Finstad’s win in Minnesota’s 1st Congressional District explained

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Voters from southern Minnesota’s 1st Congressional District voted Tuesday for Republican Brad Finstad, who was elected to Congress . He beat Democrat Jeff Ettinger by approximately 4 percentage points.

Ettinger for Congress
Jeff Ettinger


Why then are national pundits claiming that the result was favorable for Democrats? Dave Wasserman, U.S. House editor, nonpartisan Cook Political Report, stated on Twitter that Finstad had greatly underperformed President Donald Trump’s 2020 results. He viewed this as evidence of a post–Roe political climate.



is not as friendly to Republicans as they would like



Heading into the midterm elections


Some local Republicans believe Finstad did better than the GOP has done in a district that is often highly competitive.


These are some key takeaways from this race:

What is Finstad’s comparison to Trump?


Finstad was worse than Trump in 2020.


This year also saw a general election within a presidential year. An August special election, in which far fewer people vote, was not possible. (In 2020, the 1st District had more votes than the special election. )


Trump still won 53.8 percent of the vote in 1st. This was more than 10 points better than Biden. Finstad, however, received 50.7 percent.


Finstad also performed worse than Trump in many of the larger counties. Finstad received 40.4 percent in Olmsted County (home to Rochester), while Trump received 43.4 percent. Finstad received 42.3 percent in Blue Earth County, which is home to most of Mankato. Trump won 46.4%.

Vote shares in Trump 2020 and Finstad 2022 for 1st District counties
Notice: 2022 Results as at Wednesday, August 10, 9:30 a.m.
Source: Minnesota Secretary Of State

Finstad won votes in smaller counties and even beat Trump in some. This helped him win despite the fact that Ettinger was big in some heavily populated areas. Finstad took home nearly 69 percent in Brown County, which is Finstad’s hometown, New Ulm. This was a larger percentage than Hagedorn won in 2020, and a slight increase over Trump. The overall results may indicate that Democrats were more competitive in the 1st. This seat was elected Republican Jim Hagedorn, who was elected in 2018 and 2020 following DFL Gov. Tim Walz was the incumbent for 12 years.

1st Congressional Special Election Votes by County
Notification: Results as of Wednesday, August 10, at 9:30 a.m.
Source: Minnesota Secretary Of State


This could be a good sign for the party in a year when the president’s party faces strong headwinds. Republicans hope to win voters in an election year with high inflation and high gas prices.

What is the cause of these results?


Ettinger could have a greater economic outlook than Biden, and may be due to Democratic success in passing legislation in Congress or the Supreme Court’s decision overturning Roe.


There may be other factors, such as the timing of Ettinger’s special election relative to the fall general election. Or how Ettinger resonates within the district.

The biggest swing in comparison to Trump 2020 was in Mower County, a former DFL stronghold. This includes Ettinger’s hometown of Austin , where he once headed the Hormelspan styling=”font-weight 400 ;”>. Trump won 51.8 percent of votes in Mower County in 2020.


Ettinger was victorious in his own backyard. Finstad received just 42.3 percent in Mower County to Ettinger’s 55.7%, which is a huge shift. Ettinger received almost 8 percentage points more votes than Dan Feehan, DFL candidate in 2020 against Hagedorn.

What is Finstad’s comparison to Hagedorn?


While the 1st district may have moved toward the GOP in recent decades, the election results were hardly different from the 2018 and 2020 results in the district.

Rep. Jim Hagedorn


Hagedorn won by just 3 percentage points over Feehan in 2020 with 48.59% of the vote. Hagedorn was victorious by less than 1% in 2018.


Finstad made this observation during his special election primary campaign. He beat nine other candidates, including the more conservative state Rep. Jeremy Munson. The historic reputation of the district as a centrist has meant that the GOP has not been an overwhelming force. Finstad stated that Republicans have won only 50 percent or more of the vote since 2004, well before the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade.


He said, “So, we don’t want to take things for granted” and that the Republican wave everyone is talking about was not assumed.


Finstad won 50.7 percent of votes.

Michael McAdams is a spokesperson for the NRCC. argued that Finstad “OVERPERFORMED” Hagedorn’s 2020 performance on Twitter .


Cook Political Report rates the district as “likely Republican” for the fall general election. Ettinger will be facing Finstad again. The district lines in the rematch will look slightly different because they were redrawn after the 2020 Census. The boundaries are the same across most of the southern Minnesota district. It still includes Mower County and larger population centres like Rochester and Mankato. It is believed that the partisan makeup has not changed much.

Pot parties underperform


The biggest underperformance was not caused by a Republican or a Democrat but by the pot party candidate


The Grassroots Legalize Cannabis Candidate received a large 5.81 percent vote in 2020. Democrats claim this is why Feehan didn’t win. In 2018, there was no candidate for the marijuana party on the ballot.


This year Haroun McClellan, Grassroots Legalize Cannabis candidate, got 0.7 percent and Richard Reisdorf (Legal Marijuana Now) got 1.3 percent.

Democrats have tried to win pro-legalization votes . They argue that the marijuana parties steal votes from a party that is more likely to legalize marijuana, at least at the state Legislature.

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