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.

One thing that stands out, as I mentioned on last week’s episode of the podcast, is that Ward 13 was the only part of the city to increase turnout in 2022 compared to 2018 — by 1.2%. Turnout was down across the city by 6% over the same period. The largest DFL turnout drops came from Omar’s strongholds: Ward 2 (the student ward saw a 13.7% drop), Ward 6 (the Somali ward saw a 19.9% drop), and Ward 10 (the high renter ward saw an 11.6% drop).

Omar’s highest percentages came from wards 6, 9, and 10 — with totals ranging from 68 to 74%. Her lowest numbers came from wards 7, 11, and 13 (with 39, 42, and 48% of the vote). Those were also her three lowest performing wards in 2020, and she showed weakness there in 2018 (this is where the comparison to 2018 gets complicated — North Minneapolis state legislator Bobby Joe Champion ran for the seat four years ago, and helped make wards 4 and 5 her lowest percentages in that year’s primary).

Omar is right when she says the DFL old guard recruits Black candidates to run against her and “It’s the rich white community that votes for them.” Don Samuels received 43% of his votes from just 23% of the city (wards 7,11, and 13) — the richer, whiter, more conservative parts of the city. And yes Samuels lost his own neighborhood in Ward 5.

The last two columns of these charts show the increasing disproportionality of Minneapolis elections, no matter which years you compare. In 2022, Ward 13 produced 3.8 times as many votes as the lowest turnout area, Ward 2. This disproportionality is driven by demographics (race, wealth, housing status) and it’s not new. But it has gotten worse. Ward 13 made up 13.54% of DFL congressional primary votes in 2022, a 2.6% increase over the 2018 midterm election. Ward boundaries are drawn to give each of them a roughly equal 1/13th (7.7%) of the city’s population.

As an aside (and to make myself sad thinking about it), one criticism of last year’s shift to a strong mayor form of government is that this disproportionality in the citywide vote favors mayoral candidates who can run up large margins in southwest Minneapolis. By weakening the ward-based city council, we have given more power to a wealthier, whiter group of voters. A very close citywide vote on the strong mayor question was decided by big margins in wards 7, 11, and 13.

Same charts in text format:

2018 to 2022 Minneapolis Primary Comparison

WardOmar % change 2018→2022DFL turnout change 2018→2022*2018 % of citywide2022 % of citywide
1▲ 0.65%▼ -7.08%7.87%8.15%
2▲ 6.74%▼ -13.73%6.86%3.58%
3▼ -7.57%▼ -3.57%8.79%8.81%
4▲ 9.16%▼ -3.51%4.41%4.51%
5▲ 14.85%▼ -5.27%3.48%3.16%
6▲ 17.28%▼ -19.89%6.34%3.73%
7▼ -2.06%▼ -4.91%8.89%9.53%
8▲ 7.06%▼ -5.69%8.30%9.10%
9▲ 14.34%▼ -9.73%5.70%5.77%
10▲ 2.79%▼ -11.55%8.94%6.86%
11▲ 1.32%▼ -2.38%8.84%10.32%
12▲ 10.66%▼ -2.80%10.72%12.95%
13▼ -5.92%▲ 1.15%10.87%13.54%
*Does not include same day registrations for 2022. Data not yet available.

2020 to 2022 Minneapolis Primary Comparison

WardOmar % change 2020→2022DFL turnout change 2020→2022*2020 % of citywide2022 % of citywide
1▼ -7.21%▼ -16.89%8.06%8.15%
2▼ -8.81%▼ -18.38%6.33%3.58%
3▼ -11.36%▼ -11.86%9.65%8.81%
4▼ -10.26%▼ -9.03%4.38%4.51%
5▼ -13.17%▼ -11.05%3.58%3.16%
6▼ -6.29%▼ -24.59%5.49%3.73%
7▼ -8.89%▼ -14.59%9.33%9.53%
8▼ -5.66%▼ -16.83%8.31%9.10%
9▼ -6.83%▼ -15.54%5.19%5.77%
10▼ -5.72%▼ -18.79%8.63%6.86%
11▼ -7.33%▼ -13.40%8.91%10.32%
12▼ -5.19%▼ -12.56%10.49%12.95%
13▼ -6.78%▼ -13.15%11.64%13.54%
*Does not include same day registrations for 2022. Data not yet available.