Go to HHH home page.
Smart Politics
 


Is Conservatism on the Rise in Minnesota and the Upper Midwest?

Bookmark and Share

While the last two election cycles have seen Upper Midwestern Republicans lose seats in state legislatures, lose seats to the U.S. House, and lose statewide elections for the U.S. Senate and the presidency, the conservative brand seems to be catching fire once again.

A Smart Politics analysis of more than 160 polls conducted in Minnesota, Iowa, and Wisconsin finds that the percentage of residents identifying themselves as having a conservative political ideology has been on the rise in each state since 2007.

The pattern is the same for each state: over the past 5 years, conservatism reached its peak in 2005, right after the 2004 elections. In 2005, one-third (33.4 percent) of Minnesota residents identified themselves as conservative, in a yearly aggregation of SurveyUSA polling data. That number was slightly higher for conservatives in Wisconsin (36.0 percent) and Iowa (36.6 percent).

In 2006, the percentage of Minnesotans identifying as conservatives plunged 5.3 points (15.9 percent) to just 28.1 percent of Gopher State residents. Self-identified conservatives in Iowa also declined by 5.1 points (13.9 percent) to 31.5 percent that year, with the largest drop occurring in Wisconsin, with a 6.1-point decline (16.9 percent) to 29.9 percent. In that November’s election cycle, Republicans lost control of the Minnesota House, the Iowa House, the Wisconsin Senate, as well as three U.S. House seats (MN-01, IA-01, WI-08).

The percentage of residents identifying as conservatives declined again in 2007, by 1.6 points in Minnesota (to 26.5 percent), by 3.0 points in Iowa (to 28.5 percent), and by 2.2 points in Wisconsin (to 27.7 percent).

However, during the last two years, conservatism seems to be mounting a comeback in the Upper Midwest, even though the 2008 election cycle saw Republicans lose control of the Wisconsin Assembly, and lose additional seats in the Minnesota House, Minnesota Senate, Iowa House, and Iowa Senate.

In Minnesota, those Gopher State residents identifying as conservative increased by 1.3 points in 2008 (to 27.8 percent) and by another 1.2 points to 29.0 percent in an aggregation of polling data through the first five months of 2009. This marks the largest percentage of Minnesotans viewing themselves as conservative since 2005.

In Iowa and Wisconsin, the conservative resurgence has been even more pronounced.

In the Hawkeye State, the percentage of those viewing themselves as politically conservative rose by 1.3 points in 2008 (to 29.8 percent) and by 3.0 points so far in 2009 (to 32.8 percent).

In Wisconsin, there was a 3.9-point increase in self-identified conservatives in 2008 (to 31.6 percent) and a 1.7-point increase thus far in 2009 (to 33.3 percent).

In all three states, conservatism is at its highest peak over the last four years.

A plurality of residents in each of the three Upper Midwestern states view themselves as politically moderate – averaging 45.3 percent in Minnesota, 42.4 percent in Iowa, and 41.1 percent in Wisconsin during this five-year span.

Still, conservatives outnumber liberals by a large margin in all three states. In 2009, there are 1.6 conservatives for every liberal in Minnesota, 2.0 conservatives for every liberal in Wisconsin, and 2.1 conservatives for every liberal in Iowa.

Whether or not Republicans will be able to tap into this resurgence of the conservative brand in 2010 remains to be seen – as they failed to do so at the onset of this surge in the 2008 elections.


Note: SurveyUSA polling data from Minnesota (60 polls), Iowa (49 polls), and Wisconsin (52 polls) compiled by Smart Politics.

Follow Smart Politics on Twitter.

Previous post: Wisconsin Unemployment Rate Rises for Record 7th Straight Month
Next post: Minnesota and Upper Midwest Being Spared the Worst of US Job Loss Crisis

5 Comments


  • To me the numbers indicate that conservatives are very much a minority of the population significantly less than 40%. To me this poll points to the mid-west progressive independent political values, opinions and attitudes. Certainly not a rise of conservatives.

  • Er, Bob? Did you catch that bit at the end about conservatives outnumberling liberals 3:2?

    What this speaks to is the need for conservatives to sell the conservative message on the things that matter to independents; growth and jobs, public safety, lower taxes, limited government. When we don't - or worse, when we act just like Democrats, as the national party has done for the past six years - then we lose.

  • Interesting, but not nearly a majority. The problem is the American people want MORE government (defense, medicare and social security). They just don't want to pay for it.

  • I doubt that conservatives are gain strength. Three states are a small number. It seems to me that the rise of conservatives won't happen soon.

  • I think you are mistaken about the conservative message. The only message I have heard coming from conservatives (and I mean where they walk the walk) is in social conservatism. That trumps economic conservatism every time. How long does it take for conservatives to talk about caring about jobs and the economy (or illegal aliens) and not do anything about it before people stop believing the false message? Independents aren't stupid. I suspect a lot of independents would be Republicans if they would just stop being controlled but the social/biblical conservatives. Really, a lot of Americans don't think it's an issue if gay people get married. After all, they aren't being forced to marry a gay person. Unfortunately, the Republican Party is going the way of the Southern Baptists when the old school conservatives are thrown and and it because a biblical party.

  • Leave a comment


    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.


    more POLITICAL CRUMBS

    Humphrey School Sites
    CSPG
    Humphrey New Media Hub

    Issues />

<div id=
    Abortion
    Afghanistan
    Budget and taxes
    Campaign finances
    Crime and punishment
    Economy and jobs
    Education
    Energy
    Environment
    Foreign affairs
    Gender
    Health
    Housing
    Ideology
    Immigration
    Iraq
    Media
    Military
    Partisanship
    Race and ethnicity
    Reapportionment
    Redistricting
    Religion
    Sexuality
    Sports
    Terrorism
    Third parties
    Transportation
    Voting