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Unemployment Continues to Rise at Historic Pace Across Upper Midwest

June was not a good month for jobs in the Upper Midwest, with unemployment increasing in Minnesota and three of its four neighboring states - Iowa, South Dakota, and Wisconsin. While unemployment remains below the national average across the region, the current rate of increase of jobless claims remains on...

The Honeymoon Is Over: Obama Approval Rating Drops to 51 Percent in Minnesota

After six consecutive months of notching approval ratings between 59 and 65 percent in the Gopher State, President Barack Obama's job performance numbers haven taken a nose-dive in July, in not only Minnesota, but other key battleground states as measured by the polling firm SurveyUSA. SurveyUSA's latest monthly poll was...

Wisconsin Overtakes Minnesota as #1 State in Health Care Quality Rankings

The newly released 2008 state rankings by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Service's Agency for Health Care Research and Quality (AHRQ) finds the State of Wisconsin has passed Minnesota for overall health care quality in the United States. Minnesota, ranked #2 in 2008, was the top state in...

Iowa Endures Largest Monthly Increase in Unemployment in Quarter Century

The new numbers released late last week by Iowa Workforce Development continue to highlight the worst employment trend the Hawkeye State has faced in more than three decades. Iowa's seasonally adjusted unemployment rate increased from 5.1 in April to 5.8 percent in May - the biggest net and percentage increase...

Pawlenty Unallotment Strategy, Decision Not to Run in 2010 Have Little Impact on Approval Ratings

Just as Tim Pawlenty's announcement that he would use an unallotment strategy to resolve the state's budget crisis had little impact on his approval ratings in late May, his decision to not seek a third term as Minnesota's Governor also seems to have had little impact on his approval ratings...

Minnesota and Upper Midwest Being Spared the Worst of US Job Loss Crisis

While Minnesota and the rest of the Upper Midwestern states are still in the midst of enduring some of the largest unemployment rates each has endured for many years, most of the region is historically doing quite well on the employment front when compared to the situation of the country...

Is Conservatism on the Rise in Minnesota and the Upper Midwest?

While the last two election cycles have seen Upper Midwestern Republicans lose seats in state legislatures, lose seats to the U.S. House, and lose statewide elections for the U.S. Senate and the presidency, the conservative brand seems to be catching fire once again. A Smart Politics analysis of more than...

Pro-Life Stance on the Rise in Minnesota, Upper Midwest

A Gallup Poll released last Friday made headlines for its finding that a majority of Americans now identify themselves as “pro-life” as opposed to “pro-choice” on the issue of abortion, marking the first time that “pro-life” has been in the majority over the course of the last 15 years...

Iowa Unemployment Rate Falls for First Time in Nearly Three Years

New numbers released this week by Iowa Workforce Development find the Hawkeye State joining Minnesota, South Dakota, and North Dakota in seeing a slight drop in the unemployment rate for the month of April. Iowa’s jobless rate fell from 5.2 in March to 5.1 percent – marking the first drop...

Should Minnesota's Corrections Budget Be Increased?

The passage of public safety legislation this week in the Senate (SF 802) and House (HF 1162) included a reduction of approximately $100 million of the base budgets across more than a dozen departments – the largest being a $34.2 million cut to the Department of Corrections. However, the bill...

Iowa Least Affected by Unemployment Increases in the Upper Midwest

Although the unemployment numbers released during the past week by Iowa Workforce Development find the Hawkeye State with its highest seasonally adjusted jobless rate since December 1987, Iowans are not losing their jobs at the rate endured by other Upper Midwestern states. At 5.2 percent, Iowa's current unemployment rate is...

Charles Grassley: Folksiness with an Edge

At 75 years old, the longest elected U.S. Senator in Iowa history, the 11th most senior member of the U.S. Senate, and having cast more than 10,000 votes in Capitol Hill's upper chamber, Republican Senator Charles Grassley is just getting started. Or so it seems. Now 34+ years into...

Upper Midwestern States Bearing the Brunt of Rising Unemployment

Although the majority of Upper Midwestern states are currently experiencing some of the lowest unemployment rates in the country, the rate of increase, particularly during the last four months, has hit this region of the country particularly hard. Overall, three of the five states with the lowest unemployment rates in...

