Candidates pass over MN for swing states

Jill Biden came to Minneapolis Saturday in one of few Obama campaign stops in Minnesota.

Dr. Jill Biden speaks to canvassers about the importance of getting people to vote at the Obama Campaign's Minneapolis office.

Bridget Bennett

Dr. Jill Biden speaks to canvassers about the importance of getting people to vote at the Obama Campaign’s Minneapolis office.

Bryna Godar

Second lady Jill Biden came to Minneapolis on Saturday in one of several visits the Obama campaign has made to Minnesota in the past few months to canvass and rally supporters.

Meanwhile, a slew of candidates will visit Colorado, widely considered a swing state, this week, including President Barack Obama, Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney and his running mate Paul Ryan.

As a Democratic-leaning state, Minnesota has been largely ignored by the Romney campaign and has received far less attention and spending than neighboring battleground states Wisconsin and Iowa.

With the Electoral College system, candidates have little incentive to spend resources on non-swing states, said Kathryn Pearson, a University of Minnesota political science associate professor.

Candidates focus on the “most electorally competitive states” that have larger populations, she said.

The most noticeable difference is a shortage of presidential TV ads or rallies, said David Canon, a political science professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.  

But some say that isn’t a bad thing.

“I think Minnesotans are glad that we don’t have to endure through those commercials on both sides,” said economics sophomore Conrad Zbikowski,  who has been volunteering with the Obama campaign.

He said when visiting Ohio, which is a swing state, nearly every single commercial break on the hotel TV had presidential ads.

Canon said in some areas in Wisconsin, viewers see “saturation” of presidential campaign ads.

“In Minnesota, or a less competitive state … you’re just not going to see any presidential ads at all,” Canon said.

The Obama campaign has field offices in Minnesota while the Romney campaign does not.

“I think that’s a function of the Obama campaign playing defense, making sure they keep this state blue …” Pearson said.

Why not a swing state?

Although Minnesota currently has a Republican-controlled Legislature and split representation in the U.S. House, it has sided with Democratic presidents since 1976, including in 1984, when it was the only state Democratic presidential candidate Walter Mondale won.

Polls show little sign of that changing.

Public Policy Polling found Obama with a 10-point lead over Romney 53-43 in an October poll.

 “[Minnesota] is, when it comes to statewide elections and when it comes to legislative elections, a state that is divided along partisan lines and could go one way or the other,” Pearson said. “But its presidential history is distinct in the sense that we consistently elect Democrats — we have since 1976.”