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The Upper Midwestern Voting Bloc in Presidential Elections

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Iowa, Minnesota, and Wisconsin have been (correctly) labeled as key battleground states in recent presidential elections. With the exception of George W. Bush’s narrow victory in the Hawkeye State in 2004, the three states have voted as a bloc dating back to 1988, when Michael Dukakis swept the region.

However, the Upper Midwest has not always been of one voice when it comes to presidential politics. Overall, the three states have supported the same presidential nominee in 26 of 37 contests (70 percent), dating back to when Minnesota first cast its vote for president in 1860.

Prior to the Democratic run through the region from 1988 through 2000, the three states frequently did not support the same nominee: from 1960 through 1984, the three states only voted as one bloc two times – in 1964 for Lyndon B. Johnson and in 1972 for Richard M. Nixon.

In the 1800s, however, the Upper Midwest was Republican country, and the states voted together in eight straight elections, from 1860 to 1888.

In 1892 Wisconsin briefly bucked that trend by backing Democrat Grover Cleveland by 6,224 votes in his rematch against Republican Benjamin Harrison.

The three states voted Republican as a group for four more election cycles, from 1896 (William McKinley) through 1908 (William H. Taft).

In 1912 it was the Gopher State that pulled away, voting for Teddy Roosevelt and the Progressive ticket instead of Democrat Woodrow Wilson.

From 1916 through 1936, all states voted together, with the exception of Wisconsin backing Progressive Robert LaFollette in 1924.

Iowa pulled its support from FDR, voting Republican in the 1940 and 1944 elections, with Wisconsin joining the Hawkeye State in 1944, opting for GOP nominee Thomas Dewey.

Then, beginning in 1948, the region voted as a bloc in three straight elections, first Democratic (Harry S. Truman) and then for Republican Dwight D. Eisenhower in 1952 and 1956.

Overall, Wisconsin and Iowa have been much more unified – voting together in 35 of 40 elections since 1848 (88 percent) – failing to vote the same only in 1892, 1924, 1940, 1976, and 2004 (with Iowa voting Republican in each of those years).

Iowa and Minnesota have voted together in 28 of 37 elections (76 percent) while Minnesota and Wisconsin have voted the same in 29 of 37 elections (78 percent).

Previous post: Presidential Politics in Wisconsin: A Historical Overview
Next post: Battleground States Through the Lens of the U.S. Senate

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Remains of the Data

Plurality-Winning Governors Elected At Century-Long High Water Mark

The rate of gubernatorial candidates elected without the support of a majority of voters is at its highest level since the 1910s.

Political Crumbs

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.


Home Field Advantage?

When the 114th Congress convenes in a few days, Maine will be represented by one home-grown U.S. Representative: Waterville-born Republican Bruce Poliquin. With the departure of Millinocket-born Mike Michaud, who launched a failed gubernatorial bid, the Pine Tree State was poised to send a House delegation to D.C. without any Maine-born members for the first time since 1821. Three-term U.S. Rep. Chellie Pingree (born in Minnesota) coasted to reelection as expected, however Poliquin edged Kentucky-born Emily Cain by 5.3 points to keep the streak alive. Since 1876, a total of 208 of the 222 candidates elected to the nation's lower legislative chamber from the state have been born in Maine, or 94 percent.


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