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Tuesday, November 14, 2006 

Hatch/DFL Performance Analysis

[This took too long to get posted, but it's up. I plan on doing more objective analysis like this in the future, so I'd appreciate feedback. Enjoy. - NSP]

Obviously, the gubernatorial election was extremely close. The final (though unofficial) vote tally is that Hatch lost by 0.96%, 21,107 votes out of about 2,203,000 cast. Peter Hutchinson earned 141,735 votes, 6.43% of the total cast. That means that, had about 15% of Hutchinson voters switched to Hatch, it would be Gov.-elect Hatch today.

I've been looking at gubernatorial vote numbers for certain key areas around the state. Among those areas are DFL strongholds like St. Louis, Hennepin, and Ramsey counties, as well as other important counties and SDs. As I've been looking at these, it's more and more clear how badly Hatch underperformed the rest of the DFL ticket in most areas. It also shows that, with the exception of a very few areas, Hutchinson was not that big a factor in Hatch's loss.

I've put together some spreadsheets to compare the results in various counties. Most of it is pretty self-explanatory, but notes are included at the bottom of this post. The critical numbers here are in "Hatch Under" and "Vote Margin" categories.

St. Louis County

St. Louis County is in the northeastern corner of the state, and it includes the city of Duluth. It's an extremely reliable area for the DFL, and is also the largest county in Minnesota by area and by population (non-metro).

Votes Cast: ~99,000
Senate 70.87% 25.88% 2.42% 0.83%

Governor 64.62% 29.34% 4.73% 1.31%
DFL Average: 68.65%
SOS 63.36% 30.32% 2.59% 3.73%
Hatch %: 64.62%
Auditor 64.90% 28.63% 3.68% 2.79%
Hatch Under: -4.03%
AG 70.51% 24.17% 3.13% 2.19%
Vote Margin -3986
MN House N/A N/A N/A N/A

MN Senate N/A N/A N/A N/A

Congress 73.59% 23.73% 0.00% 2.68%

Analysis: By any standard, Hatch did very well here; almost 65% is nothing to shake a stick at. On the other hand, others did much better - the top vote-getter, Congressman Oberstar, received more than Hatch, Hutchinson, and the "other" votes combined. While this wasn't a very bad area for Hatch, he still underperformed the rest of the ticket significantly, and there were probably a couple of thousand more votes to be won here. This is especially true because Hatch's roots are in the Duluth area. This is an area where the E85 headslapper may have hurt, especially outside Duluth itself.

The Hutchinson Factor: Minimal. Hutchinson won less than 5% here, well below his statewide impact. Besides Hutchinson, the IP didn't do very well here, though there were a relatively high number of "other" votes for governor. Given the strong DFL leanings of this county, many Hutchinson & "other" votes would have gone for Hatch if there'd been no third-party options.

Anoka County

Anoka County is a suburban north metro-area county including areas of the 3rd, 5th, and 6th CDs. It's well-off but also relatively balanced between the DFL and GOP. There were a number of hotly contested races, especially in the southern portion.

Votes Cast: ~133,000
Senate 54.50% 41.55% 3.28% 0.67%

Governor 41.95% 51.27% 5.81% 0.97%
DFL Average: 49.66%
SOS 45.61% 47.72% 3.17% 3.50%
Hatch %: 41.95%
Auditor 49.15% 44.01% 4.95% 1.89%
Hatch Under: -7.71%
AG 49.39% 45.00% 4.06% 1.55%
Vote Margin -10258
MN House N/A N/A N/A N/A

MN Senate N/A N/A N/A N/A

Congress N/A N/A N/A N/A

Analysis: This is a good example of how Hatch did poorly where it mattered. Note the almost 8% dropoff from the DFL average; though DFLers did well here (for the suburbs) Hatch took a beating. This is a high-population county; if Hatch had even halved the disparity between him and the rest of the candidates, it would have made up a quarter of his deficit statewide. Getting at least 45% ought not to have been difficult, but here there's evidence of serious underperformance.

The Hutchinson Factor: Mild. Though Hutchinson still did worse than his statewide total, he captured a significant percentage of votes. However, given Hatch's showing here, many of those voters might not have gone to him anyways.

Dakota County

Dakota County composes a most of the southwestern metro area. While it is relatively well-off, with a number of wealthy suburbs, it also contains more blue-collar areas such as South Saint Paul. Areas within the county run the gamut from very conservative (mostly the western portion of the county) to fairly progressive, (mostly the eastern portion) and it is part of CDs 2 and 4. House and Senate DFLers made significant gains here this year. Of special note is that this is Gov. Pawlenty's base (he grew up in South Saint Paul and lives in Eagan) and also Mike Hatch's current residence (Burnsville).

