Minnewisowa looking competitive for Republicans in 2016

The term “Minnewisowa” as a political megastate made its first appearance during the presidential election of  2004.

It was the re-election year for President George W. Bush, and the race was going to be close.  Living in the prairie state of Minnesota, after growing up in Pennsylvania and attending graduate school in Iowa, I had become aware of how similar in many important ways the tangential states of Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Iowa were.  I often make up new words, so Minne-wis-owa was a natural.

With 26 electoral votes, Minnewisowa is a battleground powerhouse in a nation where an increasing number of states have become predictably and almost inevitably blue or red.  Recently, the three states had leaned blue, but by 2004, they appeared to be up for grabs.  Iowa, in fact, went for Bush in 2004, and Wisconsin was very close.  Later, in the Obama years, Minnewisowa returned to blue, but once again in 2016, these states appear competitive.

A recent Survey USA poll in Minnesota surprised most observers with its results that showed Democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton trailing most of the leading Republican presidential candidates.  Steven Schier at Carleton College, one of the most impartial and acute observers of Minnesota politics, wrote that the poll might be slightly overestimating  the GOP turnout, but even if that is true, Minnesota is unexpectedly competitive.  Most observers would agree that Iowa and Wisconsin are less blue on paper than Minnesota, and there are indications that each of these states could also be presidential battlegrounds.

Minnesota and Wisconsin particularly usually have heavier Democratic turnouts in presidential years, but Hillary Clinton does not seem, as elsewhere, to be generating very much enthusiasm so far.  Both Wisconsin, with its historically socialist enclaves (in Milwaukee and Madison), and Minnesota, with its traditional populist enclaves (Minneapolis, St. Paul, and the northeastern “Range”) show some significant support for Vermont’s Bernie Sanders.

In the end, barring the unforeseen, virtually all Democrats in these states will vote for Hillary Clinton if she is her party’s nominee.  Mr. Obama, for his part, generated exceptional turnout in the black and other minority communities, and among independent voters (about 25-30% of the total vote).  Ninety-five percent of an 80% turnout, it must be remembered, is not the same as 95% of a 60% turnout.  Unless Mrs. Clinton can change her public perception in the next ten months, she could lose all or part of Minnewisowa.  Just do the numbers.

Of course, the eventual Republican nominee is very important in this electoral equation.  A GOP ticket unacceptable to regular conservative voters could keep them home, or even make them hold their noses and vote for another ticket.  The current state of the GOP nomination contest reveals this possibility.

Iowa, as the first state to vote in the caucus/primary season, has already drawn considerable candidate visits and attention.  With Governor Scott Walker withdrawn as a presidential candidate, Wisconsin will increasingly draw candidates when they are in the Minnewisowa neighborhood.  Most candidates now already quietly come to Minnesota for fundraising.  The Gopher State has no statewide races in 2016, but it does have lots of liberal  and conservative millionaires who can and do contribute to campaign war chests.

In 2004, Minnewisowa was a battleground megastate.  In 2008 and 2012, it was much less so.  But in 2016, with the initial advantage to the Republicans because of Obama fatigue and the unusual lack of enthusiasm for Hillary Clinton, Minnewisowa could be decisive in an election now shaping up to be hard-fought, historic, and close.

The term “Minnewisowa” as a political megastate made its first appearance during the presidential election of  2004.

It was the re-election year for President George W. Bush, and the race was going to be close.  Living in the prairie state of Minnesota, after growing up in Pennsylvania and attending graduate school in Iowa, I had become aware of how similar in many important ways the tangential states of Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Iowa were.  I often make up new words, so Minne-wis-owa was a natural.

With 26 electoral votes, Minnewisowa is a battleground powerhouse in a nation where an increasing number of states have become predictably and almost inevitably blue or red.  Recently, the three states had leaned blue, but by 2004, they appeared to be up for grabs.  Iowa, in fact, went for Bush in 2004, and Wisconsin was very close.  Later, in the Obama years, Minnewisowa returned to blue, but once again in 2016, these states appear competitive.

A recent Survey USA poll in Minnesota surprised most observers with its results that showed Democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton trailing most of the leading Republican presidential candidates.  Steven Schier at Carleton College, one of the most impartial and acute observers of Minnesota politics, wrote that the poll might be slightly overestimating  the GOP turnout, but even if that is true, Minnesota is unexpectedly competitive.  Most observers would agree that Iowa and Wisconsin are less blue on paper than Minnesota, and there are indications that each of these states could also be presidential battlegrounds.

Minnesota and Wisconsin particularly usually have heavier Democratic turnouts in presidential years, but Hillary Clinton does not seem, as elsewhere, to be generating very much enthusiasm so far.  Both Wisconsin, with its historically socialist enclaves (in Milwaukee and Madison), and Minnesota, with its traditional populist enclaves (Minneapolis, St. Paul, and the northeastern “Range”) show some significant support for Vermont’s Bernie Sanders.

In the end, barring the unforeseen, virtually all Democrats in these states will vote for Hillary Clinton if she is her party’s nominee.  Mr. Obama, for his part, generated exceptional turnout in the black and other minority communities, and among independent voters (about 25-30% of the total vote).  Ninety-five percent of an 80% turnout, it must be remembered, is not the same as 95% of a 60% turnout.  Unless Mrs. Clinton can change her public perception in the next ten months, she could lose all or part of Minnewisowa.  Just do the numbers.

Of course, the eventual Republican nominee is very important in this electoral equation.  A GOP ticket unacceptable to regular conservative voters could keep them home, or even make them hold their noses and vote for another ticket.  The current state of the GOP nomination contest reveals this possibility.

Iowa, as the first state to vote in the caucus/primary season, has already drawn considerable candidate visits and attention.  With Governor Scott Walker withdrawn as a presidential candidate, Wisconsin will increasingly draw candidates when they are in the Minnewisowa neighborhood.  Most candidates now already quietly come to Minnesota for fundraising.  The Gopher State has no statewide races in 2016, but it does have lots of liberal  and conservative millionaires who can and do contribute to campaign war chests.

In 2004, Minnewisowa was a battleground megastate.  In 2008 and 2012, it was much less so.  But in 2016, with the initial advantage to the Republicans because of Obama fatigue and the unusual lack of enthusiasm for Hillary Clinton, Minnewisowa could be decisive in an election now shaping up to be hard-fought, historic, and close.