While former Vice President Joe Biden carried Minnesota on Super Tuesday, Southwest Minneapolis saw a tighter race, casting the most votes for Sen. Bernie Sanders.
Out of more than 40,000 DFL ballots cast in Southwest Minneapolis precincts, roughly 36% went to Sanders, 29% went to Biden and 25% went to Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren.
Biden tended to carry precincts located south and west of the chain of lakes, while Sanders tended to carry precincts closer to Downtown and Uptown. Warren won a single precinct in Kingfield.
The city’s voting map might have looked much different. Hometown Sen. Amy Klobuchar appeared to have a fundraising edge in Southwest neighborhoods before abruptly dropping out on Monday and endorsing Biden. “We won Minnesota because of Amy Klobuchar,” Biden said at a rally.
As voters walked into the polls Tuesday, some still hadn’t picked a candidate.
“I’m really torn, I’m not sure. I’ve got it down to two different people,” said Sharon Landers, heading into the Lynnhurst Recreation Center.
After a few minutes at the ballot box, she decided to vote for former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg because she figured he could outspend Trump. (Bloomberg spent more than $400 million from Oct. 31-Jan. 31, according to the Federal Election Commission.) Sanders was her second choice.
Other voters said they deliberated between their favorite candidate and the candidate they believed could soundly beat President Donald Trump. But they disagreed on which Democrat was most likely to beat him.
Kate Moberg said she shares Sanders’ values, but thinking ahead to the general election, she voted for Biden.
“Just get Donald out of there,” Jordan Moberg said.
At Jefferson elementary school, Nic LaFrance said Warren is the most electable progressive candidate. He came to the polls with Timmy Rehborg, who said he voted for Sanders for the same reason.
While voters streamed in and out of the precincts, campaigns worked to get out the vote.
Inside a Warren “action center” at a vacant condo on the 3500 block of James Avenue South, next-door neighbor Shay Berkowitz trained in volunteers.
“The field is so much bigger, literally, in the last 12 hours,” Berkowitz told incoming volunteer Betsy Ford, walking Ford through the basics of working the phone bank. “What’s really important is to have a conversation that is authentic and supportive of people voting.”
“This is a very fluid primary. We don’t know what’s going to happen day to day,” said Dave Mann, who was greeting Warren volunteers arriving to text and door knock. “In our minds, this is still a three-person race.”
Nearby, on the 3100 block of Fremont Avenue South, volunteers removed their shoes to enter an apartment serving as a base for Sanders canvassers. Raquel Sidie-Wagner also volunteered for Sanders in 2016 when the campaign felt like a “ragtag group” of believers working out of a furniture liquidators warehouse (renamed the “Berniture” liquidators) at 38th & Chicago. Today, she said, someone attending a concert can pull up a Bernie app and start canvassing.
Biden’s team hosted a watch party at Elsie’s, but their grassroots work was harder to find in Southwest on Super Tuesday — the Biden website’s closest canvassing event was in Illinois.
More than 8,000 people attended Sanders’ March 2 rally in St. Paul, and Sidie-Wagner said attendees were thrilled when Sanders visited the overflow room before appearing on the main floor.
“It looks like St. Paul is ready for a political revolution,” Sanders said at the rally.
The Democratic candidates have obvious differences of opinion, Sanders said, but they pale in comparison to their differences with Trump. All want to move government away from principles of greed to principles of racial, environmental, economic and social justice, he said.
In Dallas, Biden took the stage Monday with Klobuchar, who joined former candidates Beto O’Rourke and Pete Buttigieg in endorsing Biden. Bloomberg ended his campaign and endorsed Biden on March 4, “uniting behind the candidate with the best shot” to beat Trump.
“Most Americans don’t want the promise of a revolution. They want results,” Biden said, listing priorities for presidential decency, clean air and water, affordable health care, criminal justice reform, a beaten NRA and a path to citizenship for immigrants. He praised Klobuchar, calling her one of the Senate’s most effective senators.
Klobuchar called for unity.
“If we spend the next four months dividing our party, and going at each other, we will spend the next four years watching Donald Trump tear apart this country,” she said.
Back at Klobuchar’s campaign office at 6th Street and 1st Avenue Northeast, staff members waited Tuesday for team members to return from Dallas, unsure what was next for the office and how long their campaign emails would remain active.
If Klobuchar had stayed in the race, fundraising data indicate she may have seen strong support in Southwest Minneapolis.
USA Today cited a data analysis by the apartment listing service RentHop, which mapped the number of unique donors by zip code as of December. At that time, Klobuchar had the most donors in Minneapolis at 1,202, followed by Sanders with 904,
Warren with 560, Buttigieg with 548, Trump with 223, Andrew Yang with 150, Biden with 140 and Tulsi Gabbard with 39.
Klobuchar attracted the most unique donors in neighborhoods closest to the southwest city border, while Sanders attracted more donors in the Uptown zip code 55408. Klobuchar’s biggest fundraising totals came from the zip code 55405, bringing in nearly $76,000 from neighborhoods like Kenwood and Bryn Mawr.
By Super Tuesday, nine candidates on the ballot had dropped out, and the evolving race likely impacted thousands of early voters. As of Feb. 28, the Minnesota Secretary of State had accepted 57,196 DFL ballots, and there was no way to change those votes. People who recently mailed ballots could still attempt to call and cancel them.
The next states to vote are North Dakota, Idaho, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri and Washington on March 10, followed by March 17 primaries in Florida, Illinois, Ohio and Arizona.
The Democratic National Convention is July 13-16 in Milwaukee.
At Harriet’s Inn on Super Tuesday, neighbors gathered and sipped beer as election results flashed up on six of the pub’s seven TV screens. (The seventh screen showed the Wild game.)
Kingfield resident Dave Searl came to the bar with “Warren” printed across his chest. He’d worked for 16 years at Camp Warren, a YMCA camp in Eveleth, Minnesota — but he’s also a fan of Elizabeth Warren. “It just worked out that I had all the T-shirts and sweatshirts and water bottles and bumperstickers,” he said.
Ray Dillon, a Bloomberg supporter who had woken up before 6 a.m. to serve as an election judge in Powderhorn, bought a massive soft pretzel for his tablemates before asking them whether they’d seen Bloomberg’s three-minute prime time TV ad.
“That’s how long a lot of men last,” joked Lyndale neighborhood board president Kyle Samejima, who voted for Sanders because she didn’t like how emphatically Warren had proclaimed herself a capitalist.
As Biden began to rack up victories in the first states called, Samejima grew worried.
“I didn’t expect him to do so well,” she said. “I thought his debate performances were lackluster and not impressive and he seemed not 100%. But if it’s him versus Trump, of course I’ll vote for him.”
— Nate Gotlieb contributed reporting to this story.