St. Louis county? But this is Minnesota not Missouri! (
by Tony Petrangelo
Mar 16, 2022, 6:00 AM

hPVI 2021, Senate edition

It’s once again that time, the most anticipated event of the Minnesota political calendar, the bi-annual—covid rules edition—release of hPVI, Minnesota’s Oldest And Most Beloved Legislative District Metric™. If you’re unfamiliar with hPVI, here is an explainer I did for the 2017 edition. Short version, hPVI combines the results of the last Presidential and Gubernatorial elections in a legislative district into a composite result, which is the district’s hPVI.

Most of the partisan numbers you will see cited about the new districts are the last presidential race results, but hPVI has twice as many inputs, making it twice as good. That’s how math works.

Senate hPVI Histogram

2022 Senate hPVI histogram

This isn’t too far from the general shape of the histogram from the last round of hPVI in the old districts.

Year > R+20 R+20 – R+11 R+10 – Even Even – D+10 D+11 – D+20 > D+20 Total GOP Total DFL
2021 0 17 12 16 8 14 30 37
2019 2 15 16 16 7 11 33 34
2017 0 16 21 15 5 10 37 30

While the general shape has stayed the same, what you can see in the table above is that the GOP has been bleeding marginal districts to the DFL for the past few cycles. Compared to 2017, the DFL has added seven districts that are considered safe (>D+10), while the GOP has added one safe district. What’s more, while the DFL has gained a district that leans its way, the GOP has shed nine such districts.

While this breakdown gives an overall view of the distribution of districts, the majority of the action will not come in the D+9 or R+12 districts. It will come in the D+2 and R+1 districts. The following table shows the probability of a party winning a seat based on hPVI alone, and as you can see, it’s not until you get to hPVI numbers below five that districts begin to look competitive.

hPVI Edge Win Probability
12 99%
10 97%
7 90%
5 80%
3 70%
2 65%
1 55%

A common way that political analysts rate districts is on a safe/likely/lean continuum, and the same labels can be applied to hPVI scores. An hPVI of 10 or more would be safe, an hPVI of between 5 and 10 would be likely, an hPVI or between 2 and 5 would be a leaner, and an hPVI less than two would be a toss-up. If we use those buckets for the new Senate districts, this is how they shake out.

Safe GOP Likely GOP Lean GOP Toss-up Lean DFL Likely DFL Safe DFL
17 2 4 12 4 6 22
23 12 32

If the DFL can win all of the districts that they *should*, they only need to win two of the 12 toss-ups to achieve a Senate majority. While this seems like an excellent redistricting result for the DFL, let’s look at what the numbers would look like under the old map.

Safe GOP Likely GOP Lean GOP Toss-up Lean DFL Likely DFL Safe DFL
17 2 8 6 6 6 22
27 6 34

Under the old map, hPVI had the DFL favored to win the majority without any toss-up seats needed. But there are half as many toss-ups under the old map, and while the DFL would pick up two additional seats in which they would be favored, the GOP adds four.

Other then being a bit more competitive, the old and new maps are pretty similar in the aggregate, even if Edinites might not think so.

The Toss-ups

Here are 12 districts that fall into the toss-up category.

District Incumbent* Party hPVI
4 Kent Eken DFL Even
7 Open D+1
14 Aric Putnam DFL D+2
24 Carla Nelson GOP EVEN
26 Jeremy Miller GOP EVEN
32 Open EVEN
33 Open EVEN
37 Warren Limmer GOP D+1
41 Open D+2
48 Julia Coleman GOP R+1
54 Karla Bigham DFL R+2
58 Open R+1
* Since these are new districts, you can make a case that no one is an incumbent.

Of the 12 toss-ups, three have a DFL incumbent, four a GOP incumbent, and the remaining five are open. If both parties win all the non-toss-up seats, though, as mentioned earlier, the DFL only needs to win two out of the above 12 districts to achieve a majority. The obvious problem with that math is that the upcoming election will be the first midterm under a new President, which historically is terrible news for that party. The current President’s party is the same as the DFL, even if they have different names. From a recent historical perspective, the DFL winning the majority this cycle would be a minor miracle.

Beyond the headwinds presented by the political environment itself, the current iteration of hPVI is likely to be overly optimistic of the DFLs chances in general. Below is a graph of the DFL statewide composite used in the hPVI calculations over the last four cycles.

hPVI DFL Composite 2015-2021

To explain more fully, each bar is the average of the DFL’s share of the two-party vote in the previous Presidential and Gubernatorial elections. So 2015 is the DFLs two-party average for the 2012 Presidential and the 2014 Gubernatorial elections. 2017 is the DFLs two-party average for the 2014 Gubernatorial and 2016 Presidential elections. As the above graph ably demonstrates, 2021 was a high-water mark for the DFL two-party average.

It’s these two-party composite averages that make up hPVI, and the 2021 version of the two-party average is the highest it’s been for the DFL in a long time. All of which is to say, if these numbers seem a bit bullish for the DFL, that’s because they probably are.

