The 2020 election can be considered one of the most consequential in modern American history, and college students across the country want to know whether they should register to vote back home or in the district in which their college is located. Regardless of the composition of your home district, it is important to consider voting here in Rice County.
Your personal connection to both communities notwithstanding, Rice County is a place with a high impact vote. Any purple district, where Democrats and Republicans both have a serious chance to win, will afford your vote more weight. Rice County is certainly purple.
As one of the 206 pivot counties—counties that voted for Obama, Obama and then Trump in 2008 through 2016—Rice County is situated to be vitally important in both state and national politics. These pivot counties were the main marker of the political upheaval that won President Donald Trump the election and carried Republican races down ticket in 2016. Both Trump and Vice President Joe Biden’s campaigns need many of these pivot counties to go their way, especially in Minnesota.
While Minnesota is not typically considered a swing state, the change in electoral math and demographics of the two major parties push it dangerously close to becoming one. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton won Minnesota in 2016 on a margin of nearly 45,000 votes, under 1.5 percent of votes in the state. Minnesota, considered the most likely Republican presidential pickup from 2016 to 2020, is a state with national importance.
Of course, the 2020 election is not just for the president; in fact, most people’s state representatives will have more influence on their lives than the presidential administration. The race for the 20th Senate District in Minnesota is between Democratic Farmer Labor (DFL) candidate Jon Olsen and Republican incumbent Rich Draheim and is set to be a crucial battleground election to determine partisan control of the state Senate, which is the only branch of state government not controlled by the DFL. As far as local politics go, the issues in Northfield are largely independent of ours here on the hill, so it will take personal involvement to determine your stake in local elections.
In terms of the congressional election, DFL incumbent Angie Craig has only served one term and won by a small margin in 2018, which leaves her somewhat vulnerable to her Republican challenger, Tyler Kistner. Whether you support the first lesbian mother in Congress or the 9-year Marine veteran, the election is expected to be close, and as a congressional district that went for Trump in 2016 and went blue in 2018, the Minnesota 2nd will serve as a litmus test for similar races around the country.
Regardless of your party affiliation, the district you come from or your connection to the communities, this is the case for voting here in Rice County.
Logan Graham is from Warrenville, IL. His majors are economics and philosophy.