Ilhan Omar squeaks out a win in the Democratic congressional primary

That Congresswoman Omar won last night was not the surprise. The shocking thing was her thin margin of victory.

Omar prevailed over former Minneapolis city council member Don Samuels by two percent, or a little more than 2,000 votes cast.

It was the fewest votes she has received in three primary elections for Congress and her narrowest winning margin.

It was in sharp contrast to her overwhelming performance in 2020, when she minted tens of thousands of new votes, in curiously precise patterns.

With restricting changing the shapes of all congressional and state legislative districts in 2022, direct comparisons to past elections are not possible.

The footprint of her 5th Congressional District seat shrank slightly with redistricting, losing the City of Hopkins and part of Edina to the 3rd District.

It’s possible that the loss of that suburban territory cost Samuels an outright win in the contest. As MinnPost points out, Omar beat Samuels in the City of Minneapolis, but Samuels outperformed her in suburban cities.

Regardless, the fall in the overall vote totals of 63,000, some 36 percent, can’t be fully explained by the reduction in district size. True, the big state Democratic races held little drama, with all incumbents running for reelection without significant opposition. Perhaps Democratic voters had less reason to turn out this year.

Notably, the number of voters in the Omar/Samuels contest who didn’t bother voting in other contests fell significantly this year compared to the equivalent races in 2020.

An early hint at her growing unpopularity occurred in early July, when Omar was booed off the stage at a Somali concert event in Minneapolis. In an even earlier indication, she significantly underperformed the rest of the Democratic ticket in her 38-point margin of victory in the 2020 general election, down significantly from her 56-point margin from November 2018.

Last night’s near upset requires further analysis. Stay tuned.