Home / General / What’s the Matter with Minnesota?

What’s the Matter with Minnesota?


Minnesota welcomes you sign at the state border

One of the most distressing things about modern politics is the Upper Midwest going hard right. The only states Clinton carried in the region were Minnesota and Illinois and she did poorly in the former, which was not too long ago one of the most liberal states in the U.S. But the home of Walter Mondale and Paul Wellstone is moving right very fast with a state legislature now controlled by Republicans in both houses. We are seeing the results in policy, such as the energy bill under consideration there.

Clean energy and environmental advocates are concerned that several provisions in a Minnesota Jobs and Energy Omnibus bill would remove regulatory oversight of programs, shift power from experts to legislators and potentially kills jobs in a growing sector.

The legislature is still debating the omnibus bill as the official adjournment of the session approaches on May 22. A floor vote is expected as early as today.

“It’s been an incredibly disappointing session, with anti-environment proposals and rollbacks and anti-clean energy efforts on all fronts,” said Margaret Levin, state director of the North Star chapter of the Sierra Club. “We’ve been certainly challenged to make sure citizen input is protected and basic standards for water, air and public health are left intact.”

Many provisions in the omnibus bill would “undermine strides in growing the clean economy and in combating climate change,” she added.

Attacks on science and the administrative policies that oversee air, water, health and climate — and taking decisions out of the hands of agency scientists and putting them into the “political arena” — “mirrors” what is happening at the federal level under the Trump Administration, Levin said.

In an email, Hamline University political science professor David Schultz says the legislature is attempting to “take away rule making authority” from the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency and making the process so cumbersome that “nothing can be done.”

The legislature’s “entire approach also runs against established judicial doctrine and opens the state up to significant litigation,” Schultz added.

The answers as to what’s wrong with Minnesota is the same as most places–resentment, racism, the decline of industrial work in some traditionally Democratic parts of the state such as the Iron Range. But if we have to fight for decency in Minnesota, not to mention fighting for the decent policies that state has long enacted, instead of fighting in other states that aren’t traditionally so friendly to liberals, we have an even longer fight than we think to get this nation back.

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  • rea

    It sometimes seems like these people are trying to destroy the planet, just for spite.

    • Some of it is ideology. Some of it is not thinking it will apply to them. Some of it is just plain old fashioned stupidity.

      • royko

        And some of it is obsession with pissing off liberals, no matter how ill-advised and self-defeating. Although I suppose that’s covered under “ideology”.

    • ZakMcKrackenAndTheAlienMindbenders

      yes i think that is accurate.

      i think mediocre white people (mostly dudes but also the ladies) are realizing that the value of their privilege has eroded. they’ve already lost and now their only real aim is to fuck shit up so badly nobody else has anything left either. it is like a family about to be evicted from the mcmansion they were never going to be able to keep up the mortgage(s) on ripping out the wiring and smearing poop on the walls and generally trying to make it uninhabitable while they still have possession of it.

      • Origami Isopod

        I think some of it’s the “end times” delusion, but otherwise I think you’re right on the money.

    • My friend David has taken to calling us the United States of Spite, and I think it fits only too well these days.

    • science_goy

      And when their lakes are all covered in oily brown suds, they’ll DEMAND the Feds come clean it all up.

      • Kurzleg

        There was an article recently in the Mpls paper about how salting for roadway snow/ice would make local lakes uninhabitable for fish within something like 40 years. It’s within that context that the GOP legislature is writing their bills. Thankfully, Dayton will veto most/all of them. (Weird thing is that the GOP legislature majority is, as you might expect, exurb/rural in nature. And the loss of fish habitat would seem to be something that should concern that demographic. Alas…)

        The diagnoses I’ve seen about how we got here isn’t quite right. Unfortunately, we’ve lost the PR battle when it comes to root causes of economic problems. When people lose the economic privilege they’ve had or their parents had, the idea that it’s environmental regulations that have snatched it from them is quite compelling. It isn’t true, but politically, it’s low-hanging fruit. The work ahead to flip that understanding is decades in the making, unfortunately. At the margins, it’s probably possible to get some pushback, but we’ll be fighting an uphill battle for a good long time on this front.

