5 Minnesota maps to help you make sense of things before Election Day

After taking a look at the national picture on Thursday, GoMN has scoured the internet to find maps of Minnesota that are relevant as we approach Nov. 8.

On election night, maps are the go-to visual for TV stations covering the results. But what can they tell us before the election?

After taking a look at the national picture on Thursday, GoMN again searched the internet to find maps of Minnesota that are relevant – and should pique your interest as we approach Nov. 8.

How Minnesota voted in 2012

This breakdown by precinct of how Minnesota voted in 2012 shows, like in other parts of the country, the differences between urban and rural voters.

The inset picture shows Democrat support was strongest in the inner Twin Cities, with the margins of victory reducing in the suburbs. Republicans picked up the occasional precinct win in that area.

People in rural areas, with an exception of those living in the more liberal northeastern parts of the state and a few pockets of northern and northwestern Minnesota, tended to vote Republican.

The Twin Cities metro area has a population of about 3.5 million, taking up the majority of the state's 5.5 million people, and is the main reason Barack Obama won the state. This map, courtesy of the 2010 U.S. Census, gives you a closer look at the population spread.

College education breakdown of Minnesota

This map shows the level of education across Minnesota counties. The more purple the county, the higher the proportion of residents with a bachelor's college degree or higher (among people who are at least 25 years old).

According to polls from earlier this summer, as reported by Bloomberg, one significant area in which Donald Trump has been trailing Hillary Clinton is among white voters with college degrees.

Because of his apparent poor record with women, which is affecting his polling numbers among educated whites, FiveThirtyEight reports Trump could become the first Republican candidate in 60 years to lose the white, college-educated vote.

He also trails well behind Clinton among black and Hispanic voters of all education levels, but he does have a lead among white voters whose education ended at high school.

The map shows areas of central, west-central, northwestern and southern Minnesota, which are predominantly agricultural, tend to have fewer residents with a college degree. That might be where Trump can expect to do well in Minnesota this year.

Age map of Minnesota

This map highlights the areas of Minnesota where over-65s live, with the darkest purple representing the highest proportion of people who receive a pension, and the lighter purple the least.

Morning Consult reports Trump has a lead of 16 points over Clinton among those over 65 years old.

On the other hand, polls suggest Clinton has a sizable lead – about 17 points – over Trump when it comes to voters under the age of 45. This grows to 24 points for Millennials (18-34) with college degrees, and Clinton still leads Trump by 12 points among Millennials without college degrees.

In Minnesota, there are proportionally fewer over-65s in the state's most populated areas, again suggesting the advantage is with Clinton. But it should be remembered that voting turnout is much lower among younger people. For example, this was Minnesota's turnout in 2012.

Early voting in Minnesota

The maps below, tweeted by the Pioneer Press' David Montgomery, show the number of people that as of Oct. 20 had submitted their voting ballots early.

The highest numbers of early votes, unsurprisingly given it's the most populated area, have come from the Twin Cities.

New York Magazine reports between 30 and 40 percent of voters nationally will cast their ballots before Nov. 8, a significant increase compared to previous elections.

But there's not much early voting can tell us about the election, the magazine says, arguing that early voters tend to see parties "banking" reliable votes.

This does give parties advantage in the sense that they can concentrate more on undecided or marginal voters. But don't place much credence in anyone claiming victory based on early voting polls.

FiveThirtyEight suggests Clinton could have a slight advantage simply by virtue of having a better ground game than Trump, allowing her to more effectively capitalize on early voting.

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