Why is the upper Midwest shifting Republican?

I have noticed that Wisconsin and Minnesota have become more red lately. In Wisconsin Russ Feingold lost his senate seat, and it looks like Herb Kohl’s seat may go Republican as well. Their is also Scott Walker in the governor’s chair. In Minnesota we have Michelle Bachman. Now, Nate Silver is saying that Minnesota may become a battleground state, and Wisconsin already is. What is going on up their? Could Minesotta really be a battleground? This is the state that Reagan never won, and that Dukakis beat Bush in 1988 as well. I’m worried about the trend to the Republican party in these two states. Can somebody reassure me this is just because of a bad economy, and that the folks in Minnesota and Wisconsin are not becoming more conservative?

The region is going Republican because it’s so White, so middle-income, and so modestly-educated. The GOP has done a very effective job convincing such folk that the Dems are really the party of overeducated multi-culti coastal elites, and that the Dems’ concern for the little guy really doesn’t include working people like you, but only The Other (fill in your favorite boogeymen here), who will supposedly be the recipients of billions more tax money because it makes the coastal elites feel all righteous and goody-goody.

Talk radio is powerful stuff. The Rwanda massacre was orchestrated through talk radio.

So long as we have, “absolute freedom of the press,” we allow the Sean Hannity types to get on the air and stoke the fires of racism and the like. And the GOP have managed to exploit that so far, while most of the country sleeps.

Oh yes…another way the GOP “Others” the Dems and their target constituency is to associate responsible, responsive government with those awful gay marriage and abortion creeps. Because everybody knows that nice normal people support giant corporations and banks over their neighbors who might be in trouble - that’s family values!

This argument, of course, fails the sniff test worse than Michele Bachmann’s panty hose after a 100° day at the State Fair. But as ( Godwin spoiler )* once pointed out, the bigger the lie, the more believable. Especially if you repeat it in a million ways, including assuming it but carefully not stating it as you put forth other arguments on other issues.

*Dr. Joseph Goebbels

One man’s stank is another man’s perfume. :smiley:

I’ll assume you’re talking about Michele Bachmann’s panty hose…

This. People have sold themselves out economically for social conservatism. Throw in a little racism, tell them the Dems are coming for their guns and you have the scared white man syndrome.

Check out the book What’s the Matter with Kansas? How Conservatives Won the Heart of America.


I can’t find any real evidence that either are going Republican in any meaningful way, but maybe my Google-Fu is weak today. I thought maybe, assuming the OP is right, that unemployment was the key, but both states seem to be below the national average (in fact, Minnesota is in the top 10 employment, with an unemployment rate below 6%…and Wisconsin is in the top 50% of states at 7%). I guess I’d need to see some evidence that both states are ‘shifting Republican’, because when I did a Google search, I was getting pages saying ‘why is Minnesota so liberal?’. :stuck_out_tongue:

Yeah, other than Walker in WI I’m not really seeing the huge shift.

The current RCP average for Minn is 10.5. In WI it’s 6.0.

In 2008 Obama won these states by 10 and 13 percent, respectively. So MN is about the same and WI is a bit worse for Obama. Of course, Obama nation-wide is something like +2% right now compared to +7% in 2008. So that explains some of the WI shift.

I guess my tentative answer would be that there hasn’t really been a big shift but that the Tea Party movement is stronger in WI due to Walker’s popularity with that contingent there.

If you want to see a state that is truly shifting Republican look to Missouri.

Purely speculation on my part - but I see a trend away from traditional Democratic voting among the blue collar set because of the decline of manufacturing jobs and the associated labor unions.

Years ago, traditional workers were more inclined to be in a union, and consequently more inclined to be influenced by and identify with the values and politics of the union.

Now those same workers are less likely to be in a union. So their personal politics are less likely to be influenced by union values. They are more able to accept messages from the other side. In the marketplace of ideas, they do not have a strong voice (the unions) telling them to reject these other messages.

I don’t think the industrial midwest is shifting that much, but I have an alternate theory:

The midwestern states were hit especially hard by the recession. Most had Democratic governors. They fired those governors and replaced them with Tea Party Republicans. Minnesota was an exception, and Illinois stayed Democrat(incidentally, Illinois is also worst off economically still) After an initial bout of extreme unpopularity, those governors’ policies have been somewhat vindicated. That improves the GOP brand in those states.

Maybe I’m too optimistic, but I’d like to think support for Romney is based on the rising popularity of Walker, Kasich, Snyder, and the existing respect voters already had for Tim pawlenty and Mitch Daniels. And the example of Democratic mismanagement in Illinois only confirms that Democratic policies aren’t really for the upper midwest.

You seem to be assuming Minnesotans have respect for Pawlenty. That’s rarely true.

Yeah, I wondered about this. Some of these shifts are related to current, and often local, issues. That doesn’t always lead to a significant change over time.

I think Republicans do better in state elections than the presidential races in those states. Neither WI nor MN will go for Romney.

I think the 2010 election was more about turnout than a shift among the electorate. The conservatives were motivated, while democrats (liberals, non-whites) were not.

If turnout in 2012 is more even, it shouldn’t be a problem.

PLUS, off-year elections (i.e. non Presidential election) always have lower turnout.

Plus it isn’t really true with Walker anymore. He defeated the recall mainly on the strength of non partisan voters who disliked him but didn’t think you should recall people for political reasons. If it would have been a straight-up reelection he probably would have lost it since he has shown his true colors to the people of the state.

And television isn’t a powerful medium? Or the Internet? And how would you suggest avoiding “absolute freedom of the press”?

It should be noted Bachmann is only one district in Minnesota-Minnesota’s actually the state that’s gone the longest without going Republican in a Presidential election.

In my area, the tell tale signs seem to be (a) low intellectual curiosity and (b) refusal to view anything other than FoxNews. They are highly resistant to any facts that contradict their point of view and suspicious of anyone who might promote such facts as… well actual facts.

I had a conversation with one person who only watches FoxNews once:

Me: “Don’t you at least watch the Sunday shows on the other channels just to see what they’re saying?”
FX-Devotee: “Oh, no!”
Me: “Why not? Don’t you want to know what the opposition is saying?”
FX-Devotee: “Oh, no, I can’t stand the other channels, they’re all pro-Obama.”

Of course FX-Devotee limits herself to only other people of similar ilk who also take great measures to protect themselves from any information not vetted by the Fair and Balanced FoxNews. These people all view Glenn Beck as an intellectual giant and sometimes bemoan that they can’t afford to go to his “university” (? - I don’t know, they think he runs some school that would make the uber-smart)

I think “Beck University” is $10/month now. Yeah. Some kind of online indoctrination for those who pay to be in Beck’s club or something. Yay.