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Abortion Policy: An Upper Midwestern Snapshot

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In South Dakota a landmark petitioned referendum will be on the ballot this November, asking voters whether or not to uphold the recently signed State House Bill's abortion ban. Mid-summer polling on the referendum—which does not provide exceptions for rape and incest—suggests the referendum may not pass, with those inclined to vote 'nay' holding an eight-point advantage (KELO-TV / Argus Leader). So, just how supportive is the Upper Midwest of a woman's right to choose?

South Dakotans equally self-identify as pro-life (48%) as pro-choice (48%), followed by Iowans (41% / 54%), Minnesotans (40% / 55% ), and Wisconsinites (39% / 56%) (SurveyUSA). But how do these labels 'pro-life' and 'pro-choice' translate into policy positions?

It appears many Upper Midwesterners who are pro-life still view abortion as a personal choice. The vast majority of residents of each state feel the state and federal government should not have the final say on the matter (72% in Iowa, 70% in Wisconsin, 66% in Minnesota, and 59% in South Dakota) (SurveyUSA).

Still, despite being outnumbered, the power of the 'pro-life' movement can be felt at the ballot box: in June four republican members of the South Dakota state legislature who voted against the abortion ban were ousted in the primary. The extent to which social conservatives—especially religious conservatives—turn out to vote may not only spell victory or defeat for South Dakota's abortion referendum, but also close district-level races throughout the Upper Midwest.

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Remains of the Data

Gender Equality in the US House: A State-by State Quarter-Century Report Card (1989-2014)

A study of 5,325 congressional elections finds the number of female U.S. Representatives has more than tripled over the last 25 years, but the rate at which women are elected to the chamber still varies greatly between the states.

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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