Votes Cast: ~167,000
Senate 55.93% 40.36% 3.04% 0.67%

Governor 40.70% 52.14% 6.37% 0.79%
DFL Average: 50.52%
SOS 46.70% 47.08% 2.87% 3.35%
Hatch %: 40.70%
Auditor 49.01% 44.46% 4.27% 2.26%
Hatch Under: -9.82%
AG 50.43% 44.18% 3.81% 1.58%
Vote Margin -16395
MN House N/A N/A N/A N/A

MN Senate N/A N/A N/A N/A

Congress N/A N/A N/A N/A

Analysis: Though the rest of the DFL did quite well here, Hatch barely hit 40%. Some of this can be attributed to Pawlenty's long-time residence, success in his legislative races, and service as Majority Leader from 1999-2002. Still, Hatch significantly underperformed even the next-worst candidate, Mark Ritchie (who barely lost here). Remember, Hatch lives here too, and given DFL legislative candidates' success, this looks even worse for him. This is another large county, and, as with Anoka, a relatively small reduction in his underperformance would have netted him a lot of votes.

The Hutchinson Factor: Significant. Hutchinson earned here just about what he did statewide, and he did much better than any other IP candidates. Because voters across Dakota County have a geographic connection to Pawlenty, those voting for Hutchinson likely did so because they could not justify voting to re-elect the governor; thus, these voters likely would have broken strongly for Hatch had Hutchinson not been on the ballot.

Olmsted County

Olmsted County is in Southeastern Minnesota, including Rochester and rural areas. This was an intensely contested area, being the largest county in the 1st Congressional District and containing some heavily targeted Minnesota House and Senate races. This area had been known as solid Republican territory until recently; these results are mixed.

Votes Cast: ~56,000
Senate 53.46% 42.72% 3.18% 0.64%

Governor 38.76% 54.81% 5.39% 1.04%
DFL Average: 47.80%
SOS 41.42% 51.13% 3.13% 4.32%
Hatch %: 38.76%
Auditor 44.03% 48.64% 4.88% 2.45%
Hatch Under: -9.04%
AG 48.50% 45.25% 4.60% 1.65%
Vote Margin -5060
MN House N/A N/A N/A N/A

MN Senate N/A N/A N/A N/A

Congress 51.57% 48.28% 0.00% 0.15%

Analysis: While the Hatch underperformance here isn't unusually large, Hatch's absolute percentage is terrible. Klobuchar, Swanson, and Walz all managed to win here, Klobuchar and Walz with over 50%, so Hatch's inability to crack 40% is serious trouble. At best, it indicates an en masse abandonment by moderates, while at worst it suggests weak support by DFLers as well. Fortunately, this isn't a large county, but unfortunately it appears to be fairly typical of Southern Minnesota. As in St. Louis County, this is an area where Dutcher's E85 blank hurt.

The Hutchinson Factor: Surprisingly mild. Tim Penny beat Roger Moe by almost 20% here in 2002 and did better then than Hatch did this year. Despite this, Hutchinson received well under 6%. This is another area where Hatch did so badly that it's questionable whether he would have won more than 50% of the IP votes.

Hennepin & Ramsey Counties

Everybody knows about Hennepin and Ramsey Counties. These include the cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul and most of their first-ring suburbs. The Pioneer Press article mentioned in the last post has some analysis of the gubernatorial vote in the Twin Cities, but I felt it worth analyzing the entire counties combined. For the most part, these two counties are the core DFL areas of the state. In certain smaller areas of the counties, there was movement towards DFLers at the legislative level, such as northern Ramsey and western Hennepin counties. Minority populations make up significant numbers here, a fact which would seem to work heavily against Pawlenty's success here. These counties include parts of the 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th, and 6th CDs.

Votes Cast: ~700,000
Senate 64.99% 30.82% 3.28% 0.91%

Governor 51.44% 39.31% 8.08% 1.17%
DFL Average: 59.46%
SOS 56.84% 36.58% 3.38% 3.20%
Hatch %: 51.44%
Auditor 57.60% 34.39% 5.03% 2.98%
Hatch Under: -8.02%
AG 58.41% 34.65% 4.14% 2.80%
Vote Margin -56140
MN House N/A N/A N/A N/A

MN Senate N/A N/A N/A N/A

Congress N/A N/A N/A N/A

Analysis: As expected, this was the DFL's bread-and-butter, with the DFL averaging almost 60%. Strong performances here carried Mark Ritchie and Rebecca Otto to surprising wins, and legislative DFLers also did well. Even so, Hatch barely cracked 50%, still badly underperforming the rest of the ticket. Pawlenty did a little better than the rest of the GOP ticket, but not 8% better. You already know the single biggest reason for Hatch's underperformance in these counties, which, by the way, was more than twice enough to cost him the election.

