Election 2014: Results and coverage

    McFadden: I don't support ground troops. "For me,... there has to be a clear strategic objective... there has to be a defined scope... you have to go in with overwhelming force to ensure victory." Until he hears from Obama on the second two points, McFadden says he can't support ground troops now.
    Poll: Senate, Gov. races tighten as Election Day draws near

    Gov. Mark Dayton and Sen. Al Franken continue to lead their GOP opponents, but a public opinion poll suggests that those leads are shrinking. The final KSTP/Survey USA poll for this election show Franken ahead of challenger Mike McFadden by 11 points. Franken's lead in the early days of October in the same poll was 18 points.

    Mark Dayton's lead over his challenger, Jeff Johnson, appears to be shrinking as well. At the beginning of October, Dayton led Johnson by 12 points, Today the poll has Johnson trailing Dayton only by five points. The KSTP/Survey USA poll has a margin of error of +/-4.1%
     
     

    MPR News political reporters preview Election Day

    After months of watching these campaigns, they tell us what the polls are suggesting and what has proved to be the central issues in these races.
    New law boosts early voting numbers to new record
    Sasha Aslanian, MPR News

    Minnesota voters didn't need to reach for an excuse this year in order to get an absentee ballot and vote early. That's brought a record number of Minnesotans voting before Election Day.

    More than 170,000 Minnesota voters have already cast their ballots in early voting, a huge jump from years past.

    "You've always been able to vote absentee, I guess, since the Civil War but you had to have an excuse like 'off fighting in a war,'" Secretary of State Mark Ritchie said Monday.

    The law change did away with the need for excuses, legitimate or not. Many voters have taken advantage of early voting, both in-person and by mail, he added.

    "Compared to the last governor's race back in 2010, we're at over double the number that have been returned and accepted," Ritchie said. "We're somewhere above 170,000. There have been 225,000 that have been requested so we know that we're likely to stay at this very high rate."

    Minnesotans have always been able to vote early, in person, at the city clerk or county courthouse. That continues until 5 p.m. today. Most polling places open at 7 a.m. Tuesday.

    Ritchie said he expects about a 60 percent voter turnout and hopes Minnesota will lead voter turnout among states for the 10th election in a row.

    Marijuana's Chances On Election Day

    FiveThirtyEightTwo states — Oregon and Alaska — and Washington, D.C., are voting Tuesday on ballot measures to legalize marijuana. Florida is voting to legalize the use of marijuana for medical purposes. On the h...
    See anything of note at the polls? Tell MPR News your voting stories. ow.ly/DAiRi
    First win of the day goes to the GOP

    Voters in Guam have re-elected Republican Gov. Eddie Calvo in "a landslide" victory.

    Michael Delk plays with his son, Noah, 4, while Noah's mother, Kris, finished voting on election day at the Vasa Town Hall in Welch, Minn., on Tuesday, Nov. 4, 2014. Jim Gehrz / Star Tribune via AP

    by Jon Gordon, MPR News edited by Hart Van Denburg, MPR News 11/4/2014 9:28:42 PM
    Minnesotans make their Election Day push to the polls

    Minnesotans swung into civic duty mode Tuesday, casting Election Day votes for governor, senator, Congress, the state Legislature and scores of local races.

    While non-presidential elections are typically quiet affairs, early voting was expected to hit a record in Minnesota this year and some precincts across the Twin Cities metro were surprisingly active this morning.

    In Shoreview, the polls at Turtle Lake Elementary School are some of the busiest in the state. More votes were cast here in the last gubernatorial election than any other polling place in the Twin Cities area. Election officials saw a noticeable rise in voting even before polls opened this morning. Even by late morning voters had to occasionally wait to park outside.

    At one of the more picturesque polling places -- the historic Como streetcar station in St. Paul -- more than a fifth of registered voters had already cast their ballots by noon.

    Nearby construction work has made it a challenge, but precinct staff are doing all they can to help voters, said election judge Mike MacDonald. One woman had trouble making her way down a series of floor mats where a sidewalk used to be, he said.

    “She had a walker. She was just concerned about getting down. There's a little hill there,” MacDonald said. “There's a guy from the city out here helping us, and we were able to assist her to get down here and back to her car."

    Throughout the state, voters are reporting mostly smooth sailing at the polls.

    A record number of Minnesotans cast their votes before Election Day thanks to a change in state law that loosened the rules for early voting so Minnesotans didn’t need to invent an excuse in order to vote early.

    The Secretary of State’s office says about 170,000 voters cast early ballots in person or through the mail.

    In Ramsey County, 6,000 more county residents than usual voted early, said elections manager Joe Mansky.

    "Normally in a year when the governor is on the ballot here in Ramsey County, about 6 percent of total voting will vote prior to Election Day,” Mansky said. “This year it will be closer to 9 percent."

    Voters at St. Paul City Hall were inspired enough over the noon hour to break into song.

