If you tend to lean Republican, 2016 was a remarkable year. Donald Trump lost the election in Minnesota by a mere 1.5 percent of the vote, nearly becoming the first Republican presidential candidate to take the state since 1972.
These days, the Trump campaign is loading up with staffers here, believing he can also become the first GOPer to win a statewide election in 14 years. Yet the numbers say it's all for naught. At least for the moment.
According to Morning Consult, which conducts monthly presidential polling, Trump would get hammered if Minnesota's elections were today.
At issue is the president's net approval rating – the spread between those who approve and disapprove of him. In Minnesota, he's gone from that slim 1.5 percent loss to a negative 14 percent. These are the numbers of a landslide in the making.
The same is happening in much of the Midwest. He's at -11 in Michigan, -6 in Ohio. Increasingly conservative Iowa has him at -11. Even in Wisconsin, which spent the last decade auditioning for the Confederacy, he's at a lowly -14.
In fact, among the 17 states considered at least loosely contested next year, he's up in only two: Georgia (+2) and Texas (+6).
Still, Republicans surely realize ours is a fickle electorate, as evidenced by the president himself. Thirteen months before the last election, no one could have believed they'd be using “Donald Trump” and “president” in the same sentence.
Trump believes he can win big in rural Minnesota, where the GOP flipped two congressional seats last fall. And polling shows that no matter how bad his policies pummel certain voters, they'll support him nonetheless.
Take farmers, who've been pounded by his trade war with China, formerly known as their biggest customer. U.S. farm debt is now at its highest level since the crisis of 1984. Last week, China didn't import a single soybean.
Yet Trump's support has risen to 67 percent among farmers, up 7 points from last year. It goes to show how no one can really explain – or predict – the American psyche, especially 13 months out. Nor are we likely to take a lesson from history.
The last time Minnesota voted for a Republican president was Nixon. The last Republican to win a statewide office was Tim Pawlenty. It's doubtful we'll remember how either turned out.