The Hutchinson Factor: Massive. The Pioneer Press already went into this, but had Hatch been more appealing to even half of Hutchinson voters in Hennepin & Ramsey counties, Pawlenty would be packing up for a move back to Eagan. Hutchinson's performance isn't well explained by his strength as a candidate; four years ago, Tim Penny won about 13% of the votes here, and he was a far stronger candidate than Hutchinson. Independents for other offices did better here that year as well. Hutchinson's performance is likely due to voter unhappiness with Hatch. Whether that existed before the final week or two of the campaign is hard to say.


SD43 is in western Hennepin County, including parts of Minnetonka and Plymouth. Coming into 2004, this was Republican territory, with a GOP state senator and two GOP state representatives. After 2006, it has a DFL state senator and a split House delegation. I chose to analyze this SD to see whether Hatch did better in an area which swung hard towards the DFL.

Votes Cast: ~37,000
Senate 57.72% 39.19% 2.65% 0.44%

Governor 40.86% 51.76% 6.69% 0.69%
DFL Average: 48.15%
SOS 46.63% 48.26% 2.62% 2.49%
Hatch %: 40.86%
Auditor 48.95% 45.64% 3.87% 1.54%
Hatch Under: -7.29%
AG 47.60% 47.82% 3.25% 1.33%
Vote Margin -2697
MN House 50.70% 49.22% 0.00% 0.08%

MN Senate 51.93% 47.96% 0.00% 0.11%

Congress 33.52% 66.37% 0.00% 0.11%

Analysis: Nope. Though he performed better here than in some other other areas, he still did much worse than anyone but Wendy Wilde. Again, 40% is bad almost anywhere, much less in Hennepin County, though Pawlenty did break 50%, so this was never going to be easy for Hatch to win. Here, as in a few other areas, Pawlenty did do significantly better than the rest of the GOP ticket (besides Ramstad). Note that these numbers are included in the Hennepin/Ramsey section above and that this is just an analysis of a section of that.

The Hutchinson Factor: Big. SD43 is a slightly blue-tinted district that Hatch did very poorly in. There's no particular reason to think that these voters are unusually enamored with Pawlenty, especially because property taxes are a big issue in these parts, so most third-party voters probably would have broken for Hatch.


SD56 is within Washington County, making up a section of the eastern suburbs. It consists of Woodbury, a portion of Stillwater, and a number of smaller communities. DFLers stunned the GOP this year by sweeping the district, previously represented by Republicans. Mintellect wrote his/her latest post on this district. Property taxes are mentioned, and I agree with this conclusion. I picked this district for the same reasons as SD43, and because it's safe to assume that those voters concerned with property taxes would not have been kind to Gov. Pawlenty. SD56 is split between two CDs, so Congress numbers are not included.

Votes Cast: ~39,000
Senate 54.26% 42.18% 3.05% 0.51%

Governor 37.88% 53.75% 7.71% 0.66%
DFL Average: 50.01%
SOS 44.78% 49.23% 3.02% 2.97%
Hatch %: 37.88%
Auditor 48.46% 45.72% 4.11% 1.71%
Hatch Under: -12.13%
AG 48.75% 46.13% 3.79% 1.33%
Vote Margin -4730
MN House 50.88% 49.05% 0.00% 0.07%

MN Senate 52.92% 47.01% 0.00% 0.07%

Congress N/A N/A N/A N/A

Analysis: Hatch did not benefit from this district's move to the DFL column. In fact, Hatch's undervote was the largest I found anywhere I looked into; despite a DFL average just a hair over 50%, Hatch won less than 38%. As elsewhere, Pawlenty did relatively well here, taking almost 54% and outperforming his fellow Republicans, but Hatch also obviously failed miserably connecting with these voters.

The Hutchinson Factor: Huge. Almost 8% for Hutchinson, when only one other IP candidate exceeded 4%, along with the property tax emphasis suggests that voters were looking to vote against Pawlenty but couldn't justify voting for Hatch. This didn't have anything to do with party or, most likely, with Hutchinson as a candidate; this district just didn't like Hatch.


