Gov.-elect Tim Walz (D-MN) has frequently boasted of historical victory in the Minnesota gubernatorial race, but the numbers were unprecedented on both sides of the ticket as the state saw record-setting voter turnout.
“Peggy [Flanagan] and I are humbled by the support for One Minnesota. We received more votes than any gubernatorial candidate in state history and the largest percentage of the total vote since former Gov. Arne Carlson in 1994,” Walz tweeted after his election night victory, and repeated the claim in interviews following the midterms.
Thank you, Minnesota. Peggy and I are humbled by the support for #OneMinnesota. We received more votes than any gubernatorial candidate in state history and the largest percentage of the total vote since former Gov. Arne Carlson in 1994. https://t.co/xg1LB5FvGz
— Tim Walz (@Tim_Walz) November 12, 2018
While Walz did receive 1,392,969 votes—more than any other gubernatorial candidate—Republican Jeff Johnson also received more votes than any previous candidate at 1,097,721 votes.
In 2002, for instance, former Gov. Tim Pawlenty (R-MN) won his first election with less than one million votes, receiving 999,473 total votes. He went on to break a million votes in his reelection bid in 2006 after winning the support of 1,028,568 voters—less than both Walz and Johnson in 2018, according to the Minnesota Secretary of State Office.
Current Gov. Mark Dayton (D-MN) never broke one million votes, receiving 919,232 in the 2010 election and 989,113 in the 2014 election. During his 2014 run against Dayton, Johnson received 879,257 votes, which is 218,464 fewer votes than he received this year.
In the three-way race of 1998, former Gov. Jesse Ventura (I-MN) won the election with just 773,403 votes.
The closest any gubernatorial candidate has come to reaching 2018’s numbers was Republican Arne Carlson when he won with 1,094,165 votes in 1994.
The high vote counts for Walz and Johnson corresponded with a record-setting voter turnout for the state. According to Fox 9, 2,593,922 Minnesotans voted in the 2018 midterm elections at a 63.82 percent participation rate. These numbers represent the highest voter-participation percentage for a midterm since 2002, and the highest ever number of voters for a midterm in Minnesota history.
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