    About 50 people gathered for an event called "I vote I sing" sponsored by Public Art St. Paul to celebrate a variety of voices and views this Election Day

    Polls will be open today until 8 p.m. across the state. Officials expect more than 2 million votes will be cast in this year's election.

    MPR News reporters Tim Nelson, Laura Yuen, Jon Collins and Sasha Aslanian contributed to this report.

    Allen Thompson of Winona, Minn., exits the West End Recreation Center after voting in the general election on Tuesday, Nov. 4, 2014, in Winona.

    U of M students registering, learning, voting

    University of Minnesota students are heading to campus polling places to cast their vote in today's midterm election at a rate typical of non-presidential elections.

    "It's really started picking up; it was slow for the first couple of hours," said Jason Chrudinsky, head election judge at Grace University Lutheran Church on the outskirts of campus.

    At the polling place, and one of its main voting spots on the U of M campus, more than half of the student votes were freshmen voting for the first time, Chrudinsky estimated.

    That's likely because of the polling place's proximity to SuperBlock, a clump of four residence halls for incoming first-year students that are heavily canvassed in the weeks leading up to elections, he said.

    As of noon, Chrudinsky said, the turnout was slightly better than the state's last non-presidential election.

    In 2010, about 28 percent of Minnesota citizens under the age of 24 reported voting in the midterm election, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. For 2012's presidential election, about 62 percent of those in that age group reported voting to the census.

    This year, students have been moving through the process quickly and with few hitches, Chrudinsky said.

    But a handful who tried to register to vote on Election Day were turned away because they did not have the proper documents. Most were told to come back with a credit card statement, their lease or someone from their precinct to vouch for them, he said.

    David Minor, a freshman and first-time voter, said he cast his ballot smoothly because he reviewed local media outlets' election guides registered to vote before the election.
    "I walked in and I walked out," he said.

    Minor said he voted to exercise his rights as a citizen, but doesn't know if his friends and fellow university students share his sense of responsibility and privilege.

    "I'm not sure if they are [voting]," he said. "I'm not even sure if they're sure."

    Art history sophomore Caitlin Carr said she wanted to vote in local elections last year, but as an out-of-state student from Illinois, felt overwhelmed and unsure.

    This year, she registered on Election Day.

    Carr said she felt ready after acclimating to Minnesota politics and gathering information online about the lesser-known races, like those for judge and state attorney general.

    She said other college students, including her roommate, end up not voting because of the kind of information gaps and insecurity she experienced last year.

    "She said she just doesn't want to vote for the wrong person," Carr said of her roomate. "She said she doesn't know what to do."

    But Mariam Salama, a physiology and global studies freshman who voted for the first time Tuesday, said the process doesn't have to be daunting.

    Instead of trying to choose a position for every political issue or office on the ballot, she researched the issues closest to her -- student benefits, the cost of tuition and the gender pay gap.

    Salama, who lives in SuperBlock's Centennial Hall, said she simply skipped the other, unfamiliar parts of the ballot that she felt less informed about.

    "A lot of times it can seem intimidating, because a lot of people feel like they need to understand absolutely every angle of every political aspect to be able to vote," she said. " [But] it's as simple as picking one or two candidates, and I think just one vote makes all the difference."

    --MPR News intern Marion Renault

    Listen to the people who gathered at St. Paul City Hall for today's "I vote, I sing" event sponsored by Public Art St. Paul.

    2010 redux? A national look

    "Preliminary exit poll results show an electorate that looks much more like 2010 than 2012 in terms of age demographics."
    -- Nate Silver, FiveThirtyEight
    What to look for in exit polling

    Don't expect to determine a winner from the exit polls you come across tonight. Beware of those that do. Carl Bialik from FiveThirtyEight warns, "Don’t look to exit-poll numbers to predict races. Do look to them for lots of other interesting information" including demographics and general attitudes.

    Bialik primer on exit polls is a good read before they are released tonight.
    The US leads the world in #election spending - and that's not a good thing. trib.al/AI77bbB cc @SunFoundation

    University of Minnesota students register to vote at Grace University Lutheran Church on the university campus in Minneapolis. That polling site gets one of the largest number of same day registrations, due to the number of students who vote at that location. (Judy Griesedieck / For MPR News)

    Faysal Noor, left, voting, keeps a hand on his children Fatima Ali, 2, and Nasir Ali, 3, at El Rio Vista Recreation Center in South St. Paul Tuesday. (Judy Griesedieck / For MPR News)

    Incumbent governors on edge

    "36 states will elect governors. More incumbent governors are at risk of losing this year than any time in 50 years."
    -- PBS NewsHour
    "There’s a very clear choice in this election contest. As clear as it’s ever been. Based on that choice, I think people know who’s for them and who’s not, and that’s why I’m reasonably confident we’re going to win this election contest."