Is Minnesota the Most Democratic-Friendly State in the Midwest?

Smart Politics recently examined Governor Tim Pawlenty's approval rating and highlighted its remarkable strength and stability in the face of the current economic crisis. But Pawlenty's popularity is also noteworthy when viewed in the greater partisan environment of the Gopher State. A Smart Politics analysis of state and federal officeholders...

What Do Iowans Think About Gay Marriage?

The Iowa Supreme Court’s decision on Friday to uphold an August 2007 lower-court decision that found the Hawkeye State law limiting marriage to a man and a woman unconstitutional is not likely to be met with strong support statewide, according to public opinion polls of Iowans conducted during the last...

Obama Sustains Early Support in Minnesota; Falters in Wisconsin and Iowa

SurveyUSA’s latest round of approval ratings for President Barack Obama have been released for a dozen states across the country, in polling conducted March 20-22 of 600 adults in each state. Although the President has had a consistently higher job performance rating during the first three months of his tenure...

Upper Midwest House Members Vote 18-5 in Favor of TARP Bailout Bonus Tax

On Thursday, Upper Midwestern U.S. House Democrats unanimously supported a bill that would impose an additional tax on bonuses received from certain Troubled Assets Relief Program (TARP) recipients. The measured passed 328 to 93 in the lower chamber. The bill (HR 1586) taxes at 90 percent bonuses given to employees...

Minnesota Legislature Ranks Near Bottom in Proportional Representation of African-Americans

Although Minnesota has the 4th highest percentage of women serving in state legislatures nationwide, the Gopher State only ranks 40th in the country in terms of proportional representation of African-Americans in St. Paul. Out of the 201 legislators in the State House and Senate, only 2 members are black -...

Obama's New Stem Cell Policy Likely to Have Strong Support in Minnesota

President Barack Obama's decision on Monday to permit federal funds for a greater spectrum of embryonic stem cell research is likely to be met with overwhelming support in the Gopher State, as well as the Upper Midwest generally. Obama's directive overturns his predecessor's policy that limited the use of federal...

Minnesota Ranks 4th in the Nation in Electing Women to State Legislatures

Unlike its Upper Midwestern neighbors, Minnesota continues to be among the nation's leading states in electing women to state legislative office, according an analysis by Smart Politics of data compiled by the National Conference of State Legislatures. For the second straight election cycle, 34.8 percent of Representatives and Senators in...



Political Crumbs

Final Four Has Presidential Approval

By edging Michigan in the final seconds Sunday, the University of Kentucky guaranteed that one school in the Final Four this year would be located in a state that was not carried by President Barack Obama in 2012. (Connecticut, Florida, and Wisconsin had previously earned Final Four slots over the weekend). Across the 76 Final Fours since 1939, an average of 3.1 schools have been located in states won by the president's ticket during the previous election cycle. All four schools have come from states won by the president 29 times, with the most recent being the 2009 Final Four featuring Connecticut, Michigan State, North Carolina, and Villanova. On 30 occasions three Final Four schools have been located in states won by the president, with two schools 11 times and only one school six times (the most recent being 2012 with Kansas, Kentucky, Louisville, and Ohio State). There has never been a Men's NCAA Division I Final Four in which no schools were located in states carried by the president's ticket.


Three for the Road

A new Rasmussen Poll shows Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker in a dead heat with likely 2014 Democratic nominee Mary Burke. Walker is seeking to win his third consecutive election after prevailing in 2012's recall contest. Eight of his predecessors accomplished this feat: Republicans Lucius Fairchild (in 1869), Jeremiah Rusk (1886), Robert La Follette (1904), Emanuel Philipp (1918), John Blaine (1924), Walter Kohler (1954), Warren Knowles (1968), and Tommy Thompson (1994). Three others Badger State governors lost on their third campaign: Democrat George Peck (1894), Progressive Philip La Follette (1938), and Republican Julius Heil (1942). One died in office before having the opportunity to win a third contest (GOPer Walter Goodland in 1947) while another resigned beforehand (Democrat Patrick Lucey in 1977 to become Ambassador to Mexico). Overall Wisconsin gubernatorial incumbents have won 35 of 47 general election contests, or 74.5 percent of the time.


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