Reviewing the 2016 presidential election I was surprised to see that the tool of the "Never Trump" Bill Kristol faction, Evan McMullin, actually cost Donald Trump Minnesota of all places.
There had been some conjecture that McMullin, a Mormon, might either steal the state of Utah from Trump of take away so many of Trump's votes in the state he would hand it to Hillary Clinton.
In the end the schemes of McMullin, Kristol and Clinton came to nought as Trump got more than double McMullin's total and almost more votes (45.54%) in Utah than Clinton/McMullin did combined.
Trump's smashing of the "Blue Wall" on election night ran through Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan, Wisconsin and Iowa.
This mighty tide (although he won WI/PA/MI by a combined figure of under 100,000 votes his overcoming of the 2012 Dem majorities in these states was remarkable) ebbed in Minnesota.
Fortunately though Trump's winning of these five states ensured his election, which it would have done, remarkably, even without his winning Florida.
A closer look at the Minnesota result bodes extremely well for the Republicans in the 2020 presidential election as the basis for an extension of the "rust belt" strategy into that state is clear.
Trump lost by only 1.52 points and only 44,765 votes. McMullin received 53,076. Even allowing for 8,000 to have not voted if McMullin had not run the combined Trump/McMullin vote (46.72%) would have seen Trump win in a squeaker-but it's Minnesota which even withstood the 49 state Reagan landslide of 1984.
Would the majority of McMullin votes have gone for Trump? Surely McMullin's Mormonism wasn't a factor, but if not, what was?
McMullin was endorsed and stood for the Independence Party a descendant of Jesse Ventura's erstwhile Reform Party so there was some base and history to build on for him which explains his unusually large vote there.
Would, in the absence of McMullin, the libertarian element have voted for Hillary, the seeming bleeding of Trump's support to the actual Libertarian Gary Johnson indicates not.
If this opportunity to pick up the McMullin vote in 2020 comes to fruition it has meaning beyond expanding the Republican inroads into the Democratic north.
If the trend in Arizona wit hits substantial and growing Hispanic population is to the Democratic party the loss of its 11 Electoral College votes would be countered by the ten Electoral votes of Minnesota going into the GOP's columns.