m4897 BC-MN-President 2ndLd-Writethru 11-04 0610 Web
Obama wins Minnesota
Eds: UPDATES thruout with background.
By BRIAN BAKST
Associated Press Writer
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — A GOP drive to tug Minnesota into their presidential column for the first time in 36 years fell short Tuesday with Democrat Barack Obama’s decisive win over John McCain in the state where Republicans held their national convention.
The call for the Illinois senator was based on an analysis of voter interviews, conducted for The Associated Press by Edison Media Research and Mitofsky International. It was made soon after polls at 8 p.m. CST.
Obama collected the state’s 10 electoral votes and extended a Democratic winning streak for presidential hopefuls to nine elections. It’s a Democratic Party lock longer than any other in the country.
Jeff Blodgett, Obama’s state director, said the apparent easy victory belied the fact that Republicans put up a hard fight.
"It was the message on the economy and a tremendous grassroots campaign that seemed to have carried this day for Barack Obama," Blodgett said.
The state flirted with battleground status in 2008. McCain and Obama touched down in Minnesota at critical points, they plowed millions of dollars into TV ads and McCain seriously considered putting Gov. Tim Pawlenty on his ticket.
In early June, Obama filled St. Paul’s Xcel Energy Center to declare victory in the Democratic Party’s drawn-out primary battle. Three months later, McCain stood in the same arena to collect the GOP’s nomination.
McCain hung around after September’s Republican National Convention in St. Paul, using a burst of television ads and visits to produce a close race. But by the campaign’s closing weeks, polls almost universally showed Obama had muscled his way to a clear lead.
Shannon Burns, a 38-year-old hairstylist, snapped a photo of herself and her young daughter outside a St. Paul polling place where she cast a vote for Obama. Burns, who is black, reflected on the groundbreaking nature of Obama’s bid and the message it sent to her daughter.
"Yesterday, she asked me if she could be president and I told her, ’Absolutely,"’ Burns said. "I don’t think there is a lot of black children who have asked that before."
At the same polling place, 25-year-old Amy Newton went for McCain, citing his views on abortion and his overall experience.
Newton, an administrative assistant, said her brother returned from Iraq last week and "having heard what he is going through, I find myself needing to support someone with military experience for commander in chief."
The race offered a different dynamic than 2004, when the candidates and their running mates made 21 visits to Minnesota between Sept. 1 and Election Day.
McCain last set foot in Minnesota on Oct. 10; Obama didn’t personally appear in the final three months. But voters got to see plenty of each on their television sets: combined, the two spent roughly $7 million advertising in the state.
Richard Nixon was the last Republican nominee for president to win Minnesota, in 1972. He is the only GOP candidate to win in the state in the last half-century.
But the previous two races produced narrower outcomes in the state than usual, with Republican George Bush coming within a few percentage points of beating his two Democratic rivals here.