Dems’ clash spills over border

Experts say early primaries could reduce minnesota voters’ choices

Kristin Frey

Wisconsin’s votes are in, but how much weight those ballots will carry for their North Star neighbors has yet to be decided.

As Wisconsin residents voted for their favorite Democratic presidential candidate, University professors had mixed views on the primary’s importance for Minnesotans.

The nature of the Wisconsin primary will affect the presidential race for Minnesotans, said Larry Jacobs, director of the 2004 Elections Project at the Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs.

“It is going to sort out the contenders for the democratic votes,” he said, referring to former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean’s comments that he would drop his bid for candidacy if he did not win the Wisconsin primary.

“Howard Dean will not be the same candidate after Tuesday,” he said.

But University political science professor John Sullivan said the outcome of Wisconsin’s primary will not impact Minnesota, which will hold its caucus March 2.

Primary voters, in general, are more diverse than caucus voters, Sullivan said, so it is difficult to compare voting trends between the two states.

“Minnesota is a caucus state and Wisconsin has primaries; it would be comparing apples and oranges,” Sullivan said.

Austin Miller, University DFL president, said most Minnesotans have already made up their minds when it comes to the presidential election.

“Perhaps there is a lot of influence from the Iowa voters, but Wisconsin is getting kind of late,” he said.

The two states might not influence each other’s voting preferences, but Wisconsin and Minnesota share similar voting habits, Jacobs said.

“We share certain interests together, and I think that filters in with political behavior and thinking,” he said.

Including Iowa in the group, Jacobs said the three states tend to vote Republican for congressional and state legislative seats, and often vote Democratic for senate and presidential races.

“The 2004 election is a big question for Iowa, Minnesota and Wisconsin,” Jacobs said.

The three states have not collectively supported a Republican presidential candidate for more than three decades, he said.

In 1972, the three states supported Republican candidate Richard Nixon, who was elected president.

Despite their long history supporting Democratic presidential candidates, the states no longer hold that stance, Jacobs said.

“What has changed is now it is a fight for each race,” he said.