About the Minnesota Historical Election Archive

The Minnesota Historical Election Archive is the most complete, searchable online database of Minnesota election results. The Archive compiles more than 20,000 elections conducted since statehood across 17 federal and state offices: President, US Senate, US House, Governor, Lieutenant Governor, Secretary of State, Attorney General, Auditor, Treasurer, Railroad Commissioner, Railroad & Warehouse Commissioner, Public Service Commissioner, Supreme Court Chief Justice, Associate Supreme Court Justice, Supreme Court Clerk, state Senate, and state House.

1942-1950 Congressional District Map

Archive users can filter the election results by year, office, stage, political party, and district, and the results have also been coded to enable filtering by candidate gender, incumbency, margin of victory, plus Minnesota birth and residence county.

The Minnesota Historical Election Archive is curated by Smart Politics author and founder Dr. Eric J. Ostermeier (Ph.D., University of Minnesota, Department of Political Science, 2006; J.D., The University of Michigan Law School, 1995).

A nationally recognized expert on campaigns, elections, and political history, Dr. Ostermeier pioneered data journalism with the launch of Smart Politics in 2006 by imagining a new method to address the political news of the day – blending meticulous, original research with creative collection and application of data, situated in a historical context. The launch of this Archive will enable researchers, reporters, and interested citizens to more easily access and learn about Minnesota’s electoral and political history.

Please direct any questions or comments to Dr. Ostermeier at smartpolitics@umn.edu.

The Minnesota Historical Election Archive is published by the University of Minnesota Libraries Publishing.

This project has been financed in part with funds provided by the State of Minnesota from the Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund through the Minnesota Historical Society.

Candidate Biographies

Coya Knutson
State Representative: HD 65 (1951-1955)
U.S. Representative: CD 09 (1955-1959)

The Minnesota Historical Candidate Biographical Database is a new feature built into the Minnesota Historical Election Archive. The database is a first-of-its-kind digital reference for searchable biographical information and data for both winning and losing Minnesota primary, general, and special election candidates for 17 state and federal offices.

The goal of the Database is to generate greater interest in and further educate the public about Minnesota’s rich political and electoral history through the lens of the men and women who ran for public office. The biographical database shines a light on the state’s cast of characters in its political theater – the stories of many have been lost to time.

Fewer than 175 Minnesotans have been elected to federal office since statehood and fewer than 250 have been elected to statewide positions. Meanwhile, nine times as many men and women were defeated in their campaigns for these offices. Who were these office seekers?

Sourced biographical information is provided for several thousand candidates, with many new candidate biographies to be added every month.

Various sources of information have been used to build this biographical database including birth, marriage, and death certificates, U.S., state, and foreign nation censuses, World War I and World War II Draft Registration Cards, U.S. Department of State passport applications, U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs BIRLS Death files, U.S. military applications for headstones or markers, U.S. Social Security Death and Applications and Claims indexes, the Biographical Directory of the United States Congress, the Minnesota Legislative Reference Library, the Minnesota State Law Library, books, reference manuals, city directories, and various digitized newspaper archives.

Please direct any questions, comments, and sourced additions or edits to Dr. Ostermeier at smartpolitics@umn.edu.

This project has been financed in part with funds provided by the State of Minnesota from the Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund through the Minnesota Historical Society.

Election Sources

1912 Republican Ticket

The data presented in this Archive is culled from a variety of official governmental sources, primarily various editions of the Minnesota Legislative Manual, Reports of the State Canvassing Board from the Office of the Minnesota Secretary of State, the Journal of the House of Representatives of the State of Minnesota, and the Journal of the Senate of the State of Minnesota. Additional election results were retrieved from collections of Secretary of State files preserved by the Minnesota Historical Society.

For elections in which official returns are not available in official state governmental sources, contemporary media articles from newspapers across Minnesota have been used but only when official, certified returns were reported. Each election return indicates the source(s) used.

On occasion, official sources failed to list the correct candidate name, the candidate’s party affiliation, the vote tally, or even the correct office. Efforts were made to correct or fill in these gaps of information through secondary sources, such as sample ballots printed in newspapers.

Historical trivia about the elections was collected from Dr. Eric Ostermeier’s research including reports published at this archive’s companion site, Smart Politics .

Election Data

It is the goal of this Archive to compile every primary, special, and general election in Minnesota since statehood for the aforementioned 17 state and federal offices. With a few exceptions, the election results are 100 percent complete for 15 of the 17 offices under review.

For state legislative races, however, there remain some gaps. From 1857 through 1888, the state did not publish state legislative election returns in its legislative manual, nor were such returns captured in the record of the state House or state Senate as was the customary practice for major offices. Additionally, from 1902 through 1958, the state did not publish primary election returns for state Senate and House districts for which the county canvassed the results. [The state canvassed the results for multi-county districts and published them accordingly in the legislative manuals].

1890 Democratic Ticket

Below is a list of which and how many election results are currently housed in this Archive:

  • President (1860-present): Complete
  • U.S. Senate (1857-present): Complete
  • U.S. House (1857-present): Complete except for the raw vote total in six unopposed primary elections in 1904, two unopposed primary elections in 1906, and two primary elections in 1912
  • Governor (1857-present): Complete
  • Lieutenant Governor (1857-1970): Complete
  • Secretary of State (1857-present): Complete
  • Auditor (1857-present): Complete
  • Attorney General (1857-present): Complete
  • Treasurer (1857-1998): Complete
  • Railroad Commissioner (1875-1883): Complete
  • Railroad and Warehouse Commissioner (1900-1966): Complete
  • Public Service Commissioner (1968-1972): Complete
  • Chief Justice of the Supreme Court (1857-present): Complete
  • Associate Justice of the Supreme Court (1857-present): Complete except for the raw vote total in four unopposed general elections in 1984
  • Clerk of the Supreme Court (1857-1954): Complete
  • State Senate (1857-present): Missing select general results from 1857-1888, select primary election results from 1902-1958, and select special elections from 1858-1932
  • State House (1857-present): Missing select general results from 1857-1888 and 1916, select primary election results from 1902-1958, and select special elections from 1858-1881

Over the decades, governmental sources have also been sporadic as to when write-in votes were published in the official canvass or other documents. Write-in votes are included in the election results when available.

The addition of new (and old) election returns to the Archive will be noted in site updates here.