The Republican National Committee this week bragged about Donald Trump's victory in Minnesota's GOP primary Tuesday night — ignoring the fact that Trump was the only candidate on the ballot.
"Fueled by momentum for @realDonaldTrump's agenda, our party saw historic turnout last night in several key battleground states," the party tweeted Wednesday.
It noted specifically that Trump had received "150 percent more votes than he did in 2016" in North Carolina and "at least 4x the numbers of votes as he did in the 2016 caucus" in Minnesota.
It is unsurprising that turnout in Minnesota's new primary was significantly higher than for the 2016 caucuses. Primaries, by design, are far more accessible and attracted much higher turnout in each of the states that switched to them for the current election.
It is also hardly shocking that Trump's numbers in 2020 would be higher than his 2016 results in the state: Unlike last time, he had the advantage of having no GOP opponents on the ballot.
In 2016, Trump placed third in Minnesota's Republican caucuses with 24,433 votes — well behind both Marco Rubio (41,184 votes) and Ted Cruz (33,142 votes).
The 2020 field is far less competitive. Three well-known Republicans announced primary challenges to Trump this cycle — former Massachusetts Gov. Bill Weld, former South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford, and former Illinois Rep. Joe Walsh — but only Weld remains in the race and has received no support from the larger GOP.
Under Minnesota's new primary law, the state party chair also gets to determine which candidates appear on their party's ballots. Minnesota GOP chair Jennifer Carnahan kept all of Trump's challengers off the ballot.
Republican voters thus saw only one name on their ballots Tuesday: Trump.
With 99.95 percent of precincts reporting as of Wednesday afternoon, Trump received 137,225 votes in Tuesday's primary. Another 3,302 Republican voters wrote in a different candidate's name.
While Trump's total is indeed higher than his 2016 number, it notably falls well below the top two finishers in the Tuesday's Minnesota Democratic primary. First-place finisher Joe Biden garnered 287,455 votes — more than twice Trump's total — and runner-up Bernie Sanders received 222,533.
Democrats also bested Republicans in terms of overall turnout. Some 744,470 Minnesotans voted in Tuesday's Democratic primary. Just 140,516 participated in the GOP primary.
Republican leaders have claimed that the lower turnout in the state's GOP primary was not indicative of low enthusiasm for Trump's reelection.
"We know that there's a lot of energy and enthusiasm for him from our entire state," Carnahan told the Star Tribune.
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.