    --8th District incumbent Rep. Rick Nolan

    The 8th is one of the most closely watched and expensive House races in the country. Nolan is facing a strong challenge from GOP newcomer Stewart Mills. The 8th has historically been a DFL stronghold. But changing demographics have made the district a toss-up.
    It ain't easy being blue

    DFL incumbent Rick Nolan says Green Party candidate Skip Sandman taking 4-5% in some polls. Because of that Nolan says it will be a close contest.

    Richard Rasch, left, conducts at St. Paul City Hall during a sing-along called "I Vote I Sing" at midday Tuesday, an event using music to express a common bond, no matter which candidates the audience favored. Judy Griesedieck / For MPR News

    Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker arrives to casts his ballot on election day at Jefferson Elementary School, November, 4, 2014 in Milwaukee. Walker is running in a tight race against opponent Mary Burke (D-WI). Darren Hauck/Getty Images)

    "Reasonable" turnout

    Ramsey county elections manager Joe Mansky said turnout is reasonable, not especially high. No issues with electronic poll books so far.

    Duluth is looking pretty steady, not lines out the door but it’s picking up. That came from Jeff Cox the city clerk. He said about 35% of the registered voters at the poll he visited had shown up.

    -- MPR News' Manda Lillie
    Regional election coverage on the radio is underway

    Listen to live coverage of the 2014 election on the radio. Tom Crann and Mike Mulcahy will host regional coverage. They're joined by Todd Rapp and Maureen Shaver, veteran Democratic and Republican political advisers and consultants, respectively.
    Rounds wins in South Dakota

    AP: Former Gov. Mike Rounds (R) wins the South Dakota U.S. Senate race.

    Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn. gets a hug from his wife Franni as he waits to put his ballot in the counter after he voted at Westminster Presbyterian Church. AP Photo / Jim Mone

    NBC, FOX, CBS projections: Dayton, Franken to return to office

    Multiple media sources calling the U.S. Senate race for Al Franken and the governor's race for Mark Dayton.
    Waiting for results, Stewart Mills optimistic in the 8th District

    Stewart Mills addressed a small group of supporters at Gull Dam Brewing in Nisswa, Minn.

    He said he’s optimistic, “because we won the debate , won on the issues and I think we’ve done an excellent job of turning voters out.”

    Later, Mills cited Nolan’s F rating by the NRA, his vote for a carbon tax, and his support for 'Obamacare' as fundamental policy differences with his campaign. By contrast, he touted his business background and staunch support for 2nd amendment rights.

    Mills also said his confidence stems from changing demographics in the sprawling 8th District. While formerly a DFL stronghold, “every election cycle it gets a little more Republican,” he said.

    - Dan Kraker, MPR News
    Texans send GOPers to top offices

    Republican Greg Abbott fends off Democratic challenger Wendy Davis, becomes next Governor of Texas. Republican Sen. John Cornyn re-elected in Texas.
    DFL chair reacts to media projections for Dayton, Franken wins

    “I feel pretty confident," DFL chair Ken Martin. "They’re looking at some of the stuff that we’re looking at. We’ve seen exit polling that shows Sen. Franken and Gov. Dayton are going to win by double digit margins. If that’s the case, I feel good about the evening that we’re going to have here."

    Stewart Mills came by the Baxter GOP Victory office to thank volunteers and gave a brief media interview in Baxter, Minn. David Joles / Star Tribune via AP

    AP calls the 5th District race for DFL Rep. Keith Ellison

    AP: Republican Rep. Erik Paulsen re-elected

    Klobuchar: Franken worked hard, earned re-election

    After winning by only 312 votes in 2008, Sen. Al Franken has won re-election. Sen. Amy Klobuchar talked to MPR News about what she thinks is behind the win.

    “I think he worked hard. I think that when he first got into office he was up against a lot, you think about the fact that there were some people that really didn’t want him there, you’ve got Minnesotans not in the majority there and what happened instead is he just put his head down, he got to work and he got some things done for our state and I think people reward that in our state. They don’t always want glamour, they just want someone who does their work.”

    - Mark Zdechlik, MPR News
    BREAKING: Louisiana Senate race headed to runoff election in December.
    BREAKING: GOP Steve Daines wins election to the U.S. Senate in Montana. @AP race call at 10 p.m. EST poll close. #Election2014 #APracecall
    Looking good for Kline

    WCCO projects John Kline re-elected in Minnesota's 2nd Congressional District.
    BREAKING: GOP Mike Enzi wins election to the U.S. Senate in Wyoming. @AP race call at 9:39 p.m. EST. #Election2014 #APracecall
    Rep. Ellison speaking to growing crowd at DFL victory party at MPLS Hilton, many more people here than even 1/2 hour ago

    Left to right, Mimi Litecky, 16, Hamdi Abdulkadir, 17, and Hayat Mohamed, 16, enjoy lively conversation at the GOP election night party at the Loews Hotel in Minneapolis November 4, 2014. Mimi came to support Mike McFadden in the Senate race while Hamdi and Hayat came to support Abdimalik Askar for a seat in House District 60B. Hayat is Askar's daughter, and Hamdi is his niece. Courtney Perry / For MPR News

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