What’s at stake
Behind in the national polls and in most swing states, Donald Trump faces a tough task: peel electoral votes away from Joe Biden in states Hillary Clinton carried. Minnesota is relatively well-stocked, with 10 votes on offer – 10 the president will badly need if Mr Biden seizes back one of the crucial Midwestern states that gave Mr Trump his victory.
Last time around
Minnesota has not backed a Republican presidential candidate since Richard Nixon swept the board in 1972, but Hillary Clinton came surprisingly close to losing it. She carried the state by fewer than 45,000 votes out of nearly 3 million cast.
Read more: The Electoral College, explained
This close call was part of the pattern of underperformance in the upper Midwest that saw Ms Clinton lose neighbouring Wisconsin by an even thinner margin.
On the ground
It was in Minnesota that this summer’s seismic racial justice movement kicked off. Footage of the killing of George Floyd by police officers in a Minneapolis street sparked protests and riots in the state’s largest city, and then across the US – and even the world.
Mr Trump has responded to those events principally by calling for “law and order” and touting his support of law enforcement, repeatedly claiming to have “brought out the National Guard” to restore peace to the streets of Minneapolis. In fact, that decision was taken by Democratic governor Tim Walz, himself a former guardsman.
The home stretch
In Minnesota as in Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and elsewhere, the Democrats’ standard strategy is to drive up the vote in relatively young, diverse and liberal cities to counter more Republican-leaning rural and suburban areas.
Read more: Should you trust the polls in 2020?
While polling has put Mr Biden ahead to varying degrees throughout the year, both he and Mr Trump have taken their campaigns to Minnesota in the final furlong before Election Day – a sign that the race remains close. The state is also home to a competitive Senate race, with Democrat Tina Smith defending a seat she carried by nearly 11 points in a special election in 2018.
With less than a week to go, a spanner was thrown in the works on Thursday when a federal appeals court ruled that the state’s mail-in ballots must arrive before 8pm on election day in order to be counted, rather than simply being postmarked by or on 3 November. The decision effectively means that postal voters who have not yet mailed their ballots are too late to do so.