At the time of his death, Wellstone was slightly ahead in the polls. After Walter Mondale was chosen as the DFL candidate, in a poll taken a few days before the election Mondale was leading 51% to 45%. Early on Election Day, Mondale was leading in votes. By nightfall, however, Norm Coleman pulled ahead, winning by 49.5 percent to 47.3 percent.
After Norm Coleman was declared the winner, Walter Mondale conceded and said in his speech, "At the end of what will be my last campaign, I want to say to Minnesota, you always treated me well, you always listened to me." Mondale's loss of this election, combined with his landslide defeat in the United States presidential election in 1984, made him the only American to lose an election in all 50 states. Although Mondale did not seek office again, he remained active politically. The election victor, Norm Coleman, was sworn-in on January 3, 2003 as the first Republican to hold that Senate seat since Rudy Boschwitz left office in 1991. Coleman would serve in the United States Senate until losing to Al Franken by a very small margin in the following election.