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 Have the Longest and Shortest Election Day Voting Hours?

    Residents in some North Dakota towns have less than half as many hours to cast their ballots as those in New York State.

    Political Crumbs

    Mary Burke: English First?

    While multiculturalism and bilingualism are increasingly en vogue in some quarters as the world seemingly becomes a smaller place, one very high profile 2014 Democratic candidate does not shy away from the fact that she only speaks one language: English. In an attempt to highlight her private sector credentials working for Trek Bicycle, Wisconsin Democratic gubernatorial nominee Mary Burke boasts on her campaign bio page how she made great strides in international business dealings...while only speaking English: "Despite not speaking a single foreign language, she established sales and distribution operations in seven countries over just three years." Note: According to 2010 Census data, nearly half a million Wisconsinites over five years old speak a language other than English at home, or 8.7 percent, while 4.6 percent of Badger State residents do not speak English at all.


    Does My Key Still Work?

    Much has been made about Charlie Crist's political transformation from Republican to independent to Democrat en route to winning the Florida GOP and Democratic gubernatorial nominations over a span of eight years. Party-switching aside, Crist is also vying to become just the second Florida governor to serve two interrupted terms. Democrat William Bloxham was the first - serving four year terms from 1881 to 1885 and then 1897 to 1901. Florida did not permit governors serving consecutive terms for most of its 123 years prior to changes made in its 1968 constitution. Since then four have done so: Democrats Reubin Askew, Bob Graham, and Lawton Chiles and Republican Jeb Bush.


    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