        • jim, some guy in iowa

          yeah, I think you’re on to something. I know from reading the farm papers Dayton’s idea of buffer strips along the streams is making farmers nuts and I think it’s already been scaled back. Here, the Farm Bureau, Pork Producers, etc have been very aggressive in complaining about large feedlots, etc, being over regulated. A lot of the stuff done to clean up diesel exhaust is just generally a pain in the ass- this is fact, far as I’m concerned- and is believed by many mechanics, farmers and heavy equipment operators to have led to expensive problems. I just yesterday listened to the mechanic who’s working on a tractor for me gripe about how when they replace a bad engine with a new factory-built one the EPA makes him destroy what certainly seems to be a rebuildable engine block for reasons. I thought about asking whether he was sure that was coming from the EPA or if it came from the manufacturer but wasn’t in the mood. It’s kinda like the gun thing, really, in that the environmental stuff is taken to be a frontal attack on their personal liberty. It’s frustrating because a lot of them finally gave up trying to deny our climate is changing but they still refuse to accept any responsibility

          • BiloSagdiyev

            I just yesterday listened to the mechanic who’s working on a tractor for me gripe about how when they replace a bad engine with a new factory-built one the EPA makes him destroy what certainly seems to be a rebuildable engine block for reasons.

            Huzzah! My google fu confirmed this in one shot:


            Note that he wasn’t griping about all of the sweet federal mamoo that’s being shelled out by Uncle Sugar giving people free stuff to upgrade these diesel powerplants.

            What makes me over-the-top ballistic anymore is that these people just bitch about these things as if we just like forcing arbritary and capricious rules down their throats for our own personal jollies. They are incapable of grasping the concept that there are problems and we’re trying to solve them or at least ameliorate them. Of course, if these people can’t even see that guns are a problem, waddaygonnado?

            People who don’t live in the world of science, and just bleat out ignorant nostrums like, “Well, we all used the old mechanically injected diesel engines in the old days, I don’t remember seeing any air pollution around here!”, well, like so many issues, I don’t know what to say. Once you get your head out of your ass about the concepts of science and expertise, you are free to join the debate. Yep, I am becoming an elitist.

            Imagine if we allowed the sale of leaded gasoline , and left it up to private citizens to be informed and make decisions that were good not just for themselves, but for society. These folks would line up to buy it. Yep, I’m an elitist on some things.

            Now, from the perspective of people who can rebuild an engine, it does kinda break one’s heart to see an engine block destroyed. To these folks, it’s a potential engine (life begins at the time of pouring in a foundry!) and to the pointy-headed elitists in the big city, it’s mere scrap metal, and it’s part of a problem, so remove it from the world.

            Also, something to do with sulfur in the fuel? I’m hazy on that one. Different engine block metallurgy?

            • Bufflars

              Yeah, a lot of the recent federal engine rules for both stationary and mobile emissions sources basically require new engines, or that the old engines meet the emissions standards of new ones if rebuilt (very hard to achieve. This is to slowly ratchet up efficiencies and emissions standards as old engines leave the active inventory. But this can be a financial burden for marginal people / businesses that rely on used or rebuilt engines for their equipment.

  • Downpuppy

    Unlimited right wing money, crap media, and the way suburban living kills people’s connection to politics and governance are bloody hard to fight.

  • What would you expect from the people/culture/ethos/whatever who gave us the word “Quisling”?

    • Pseudonym

      To shun Nazi collaborators?

      • One would expect that.

        Probably should have typed it thusly: What would you expect from the people/culture/ethos/whatever that gave us Quisling?

    • William Berry

      There are many people of Swedish descent in Minnesota.

      Quisling was Norwegian.

      I must be missing something;l; but what, exactly?

      • Wikipedia says that the population of Minnesota is 16.8% of Norwegian descent and 9.5% of Swedish descent. That would appear to be something you were missing.

