Minnesota goes purple

Katherine Kersten, recently added as a conservative columnist to the leftist Star—Tribune newspaper, points to a recent poll showing a very slight GOP majority among Minnesotans who express a political affiliation. Speaking as a born and bred Minnesotan now in exile, I think I understand this transformation:

One thing is certain: It's not your granddad's Minnesota anymore.

Minnesota, once thought of as a solid Blue State, is now a Purple State: politically up for grabs. What's going on?

Demographic changes may be part of the explanation.

Larry Jacobs, director of the Center for Politics and Government at the Humphrey Institute, says two factors might play a role. The first is generational replacement. "The folks who grew up during the New Deal are passing into history," says Jacobs. "In their era, government was expected to play a big role. The generation that's replacing them is influenced by very different experiences, from Watergate to Ronald Reagan. We're still a state with a baseline of support for a robust government role. But economic liberalism may be fading somewhat, with social conservatism replacing it."

The second factor is in—migration. "A new set of people are moving to Minnesota," says Jacobs. "They are settling in suburbs and exurbs like Lakeville —— the fastest—growing parts of the state. They tend not to look to government as much. You might call them the Tim Pawlenty coalition."

Annette Meeks, my former colleague at Center of the American Experiment and a longtime Republican activist, says she often meets these newcomers at party events. "When I speak to Republican groups, I'm always amazed at the number of people who, like me, have come from other states, where —— for example —— taxes are much lower. They say, 'It doesn't have to be like this.' "

Kersten goes on to note that GOP support has not fallen off despite recent conflict and doldrums much bandied about in the commentariat. And she also adds that only 54% of voters express any party affiliation, meaning the great center is vital to victory.

My own sense of my native state is that people there are quite pragmatic. Living with life—threatening winters forces a certain worldview grounded in an appreciation of genuine dangers. As liberalism has proven unworkable, the practical people of Minnesota have moved on, slowly but streadily.

Minnesota was once a leading Democrat stronghold, producing politicans of national stature. It is already well on the way to duplicating this feat for the Republicans. It is also home to an outsize share of the most perceptive and eloquent bloggers on the right. I look for good things to continue to come from the Land of 10,000 Lakes.

Hat tip: Ethel Fenig

Thomas Lifson   5 23 06

Katherine Kersten, recently added as a conservative columnist to the leftist Star—Tribune newspaper, points to a recent poll showing a very slight GOP majority among Minnesotans who express a political affiliation. Speaking as a born and bred Minnesotan now in exile, I think I understand this transformation:

One thing is certain: It's not your granddad's Minnesota anymore.

Minnesota, once thought of as a solid Blue State, is now a Purple State: politically up for grabs. What's going on?

Demographic changes may be part of the explanation.

Larry Jacobs, director of the Center for Politics and Government at the Humphrey Institute, says two factors might play a role. The first is generational replacement. "The folks who grew up during the New Deal are passing into history," says Jacobs. "In their era, government was expected to play a big role. The generation that's replacing them is influenced by very different experiences, from Watergate to Ronald Reagan. We're still a state with a baseline of support for a robust government role. But economic liberalism may be fading somewhat, with social conservatism replacing it."

The second factor is in—migration. "A new set of people are moving to Minnesota," says Jacobs. "They are settling in suburbs and exurbs like Lakeville —— the fastest—growing parts of the state. They tend not to look to government as much. You might call them the Tim Pawlenty coalition."

Annette Meeks, my former colleague at Center of the American Experiment and a longtime Republican activist, says she often meets these newcomers at party events. "When I speak to Republican groups, I'm always amazed at the number of people who, like me, have come from other states, where —— for example —— taxes are much lower. They say, 'It doesn't have to be like this.' "

Kersten goes on to note that GOP support has not fallen off despite recent conflict and doldrums much bandied about in the commentariat. And she also adds that only 54% of voters express any party affiliation, meaning the great center is vital to victory.

My own sense of my native state is that people there are quite pragmatic. Living with life—threatening winters forces a certain worldview grounded in an appreciation of genuine dangers. As liberalism has proven unworkable, the practical people of Minnesota have moved on, slowly but streadily.

Minnesota was once a leading Democrat stronghold, producing politicans of national stature. It is already well on the way to duplicating this feat for the Republicans. It is also home to an outsize share of the most perceptive and eloquent bloggers on the right. I look for good things to continue to come from the Land of 10,000 Lakes.

Hat tip: Ethel Fenig

Thomas Lifson   5 23 06