Below is the complete table of districts. I didn’t include any information about incumbents because much is still up in the air. Instead, each district has a region label (arbitrarily defined by me) and some of the cities in the district.

Senate hPVI Table

rPVI = raw hPVI

District rPVI hPVI Region Citie(s)
1 -0.132 R+13 North West East Grand Forks, Roseau, Thief River Falls
2 -0.044 R+4 North Central Bagley, Baudette, Bemidji
3 0.028 D+3 North East Ely, Grand Marais, Two Harbors
4 -0.005 EVEN North West Detroit Lakes, Moorhead
5 -0.186 R+19 Central Central Long Prairie, Park Rapids, Wadena
6 -0.105 R+10 Central Central Baxter, Brainerd, Grand Rapids
7 0.007 D+1 North East Eveleth, Hibbing, Virginia
8 0.210 D+21 North East Duluth
9 -0.144 R+14 Central West Fergus Falls, Perham, Wheaton
10 -0.199 R+20 Central Central Aitkin, Little Falls
11 -0.044 R+4 Central East Carlton, Cloquet, Moose Lake
12 -0.141 R+14 Central West Alexandria, Benson, Morris
13 -0.142 R+14 Central Central Sartell, Sauk Rapids, St. Joseph
14 0.018 D+2 Central Central St. Cloud
15 -0.122 R+12 South West Madison, New Ulm, Redwood Falls
16 -0.121 R+12 Central Central Litchfield, Renville, Willmar
17 -0.163 R+16 Central Central Hutchinson, Gaylord
18 0.091 D+9 South Central Mankato, North Mankato
19 -0.081 R+8 South Central Owatonna, Waseca
20 -0.068 R+7 South East Marion, Red Wing, Wabasha
21 -0.132 R+13 South West Luverne, Windom, Worthington
22 -0.111 R+11 South Central Blue Earth, Fairmont
23 -0.033 R+3 South Central Albert Lea, Austin
24 -0.004 EVEN South East Mantorville, Rochester
25 0.107 D+11 South East Rochester
26 0.001 EVEN South East La Crescent, Spring Valley, Winona
27 -0.188 R+19 Central Central Big Lake, Princeton, Zimmerman
28 -0.130 R+13 Central East Cambridge, Isanti, Lindstrom
29 -0.132 R+13 Central Central Buffalo, Delano, Monticello
30 -0.125 R+13 Central Central Elk River, Otsego, St. Michael
31 -0.113 R+11 Metro Andover, East Bethel, Ramsey
32 -0.003 EVEN Metro Blaine, Columbus, Ham Lake
33 0.005 EVEN Metro Forest Lake, Hugo, Stillwater
34 0.049 D+5 Metro Brooklyn Park, Champlin, Rogers
35 0.025 D+2 Metro Andover, Anoka, Coon Rapids
36 0.043 D+4 Metro Lino Lakes, Vadnais Heights, White Bear Lake
37 0.012 D+1 Metro Corcoran, Maple Grove, Medina
38 0.210 D+21 Metro Brooklyn Center, Brooklyn Park
39 0.185 D+18 Metro Columbia Heights, Fridley, New Brighton
40 0.145 D+15 Metro Mounds View, Roseville, Shoreview
41 0.015 D+2 Metro Cottage Grove, Hastings, Lake Elmo
42 0.102 D+10 Metro Maple Grove, Plymouth
43 0.209 D+21 Metro Crystal, Golden Valley, New Hope
44 0.121 D+12 Metro Maplewood, North St. Paul, Oakdale
45 0.059 D+6 Metro Minnetonka, Minnetrista, Orono
46 0.236 D+24 Metro Edina, Hopkins, St. Louis Park
47 0.096 D+10 Metro Maplewood, Woodbury
48 -0.011 R+1 Metro Chanhassen, Chaska, Waconia
49 0.115 D+12 Metro Eden Prairie, Minnetonka
50 0.150 D+15 Metro Bloomington, Edina
51 0.202 D+20 Metro Bloomington, Minneapolis, Richfield
52 0.128 D+13 Metro Burnsville, Eagan, Mendota Heights
53 0.093 D+9 Metro Cottage Grove, Inver Grove Heights, South St. Paul
54 -0.019 R+2 Metro Jordan, Prior Lake, Shakopee
55 0.075 D+8 Metro Burnsville, Savage
56 0.082 D+8 Metro Apple Valley, Eagan, Rosemount
57 -0.042 R+4 Metro Elko, Lakeville
58 -0.006 R+1 Metro Farmington, New Prague, Northfield
59 0.357 D+36 Metro Minneapolis
60 0.375 D+37 Metro Minneapolis
61 0.375 D+38 Metro Minneapolis
62 0.426 D+43 Metro Minneapolis
63 0.379 D+38 Metro Minneapolis
64 0.331 D+33 Metro St. Paul
65 0.312 D+31 Metro St. Paul, West St. Paul
66 0.319 D+32 Metro Falcon Heights, Roseville, St. Paul
67 0.259 D+26 Metro St. Paul

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