Last one! SD11 is (was) Sen. Dallas Sams' district; Sen. Sams lost in a close race, flipping the legislative delegation from the district to 2-1 in favor of the GOP. This district is in Western Minnesota, entirely within CD7, and includes Douglas, Grant, Stevens, and Todd counties. Entirely rural and fairly conservative.

Votes Cast: ~35,000
Senate 52.16% 43.57% 3.63% 0.64%

Governor 40.38% 53.08% 5.39% 1.15%
DFL Average: 49.95%
SOS 40.45% 52.50% 2.64% 4.41%
Hatch %: 40.38%
Auditor 45.40% 48.37% 4.19% 2.04%
Hatch Under: -9.57%
AG 47.83% 46.75% 3.91% 1.51%
Vote Margin -3350
MN House 48.55% 51.32% 0.00% 0.13%

MN Senate 48.59% 51.30% 0.00% 0.11%

Congress 66.67% 31.91% 0.00% 1.42%

Analysis: The statewide ticket didn't do very well here, and the DFL average statistic is skewed upwards by Rep. Peterson's performance. Without Peterson, the DFL average is 47.16%, Hatch Under is 6.78%, and Vote Margin is -2374. That doesn't look so bad, especially when you consider that Mark Ritchie only won .7% more votes than Hatch. That modified 6.78% underperformance is the second-lowest of any county or SD above, suggesting that Hatch may have been more in line with the rest of the ticket when the DFL did badly. In turn, that suggests that Hatch was winning over few of the moderates and conservatives that the rest of the ticket was. As a rural area, this is the kind of place you'd expect the ethanol lapse to hurt.

The Hutchinson Factor: Mild. Hutchinson did okay here, but there is evidence that those votes might have broken relatively strongly for Pawlenty. Hatch/Pawlenty and Ritchie/Kiffmeyer votes are very similar here. Interestingly, however, Mark Ritchie's independent opponent Bruce Kennedy polled very well here. Kennedy, though running as a true independent, let it be known that he was a former Republican and that he was "more conservative" than Kiffmeyer. Kennedy earned 4.37% and Kennedy plus the IP SOS candidate earned 7.01%, while Hutchinson won 5.39%. Because the DFL/GOP percentages are otherwise very close, it's likely that some of those Kennedy voters were also Pawlenty voters, (Pawlenty earned .58% more than Kiffmeyer) but many also voted for Hutchinson. It's safe to say that Kennedy's voters would have broken heavily Republican, and in this district, where Pawlenty earned more than 53%, it's a fair bet that SD11 Hutchinson voters might not have broken well for Hatch.

Final Analysis: There are three facts that are clear, though I'd welcome any other interpretations.

#1: Hatch's campaign badly underperformed the rest of the DFL ticket in the statewide results as well as in selected locations around the state. While lots of other DFLers won, including the other constitutional candidates, Hatch/Dutcher lost. This can be explained any number of ways, including that Dutcher's E85 lapse and Hatch's "Republican whore" comment (accurate or not) cost them.
#2: Gov. Tim Pawlenty did better than the rest of the GOP ticket, both statewide and in these same selected locations. Again, while the GOP took a beating on Nov. 7th, Pawlenty survived. This can probably be largely explained by Pawlenty's much-vaunted "nice guy" persona and, to a lesser extent, Mike Hatch and Judi Dutcher's errors down the stretch.
#3: Peter Hutchinson drew votes away from both Pawlenty and Hatch, quite possibly more from Hatch. However, Hutchinson was not the only factor in Hatch's loss. Hutchinson's percentage of the vote was often quite a bit less than the percentage of Hatch's underperformance.

"Hatch Under" is the percentage by which Hatch underperformed the DFL average (all applicable DFL candidates besides himself), and "Vote Margin" is the number of votes that underperformance represents. MN House,MN Senate, or U.S. Congress numbers were not included for counties or SDs that contain more than one such district. This doesn't apply to SDs, which by definition contain all of two HDs; here the HD numbers are for the two HDs combined. "Votes cast" are approximate and rounded to the nearest thousand.

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Thank you North Star! This is amazing reporting. I have been looking for more in depth information on the local outcome of the election, especially for Anoka County - district 6. Your overall analysis appears logical. Thank you for the hard work you put in, in order to create this helpful information and I am going to link this post to mine.

Nice analysis. I attended a vote audit. In the auditing, the sorters say the vote as they sort. The room had four audits going on. I was monitoring the Forest Lake audit. At one point, the room rang with "Tim, Tim, Tim, Tim " in many voices, like bells ringing from a steeple. It was a sad poignant moment of clarity.

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