On Tuesday,  the United States will hold the 2020 General Election — one of the most critical in the last 100 years. A global pandemic that shows no signs of slowing down, racial tensions, unemployment, division over the Supreme Court justice confirmation, and a crippled economy all have had an effect on the decisions to be made by the voters in our country.

Here’s a look at what to expect and why it is seen as so critical nationally and here in Minnesota:


On a national scale, control of the White House and Congress is at stake. This has been, by far, the most heated and divisive presidential election in history and people on both sides feel that the very fabric of our democracy is at stake.

  • The Republican controlled U.S. Senate hangs on to a slim 4 seat majority and polling in key states close to the end of the campaign show Democrats potentially picking up 7 seats nationwide.
  • The Democrat controlled House of Representatives appears to be on track to holding but there are key races that still could have an effect on national, and states, politics.

Here in Minnesota, the Senate and House are both up for re-election as well as one U.S. Senate seat and all 8 U.S. Congressional seats. None of the statewide office holders other than Senator Tina Smith are up for election this time.

U.S. Senate

In the race for U.S. Senate, Tina Smith (DFL) is running against Jason Lewis (R). Lewis is a former Congressman from the Second congressional district in the southern part of the metro area. He lost that race to Angie Craig two years ago. While the polls show the race a toss-up, Lewis was rushed to the hospital for an emergency procedure just a week before the election. It is uncertain what that could do to the outcome of the election but right now this race is too close to call.

Congressional Races

There are 8 congressional races in Minnesota as well. The 3rd District (Dean Phillips), 4th District (Betty McCullom), and 5th District (Ilhan Omar), which cover the Twin Cities and west metro area, all look to be safe DFL seats. The 6th District (Tom Emmer) and 8th District (Pete Stauber), spanning from the arrowhead down to the north metro, should stay safely in Republican control.

The 1st District is a rematch between Congressman Jim Hagadorn (R) and Dan Feehan (DFL). Hagadorn has come under fire for ethics complaints relating to some of his activities and requests for perks as a member of Congress. This race will be a close one and could go either way.

The 7th District is a contest between Representative Collin Peterson (DFL) and former President of the MN Senate and Lt. Governor – Michele Fischbach (R). The dramatic shift to “Trump Country” in CD means this is Congressman Peterson’s toughest re-election bid ever.  Should Fischbach win the seat, it will likely be a safe GOP seat for the foreseeable future.

One of the most unusual races for Congress in Minnesota is in the 2nd District between Representative Angie Craig (DFL) and Tyler Kistner (R). There was another candidate from a legalize marijuana party that died recently throwing the election into turmoil. Under state law, a death of a major party candidate within 79 days of an election cancels the general election and triggers a special election. Craig filed a lawsuit saying that state law cannot affect a federal election and that it should be held on Nov. 3.

A federal judge agreed with Craig and the Kistner camp subsequently filed a petition challenging the lower federal court decision with Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch, who recently denied the petition. Therefore, the 2nd District’s election will be held on Tuesday.

Minnesota Legislature

Minnesota’s entire 201-member legislature, comprised of 67 Senators and 134 House members, are on the ballot this election.

In addition to the pandemic, racial tensions and economic insecurity, Minnesota is facing a major budget deficit. The stakes are high as both DFL and Republicans vie for control of the Minnesota Senate and Minnesota House of Representative. Going into the election, the House is controlled by the DFL (75-59) and almost everyone feels the DFL will retain control of the House, but the margin is far from clear.

Control of the Minnesota Senate is one of the most watched election contests in the country.

With Minnesota being the only divided legislature in the nation and the tightening of the national polls for President, the balance of the Senate is the key battle in the state. Right now the Republicans hold a 35-32 margin.

The DFL has outspent the GOP 2:1 on many competitive Senate races and they hope to continue the inroads their House colleagues were able to make into suburban areas in the 2018 mid-term election.

The Republicans are working hard to unseat traditionally strong DFL seats on the Iron Range and other rural areas in addition to playing defense in the suburbs, Rochester, and St. Cloud. The balance of the Senate is too close to call and there are always surprise elections that no one ever predicts that also affect the outcome.

What will be impacted by the outcome of the election?

In addition to major decisions on the budget and many public policy areas, redistricting is another cause that will be impacted by the outcome of the election. Once the 2020 Census is completed, we will need to redistrict the entire state ahead of the 2022 election cycle.

The Census is critical because Minnesota is on the cusp of losing an entire Congressional District due to the census numbers. Another important factor is that the state legislature is responsible for redistricting all of the districts, state and federal. Control of the Senate and House is critical for either party.

If the DFL manages to control both the Senate and the House they should be able to come up with a compromise map that DFL Gov. Tim Walz would sign into law. However, if we have divided government, we can expect the courts to end up drawing the map for the next decade, as they have done so in the previous three.

Hotly Contested

This election is one of the most hotly contested at the state and national levels since the 1960s and the Vietnam War and civil rights movement.

  • Over 72 million people have already voted in the United States.
  • That is more than 50% of everyone who voted in 2016.

While every national election is important, there are moments in history that transcend above the normal political messaging and posturing. Our country is as divided as it has been in at least 60 years. Elections are a snapshot in time and always have consequences. The hope is that after the election and the rhetoric dies down, people will stop fighting each other and work together to find solutions to the enormous challenges we are facing as a state and nation.

Vote In Person

Your vote matters and it needs to be counted. If you haven’t voted yet please do, but plan to vote in person on Tuesday as absentee ballots received after Tuesday may not be counted. It is our responsibility to have our voices heard.