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Who's Looking On the Sunny Side of Life?

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The Midwest…the heartland of America…where caustic coastal cynicism has not yet taken root and a hearty optimism about life in these United States still prevails. Syrupy, true, but that description about life in the Upper Midwest sounds like it might once have been plausible. But, of course, this description simply isn't true anymore: folks in the Upper Midwest are just as dour about the direction of the nation as those in California and Florida.

In Iowa 59 percent of its citizens think the country is headed in the wrong direction, with just 31 percent feeling the nation is on the right course (Iowa Poll, September 2006).

Minnesotans are a tad more skeptical, with 62 percent believing America is off on the wrong track and just 28 percent believing we're headed in the right direction (Pioneer Press / MPR, September 2006).

A stunning 68 percent of Wisconsinites think the country is going in the wrong direction, with only 27 percent feeling the United States is on the right path (Wisconsin Public Research Institute, June 2006).

The latest related polling in South Dakota is a year old, but the trend at that time was the same: 63 percent wrong direction, 32 percent right direction (Survey USA)—a 43 point net swing in negativity from a Daily Republic poll from just a year and a half prior (March 2004).

The extent of how this malaise will impact voter turnout and the fate of incumbents in November 2006 is yet to be determined, as citizens in all four states are more optimistic about the direction of their particular states. But—all things being equal—when the glasses of Upper Midwesterners turn from rose-colored to cloudy, those in power should be at least a bit nervous.

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2 Comments


  • Eric, I just wanted to let you know how much I am enjoying your blog. These are all very compelling and thoughtful posts. Anyway, keep up the great work!

    Question: You don't seem to focus on local races too much (MN House and Senate), but do you have any sense of how the two stadium approvals will impact the upcoming election?

  • > do you have any sense of how the two stadium approvals will impact the upcoming election?

    In recent polling, the issue of new stadiums has not registered among the Top 7 most important issues facing the state of Minnesota -- so I don't think this will be a defining issue in the November elections. Given it is not a top concern, I would be suprised if the truly disgruntled shifted the election results here by more than a single percentage point on this issue.

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    Remains of the Data

    Who Has Won the Most Votes in US Senate Electoral History?

    Only three of the Top 10 and nine of the Top 50 vote-getters of all time are currently serving in the chamber.

    Political Crumbs

    Six for Thirteen

    Collin Peterson remarked last month that he is leaning to run for reelection to Minnesota's 7th Congressional District in 2016. If he does and is victorious, he will creep even closer to the top of the list of the longest-serving U.S. Representatives in Minnesota history. The DFL congressman is only the sixth Minnesotan to win at least 13 terms to the U.S. House of the 135 elected to the chamber in state history. Peterson trails 18-term DFLer Jim Oberstar (1975-2011), 16-term Republicans Harold Knutson (1917-1949) and August Andresen (1925-1933; 1935-1958), and 14-term DFLers Martin Sabo (1979-2007) and John Blatnik (1947-1974). Andresen died in office, Sabo and Blatnik retired, and Knutson and Oberstar were defeated at the ballot box in 1948 and 2010 respectively. At 70 years, 7 months, 11 days through Monday, Peterson is currently the ninth oldest Gopher State U.S. Representative in history. DFLer Rick Nolan of the 8th CD is the seventh oldest at 71 years, 1 month, 23 days.


    Seeing Red

    Congressman Nick Rahall's failed bid for a 20th term in West Virginia this cycle, combined with a narrow loss by Nick Casey to Alex Mooney in Shelley Moore Capito's open seat, means that West Virginia Democrats will be shut out of the state's U.S. House delegation for the first time in over 90 years. The Republican sweep by two-term incumbent David McKinley in the 1st CD, Mooney in the 2nd, and Evan Jenkins over Rahall in the 3rd marks the first time the GOP has held all seats in the chamber from West Virginia since the Election of 1920. During the 67th Congress (1921-1923) all six seats from the state were controlled by the GOP. Since the Election of 1922, Democrats have won 76 percent of all U.S. House elections in the Mountain State - capturing 172 seats compared to 54 for the GOP.


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