Even with the renewed hope, Republicans were again fighting history. Minnesota has sided with the Democratic nominee in every election since 1976, longer than any other U.S. state. Republicans won the state only once in the last half century, when Richard Nixon took Minnesota in his landslide 1972 win.
Earlier in the 2012 cycle, Minnesota looked like a possible big player in the presidential race. Two home-state Republicans, former Gov. Tim Pawlenty and Rep. Michele Bachmann, sought the Republican nomination. Both washed out well before Romney secured the nomination, but Pawlenty was in the hunt to join the ticket as vice presidential candidate until Romney chose Ryan, a U.S. House member from Wisconsin.
Obama had a clear advantage out of the gate. He won the state in 2008 by 10 percentage points and his approval rating mostly held strong throughout his first term. No Republican has won a statewide race since Pawlenty survived a re-election scare in 2006, and joining Obama on the Democratic ticket this year was the popular and heavily favored Sen. Amy Klobuchar, who easily won re-election Tuesday.
Obama's campaign opened offices throughout the state while Romney lacked a significant Minnesota infrastructure.
AP writer Martiga Lohn contributed.