MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Minnesota voters had the economy weighing heavily on their minds as they decided Tuesday whether to extend Democrats' long dominance of presidential politics in the state. Meanwhile, the state's voters cast ballots on two proposals to significantly rewrite the state's constitution.
A preliminary exit poll conducted in Minnesota for The Associated Press found economic worries outpacing health care reform, foreign policy and the federal budget deficit as state voters' main concern. About six in 10 Minnesota voters said the economy is the most important issue facing the country — three times more than any other issue.
While interest in the race between President Barack Obama and Republican Mitt Romney was high, the state's hardest-fought campaigns were over the amendments: one to ban gay marriage and one to require photo ID to vote in future elections. Both issues brought many voters out Tuesday — some who waited in two-hour lines.
There were a few glitches — some mechanical issues in Minneapolis, some confusion over redistricting, and a ballot in Duluth containing the name of someone no longer running — but elections officials say voting was running smoothly overall.
In Minneapolis, voting machines in a small number of precincts were experiencing mechanical problems. Voters were still allowed to complete ballots, and they were stored in a safe place until they could be counted.
When it comes to the issues, the spotlight fell on the amendments in part because Minnesota's top-of-the-ticket races were sleepier than in years past. Minnesota drew some late attention from Obama and Romney after a poll showed the race tightening, but it was nothing compared with the neighboring battlegrounds of Iowa and Wisconsin. Obama was looking to grab Minnesota's 10 electoral votes for a second time. No Republican has carried Minnesota since Richard Nixon in 1972.
Voters said Tuesday that the economy, health care, and foreign policy issues weighed heavily as they made their decisions.
"The last four years have been crap," said Marvin Grover Cleveland, 73, of Roseville, who voted for Romney. "It's the economy. It went downhill. The debt has gone up so far. ... Let's try something else."
Rene Maas, an over-50-year-old business analyst from Plymouth, voted for Obama, saying he needs more time.
"I think he's made great strides and he's really trying to get us moving in the right direction. It's not going to be an instant change," she said. "You can't recover an economy fast. It's going to take a while. It took a while to get into the mess."
Opponents of the marriage amendment outraised supporters by about two-to-one. But backers had history on their side: No gay marriage ban had ever been defeated at the hands of any state's voters.
Photo ID requirements for voters are spreading through the country, but only Mississippi has had one enacted through a constitutional amendment process.