With the final results (court challenge pending) certified by the State Canvassing Board on Monday finding Al Franken with a 225-vote victory over Norm Coleman, the 2008 U.S. Senate race nearly eclipsed the 1962 gubernatorial election as the closest high-profile statewide election in Gopher State history.

For 46 years and counting, the 1962 gubernatorial contest has held the record as the narrowest margin of victory among presidential, gubernatorial, and U.S. Senate elections in Minnesota. That race’s 91-vote difference, in which DFLer Karl Rolvagg defeated 1-term Republican incumbent Elmer L. Andersen, had a margin of victory of 7.2985 thousandths of a percent (.000072985).

While the 2008 Senate race was decided by 134 more votes, some 2.92+ million Minnesotans cast their ballots, compared to just 1.24+ million in 1962. As such, the margin of victory in the 2008 Senate race just missed setting a new record with a margin of victory of 7.7022 thousandths of a percent (.000077022).

Had Franken defeated Coleman by just 12 fewer votes (213), the margin of victory would have been 7.2793 thousandths of a percent – and become a new state record in elections for these high profile offices.

The net result is that the 1962 gubernatorial election was 4.037 ten-thousandths of a percentage point more tightly decided than the 2008 Senate contest.

Prior to 1962, the closest presidential, gubernatorial, or U.S. Senate race was the 1916 presidential election, in which Republican Charles E. Hughes defeated Democrat Woodrow Wilson in the Gopher State by 392 votes with a margin of victory of 1.0119 tenths of a percent (.0010119).

Margin of Victory Difference in Minnesota 1962 Gubernatorial and 2008 U.S. Senate Races

Vote difference
Total votes
MoV (percent)
1962 Gubernatorial
2008 U.S. Senate