Ballotpedia's 2012 General Election Preview Articles: Minnesota Congressional Seats

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October 31, 2012

By Ballotpedia's Congressional team

Minnesota's Congressional Elections in 2012
U.S. Senate Election? U.S. House seats Possible competitive races?
Yes 8 2 (2nd & 8th)

ST. PAUL: Minnesota: Minnesota has eight U.S. House seats and one U.S. Senate seat on the ballot in 2012. All eight U.S. House incumbents face at least one challenger and U.S. Senate incumbent Amy Klobuchar (D) faces four challengers on November 6 in the general election.

Minnesota's eight congressional districts are split evenly between Democratic and Republican incumbents with four each.

In Minnesota, most polling places are open from 7:00 AM to 8:00 PM Central Time. However, some smaller municipalities may open as late as 10:00 AM.[1]

See also: State Poll Opening and Closing Times (2012)

U.S. Senate

Democratic incumbent Senator Amy Klobuchar, first elected in 2006, is running for re-election in 2012. Also vying for the Class 1 Senate seat in the November 6th general election is Republican nominee Kurt Bills, as well as three third party challengers: Independence nominee Stephen Williams, Grassroots' Timothy Davis, and Minnesota Open Progressives candidate Michael Cavlan.

Analysis done by both the New York Times and the Cook Political Report race ratings have listed the race as Solid Democratic.[2][3] Klobuchar is expected to win re-election.

State General Election Candidates Incumbent 2012 Winner Partisan Switch?
Minnesota Class 1 Senate seat Democratic Party Amy Klobuchar
Republican Party Kurt Bills
Independence Party of America Stephen Williams
Green Party Timothy Davis
Independent Michael Cavlan
Amy Klobuchar Pending Pending

U.S. House

According to the New York Times race ratings in October 2012, two of the eight districts are considered to be in play. Those are the 2nd and 8th districts.[4]

Minnesota's 2nd congressional district is considered to be Leaning Republican according to the New York Times race ratings. Republican incumbent John Kline faces former state representative and Democratic challenger Mike Obermueller (D) in the general election.[4]

According to the Washington Post, redistricting has transformed the 2nd district from a safe seat into a swing district. While the 2nd formerly went safely for Republican John Kline, the newly drawn district will be a battleground for Republicans and Democrats fighting for control of the House. Democratic leaders have slated Mike Obermueller as their "Red to Blue" program candidate.[5]

FairVote did a study on partisanship in the congressional districts, giving each a percentage ranking based on the new 2012 maps and comparing that to the old 2010 maps. Minnesota's 2nd District became less Republican because of redistricting.[6]

A recent poll has Kline leading Obermueller 49% to 41%.[7]

Additionally, Minnesota's 8th congressional district is considered to be a toss-up according to the New York Times race ratings. Republican incumbent Chip Cravaack faces Democratic challenger Rick Nolan in the general election.[4]

Minnesota's 8th has been included in the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee's "Red to Blue List," which identifies districts that the organization has specifically targeted to flip from Republican to Democratic control.[8] FairVote's partisanship study shows Minnesota's 8th District became more Democratic because of redistricting.[9]

Recent polls have favored each candidate respectively.

Chip Cravaack vs. Rick Nolan
Poll Chip Cravaack Rick NolanDon't knowMargin of ErrorSample Size
OnMessage Inc. (October 24-25, 2012)
Public Policy Polling (October 25-26, 2012)
AVERAGES 47% 44% 9% +/-4.35 710
Note: The polls above may not reflect all polls that have been conducted in this race. Those displayed are a random sampling chosen by Ballotpedia staff. If you would like to nominate another poll for inclusion in the table, send an email to

Here is a complete list of U.S. House candidates appearing on the general election ballot in Minnesota:

District General Election Candidates Incumbent 2012 Winner Partisan Switch?
1st Democratic Party Tim Walz
Republican Party Allen Quist
Tim Walz Pending Pending
2nd Democratic Party Mike Obermueller
Republican Party John Kline
John Kline Pending Pending
3rd Democratic Party Brian Barnes
Republican Party Erik Paulsen
Erik Paulsen Pending Pending
4th Democratic Party Betty McCollum
Republican Party Tony Hernandez
Independence Party of America Steve Carlson
Betty McCollum Pending Pending
5th Democratic Party Keith Ellison
Republican Party Chris Fields
Keith Ellison Pending Pending
6th Democratic Party Jim Graves
Republican Party Michele Bachmann
Michele Bachmann Pending Pending
7th Democratic Party Collin Peterson
Republican Party Lee Byberg
Independence Party of America Adam Steele
Collin Peterson Pending Pending
8th Democratic Party Rick Nolan
Republican Party Chip Cravaack
Chip Cravaack Pending Pending
Members of the U.S. House from Minnesota -- Partisan Breakdown
Party As of November 2012 After the 2012 Election
     Democratic Party 4 5
     Republican Party 4 3
Total 8 8
 Congressional Redistricting Map, approved February 2012 

For more information, view Redistricting in Minnesota.


See also