Paint the state red; Post-election dispatches from a divided Minnesota

Published 10:20 am Thursday, November 10, 2016

By John Enger, Dan Gunderson and Mark Steil FM

Minnesota’s map of election results is mostly red. Hillary Clinton may have snagged the state’s 10 electoral votes, but she did so by only about 42,700 votes — a razor-thin margin for a heavily Democratic state.

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The only pockets of blue showed up in the state’s Arrowhead region, Minneapolis, St. Paul and Rochester. Everywhere else belonged to president-elect Donald Trump by Wednesday morning.


Donald Trump carried several rural Minnesota counties with more than 70 percent of the vote — and also won in 19 rural counties that voted for Democratic President Barack Obama four years ago.

MPR News reporters from across the state surveyed the reactions in their communities Wednesday morning. Some people they talked to weren’t surprised by the former reality TV star’s presidential win. Others were fearful he might follow up on his promises of mass deportation once he’s in office. The reactions were as varied as the issues Minnesotans hold dear.

Here are some post-election snapshots from across Minnesota:

Bemidji: “I was pretty much Trump from the start”

Minnesota’s 10 electoral votes may have gone to Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, but voters in northern Minnesota supported Donald Trump by a wide margin.

Just before 6 a.m. Wednesday, a few hours after Donald Trump became president-elect, several men sip black coffee at Pete’s Place South, a truck stop diner on the rural outskirts of Bemidji. My arrival slightly quiets their talking and laughing.

They wear camo baseball caps and work boots. They order greasy breakfasts. They’re farmers and local business owners, mostly. Some are retired. Their wives don’t allow bacon and eggs at home anymore because of cholesterol, so they come to Pete’s Place, a decades-long tradition.

This particular morning, they’re in a great mood because Trump won.

“I was pretty much Trump from the start,” said John Magnuson, who lives outside of Bemidji. “I mean, he’s a bit of a loose cannon, but this election has been very entertaining, and I think the presidency is going to be very entertaining, also.”

Magnuson has company in his support of Trump, but not from two at the table, Democrats who don’t feel much like talking.

The waitress laughs as she pours coffee. Unlike many journalists and political experts, the early morning diner clientele is not surprised by the way election night turned out.

“If you look at the size of his rallies all the time, they were large,” explained area resident Jim Lyle.

Moorhead: A wait-and-see approach

The 7th Congressional District, in western Minnesota, leans Republican.

Mitt Romney won the area in 2012 by 32,000 votes. Donald Trump did much better, with a 103,000-vote margin this year. And several counties in the district that went for Democratic President Barack Obama four years ago flipped into the Trump column this year, including Clay County.

Most voters I approached were not eager to talk about the election. Ambivalence seemed to be a theme, with most people expressing little enthusiasm for their presidential vote.

Near Barnesville, a farming community of about 2,500 people that’s 20 minutes down I-94 from Moorhead, big piles of harvested corn on the edge of town attest to a bumper crop.

At Rube’s barber shop on the town’s main street, insurance agent Terry Olson was getting a trim. The election was about change, he said.

How did he vote? “I voted American.”

Olson wants Trump to pay attention to international relationships, because the economy here depends on strong export markets for farm crops to countries like China.

“I think now it’s a world economy, and we all have to get along. It used to be just the United States, but now it’s not,” Olson said. “We ship our soybeans and corn all over the world and we have to get along with those people, to at least work together. I guess we don’t necessarily have to like one another, but we have to work together.”

Worthington: Hope for jobs and fear of deportation

Around this southwestern Minnesota city surrounded by farmland, some residents hope President-Elect Trump concentrates on jobs.

“I feel like a lot of the people are trying to find jobs and don’t really have that opportunity,” said area resident Karstin Brown. “And I’m hoping that he can open up doors for a lot of people, so that they can get on their feet and get going.”

And Latino residents here are wondering if Trump will act on his pledge to deport immigrants in the country illegally.

Maria Parga of Worthington, a citizen who owns a restaurant and grocery store, said Trump should let job-holding undocumented immigrants stay in the country.

“If he has to remove people, I hope he have a little bit of mercy,” Parga said, “and be nice with the people who are working honestly.”