Which was the only part of Minneapolis to boost turnout in the DFL primary?

A lot of the primary results analysis in the Ilhan Omar vs. Don Samuels congressional race has focused on Omar’s margin differential from 2020 to 2022. And it seems to me that’s not a perfect comparison — considering 2020 was a monumental presidential election, with much higher turnout.

While she won Minneapolis with 55% of the vote, Omar was down by over 8% across the city compared to two years ago. Possible explanations abound: a relatively well-known challenger in Don Samuels, Omar’s failure to take Samuels seriously, the increasing salience of crime and police politics, and the fact that many of Omar’s progressive supporters are more likely to turn out in a presidential year.

[See Josh Martin for a breakdown of results by ward.]

The more natural comparison is midterm-to-midterm. Though the 2018 comparison also has drawbacks: Keith Ellison had just vacated the seat to run for Minnesota attorney general, so there was no incumbent. And there were more than two credible candidates.

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Election 2022: Try Not to Vote Your Fears This Year

As I look for deep meaning in tomorrow’s primary election, it may offer hints about how much fear is still driving local politics. 

Think back to the big headline of last year’s election: the public safety charter question. It was twisted, amidst a rising crime rate, as an attempt to abolish the police. Though Mayor Frey agreed with some key elements of that charter question – creating a public safety department, and removing the minimum police staffing provision – the message from Frey’s campaign and the multi-million dollar PAC run by one of his former campaign staffers was fear. They said a yes vote would be to defund or eliminate the police department. They said a yes vote would be like demoting or firing a beloved chief (who many predicted was about to retire anyway – which he did shortly after the election).

Just a few months after he won reelection, along with a new Frey-allied City Council majority, Frey was pushing his own idea for an equivalent to a department of public safety. And that plan is moving along. Last week, the City Council confirmed his pick for Commissioner of Community Safety, a role created to integrate and oversee a handful of public safety-related departments, including the police (if I wanted to scare people, I’d tell you the chief has been demoted and won’t be able to get the mayor on the phone in an emergency). You might say it’s a shining example of what you can accomplish when you work together. Or what you can accomplish when one side isn’t fighting for political survival by spending millions of dollars scaring voters.

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