Despite massive national victories for the Republican Party, which included gaining control of the U.S. Senate and holding onto several key governors’ seats, Governor Mark Dayton (DFL) and Senator Al Franken (DFL) were re-elected to second terms on Tuesday night by comfortable margins.
Franken defeated his challenger, Republican businessman Mike McFadden, by 10 points, in a race that was called shortly after polls closed. In his acceptance speech, he spoke about the importance of bipartisanship and hoped to find common ground with the new Republican majority.
Throughout the election cycle, polls had shown Franken consistently ahead of McFadden, but his narrow victory in 2008, of only 312 votes, spurred a heavy campaign — both on-campus and statewide.
Dayton defeated Hennepin County Commissioner Jeff Johnson to win a second term in the Governor’s Mansion by five points. After being announced as the victor, Dayton spoke about his priorities for the next few years, which include comprehensive transportation funding and building off the success of his first term.
Dayton received just over 50 percent of the vote, making this election the first time in over 20 years that a governor received an absolute majority of votes statewide. Tina Smith, Dayton’s chief of staff, ran with him and will become the next Lieutenant Governor.
The DFL once again swept all other statewide positions, holding onto the State Auditor, Secretary of State, and Attorney General offices.
The Republican Party narrowly won control of the Minnesota House, setting up at least two years of divided governance statewide. The State Senate was not up for re-election and will remain in DFL control. Rep. Erin Murphy (DFL), who represents Macalester’s district, cruised to re-election with over 81 percent of the vote.
Danny Surman ’14, who ran as a Republican in the district adjacent to Macalester’s, won 26 percent of the vote.
None of Minnesota’s U.S. House seats changed party lines. Incumbent Reps. Betty McCollum and Keith Ellison, who represent the Twin Cities, won comfortably.
Nationally, the Republicans won at least 52 seats in the U.S. Senate, more than enough to take control away from Democrats who had held it for the past eight years. With two races still being counted, and one going to a runoff, they could begin next year with up to 55 seats.
On campus, many students turned out to vote and volunteer for this year’s election. Mac Dems and MPIRG ran get-out-the-vote efforts leading up to Election Day.
After polls closed, a watch party was held in the Weyerhaeuser Boardroom. Kaitlin Lindaman ’18, who volunteered for Mac Dems, said she was excited by all the enthusiasm surrounding Tuesday’s elections.
“You could tell when it was people’s first time voting, because they would take a picture by the ‘Vote Here’ sign and with the ‘I Voted’ stickers, which was super cool. It was cool to see all of the Mac people voting,” Lindaman said.
Some students chose to vote absentee in their home states. Laura Gould ’18 voted absentee in Wisconsin this cycle.
“I was really excited when I got my absentee ballot,” Gould said. “When I opened it, I was like, ‘Wow, there’s actually a lot of things I’m voting on,’ so I had to do some research. It was really exciting to finally get to vote and see what a ballot really looks like.”
Connor Valenti ’17, a co-chair of Mac Dems, was disappointed with the result of the election, but appreciated all the work volunteers put into these campaigns.
“We’re obviously a little disappointed about the results nationwide, but we’re thrilled with Franken and Dayton’s wins here in Minnesota, and we’re confident we laid some solid groundwork for 2016,” Valenti said. “We were pretty happy with the turnout on campus. We won’t have any official numbers for a couple more weeks, but we think it’ll be on par with what we were hoping for thanks to our amazing volunteers knocking dorms, making phone calls, and canvassing on the sidewalks.”