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Upper Midwest Leads the Nation in 2006 Voter Turnout

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The Upper Midwest continued to set the pace for election turnout in this year's mid-term elections. While preliminary, unofficial numbers are only available in some states, it appears the Upper Midwest has locked down 3 of the top 6 slots in voter turnout (turnout can be calculated by a variety of methods but is defined here as the total votes cast for the highest office on the ballot in a state divided by the number of people eligible by law to vote in that state).

Minnesota once again led the country with a turnout rate of 59.6%. This is the lowest mid-term voter performance in Minnesota since 1994 (54.2%). In 2002 63.1% of Minnesotans voted, nearly 3 points higher than 1998 (60.2%), and the highest level in more than 45 years.

Not surprisingly, South Dakota also had a very high turnout on Election Day at 57.8% - which was good for second best in the nation. This is an impressive number considering South Dakota did not have a competitive gubernatorial or at-large US House race this year. In 2002, the state's turnout eclipsed 60% in the wake of one of the closest US Senate races in South Dakota history (with Democrat incumbent Tim Johnson edging John Thune by 500 votes). Turnout in 2006 may have been boosted by several referenda on the ballot, including a controversial abortion ban that was defeated by voters.

Wisconsin emerged with an impressive 52.6% turnout, and sixth best in the nation. This is the highest voter turnout in the Badger State since 1962 when 53.0% of Wisconsinites came to the polls. Voters were particularly engaged in the electoral process in 2006 by the state's competitive governor's race, a rare competitive US House race (in the 8th Congressional district), an unusually high-profile battle for Attorney General, and referenda on the death penalty and the definition of marriage. The 2006 turnout in Wisconsin was therefore noticeably higher than in recent mid-term elections: 44.8% in 2002, 46.1% in 1998, 42.5% in 1994, and 35.3% in 1990.

Iowa's turnout in 2006 was 47.4%, good for 15th best in the United States, despite a high profile gubernatorial race and three competitive US House races out of five congressional districts. This level of voter interest in Iowa was on par with recent mid-term elections: 47.1% in 2002, 44.7% in 1998, 47.0% in 1994, and 48.3% in 1990.

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Remains of the Data

Which States Own the Best Track Record in Backing Eventual GOP Presidential Nominees?

Nine states (each with primaries) have an unblemished record in voting for the eventual Republican nominee since 1976 - and not all host contests on the back end of the calendar.

Political Crumbs

Evolving?

When Scott Walker "punted" back in February after being asked if he was comfortable with the idea of evolution he added, "That's a question a politician shouldn't be involved in one way or the other." However, it may very well be a question that is asked at one of the upcoming GOP debates this year. In South Carolina during the first GOP debate in 2012, FOX News' Juan Williams asked Tim Pawlenty, "Do you equate the teaching of creationism with the teaching of evolution as the basis for what should be taught for our nation's schools?" Pawlenty replied, "There should be room in the curriculum for study of intelligent design" but that it was up to the local school districts if it should be in a science class or comparative theory class. At the fourth Republican debate held in California, Jon Huntsman addressed the GOP becoming "anti-science" thusly: "Listen, when you make comments that fly in the face of what 98 out of 100 climate scientists have said, when you call into question the science of evolution, all I'm saying is that, in order for the Republican Party to win, we can't run from science. We can't run from mainstream conservative philosophy."


73 Months and Counting

January's preliminary Bureau of Labor Statistics numbers show Minnesota's unemployment rate of 3.7 percent was once again lower than Wisconsin's 5.0 percent. That marks the 73rd consecutive month in which Minnesota has boasted a lower jobless rate than its neighbor to the east dating back to January 2009 including each of the last 67 months by at least one point. The Gopher State has now edged Wisconsin in the employment border battle for 204 of the last 216 months dating back to February 1997. Wisconsin only managed a lower unemployment rate than Minnesota for the 12 months of 2008 during this 18-year span.


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