At stake are the state's 10 electoral votes.

Virtually ignored by both presidential candidates for most of the race, Minnesota got a last-minute burst of attention after a recent poll showed the race had tightened considerably.

At stake are the state's 10 electoral votes. President Barack Obama, hoping for a repeat of his 2008 win here, was trying to preserve Minnesota's decades-long record of backing Democrats for president. Buoyed by a poll showing Obama's lead had shrunk to within the margin of error, Romney made a last-minute reach for Minnesota after sending virtually no resources for most of the campaign.

Both campaigns aired TV ads in Minnesota in the race's closing days. Both also sent high-profile surrogates: Republican vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan for Romney, and former President Bill Clinton for Obama.

The late flurry echoed recent presidential cycles, when Republicans tried to turn Minnesota into a presidential battleground. Four years ago and in the two campaigns before that, Minnesota voters were showered with attention and advertising from the candidates and their allies. Outside groups hoping for a Romney win had sprinkled some money in the state on ads criticizing Obama's leadership, and the incumbent aired a few ads of his own. But up until the last week or so, it all paled in comparison to their TV presence elsewhere.

Even with the renewed hope, Republicans were again fighting history. Minnesota has sided with the Democratic nominee in every election since 1976, longer than any other U.S. state. Republicans won the state only once in the last half century, when Richard Nixon took Minnesota in his landslide 1972 win.

Earlier in the 2008 cycle, Minnesota looked like a possible big player in the presidential race. Two home-state Republicans, former Gov. Tim Pawlenty and Rep. Michele Bachmann, sought the Republican nomination. Both washed out well before Romney secured the nomination, but Pawlenty was in the hunt to join the ticket as vice presidential candidate until Romney chose Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan.

Obama had a clear advantage out of the gate. He won the state in 2008 by 10 percentage points and his approval rating mostly held strong throughout his first term. No Republican has won a statewide race since Pawlenty survived a re-election scare in 2006, and joining Obama on the Democratic ticket this year is the popular and heavily favored Sen. Amy Klobuchar.

Obama's campaign opened offices throughout the state while Romney lacked a significant Minnesota infrastructure.