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Does Supreme Court Abortion Decision Signify Shift in Attitudes?

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In a 5-4 decision reached last week the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of a federal ban on the medical procedure known as 'partial birth abortion.' The procedure was a rallying cry for right-to-life advocates, although even some abortion rights supporters were in favor of the ban.

But this Supreme Court ruling should not be viewed as a turn in the tide of American's views towards the legality of abortion in general—at least not in the Upper Midwest. The majority of Iowans (55 percent), Minnesotans (54 percent) and Wisconsinites (56 percent) all identify themselves as "pro choice" (SurveyUSA, April 2007). Even residents in a red state like South Dakota (52 percent) are more likely to identify themselves as 'pro choice' than 'pro life' (SurveyUSA, November 2006).

Although the Supreme Court decision was a high profile news story, abortion is generally not considered one of the most important problems in the Upper Midwest. For example, in an October 2006 WPR / St. Norbert College poll only 1 percent of Wisconsinites viewed abortion as the nation's most important problem—behind 13 other issues.

However, when major changes in abortion policy come to the forefront—as it did in South Dakota in 2006 when state legislators and Governor Mike Rounds passed a complete ban (to be rejected last November by South Dakota voters)—it can become a major motivating factor behind the vote choice of the electorate. Abortion was viewed as the #1 determining factor (19 percent) for voters deciding how to vote in the 2006 governor's race, according to a June 2006 KELO-TV / Argus Leader poll.

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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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