        • William Berry


          So Scandinavian culture/ language/ whatever gave us the word “Quisling”.

          Wow. man, that is deep.

          Guess I wasn’t missing much, then.

          And yeah, I get your point about the Norwegian/ Swedish bit. But, really?

        • William Berry

          Well, sorry for being so rude. MB made a throw-away comment, rather like half or more of my own.

  • Much to my sorrow, Minnesota has become more purple, and there are far too many wingnuts in our exurbs and rural areas. But there are a couple of points to note that should calm some fears:

    -Regarding this particular bill, Governor Dayton will almost certainly veto it.

    -I think there was a strong “Comey effect” in Minnesota in 2016. AFAIK, most of the polls gave Clinton a 6-10 point advantage (the only poll I could find post-Comey’s letter had Trump +3). Clinton ended up winning by 1.5. Far too close for comfort, but if the letter hadn’t come out, she might have won more comfortably, and our senate might have stayed in the hands of the DFL.

    -We had 20 years of Republican/Reform Party control of the Governor’s office. So after 6 years of Democrats in the Governor’s mansion, some backlash against Democrats is to be expected.

    I think 2018 will show where our state is heading. We are working hard to make it blue!

    • nemdam

      Yeah, I don’t get the panic. It’s not like Minnesota is New York or Massachusetts. It’s always been a lean blue, not solid blue, state, and that doesn’t mean Republicans don’t get elected to offices. Before Dayton, Republicans held the Governor’s mansion for 8 years, and Al Franken only won his race in the insanely favorably environment of 2008 by a few hundred votes. And don’t forget in 2014 when Democrats were getting killed everywhere, Dayton and Franken were both easily reelected. No reason for complacency, but I expect a big leftward shift in 2018 for MN.

      • Kurzleg

        Well, I’m concerned about the braindead legislation that the GOP legislature is offering. We have a budget surplus? Give it all back! FFS, does conservative mean anything related to the definition of the word any more?

        • Steve LaBonne

          It never did. Not in this country.

          • so-in-so

            Sure it did. Its about maintaining status quo – like subjugating brown people and despoiling the environment.

  • efgoldman

    Yes, what’s happening in Minnesota (whence cometh Walter Mondale and Hubert Humphrey, among so many others) is sad and scary. But remember much of this pig shit came first to Wisconsin, where the modern progressive movement was pretty much founded… by Republiklowns

  • joejoejoe

    A well run humble government is a good incubator for loud anti-government politics. Democrats need to learn how to unapologeticallly take credit for good stuff and affix blame for the sh!t or they will continue to get rolled by cost shifting blowhards who are backed by oil money and hate.

    • BiloSagdiyev

      Democrats need to learn how to unapologeticallly take credit for good stuff

      Oh dear. Scandinavian-American Democrats? We may have a problem here…

    • Colin Day

      How well does Minnesota do vicious?

      • joejoejoe

        Are you including out-state Republicans calling Keith Ellison a goat humper? Labeling second generation Somali-Americans as disease ridden terrorists? The 47.4% of the electorate that voted to ban gay marriage? Minnesota does vicious plenty well.

  • Linnaeus

    Speaking as one who grew up in the region, the political right turn bothers me. Not just because I’m a leftist, but also because it’s at odds with the region’s genuine progressive political tradition – Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan, and even Ohio may not be California or Massachusetts, but they’re not Kansas or South Carolina either. As you point out, the toxic brew of racial resentment and the decline of industrial work have created opportunities that the right has been able to take advantage of. Liberal institutions have weakened and big right-wing money has poured in to hasten that process along. Make no mistake, the right has been at work in the Upper Midwest (as it has been elsewhere in the US) for years. They’ve been steadily chipping away at decent policy and now they’re really going for it while they can.

    Can this be turned around? I think so, but it’s going to take the same kind of work and patience that the right had 30 years ago.

    • efgoldman

      Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan, and even Ohio may not be California or Massachusetts, but they’re not Kansas or South Carolina either.

      California wasn’t California either, until Pete Wilson and the RWNJs pushed that idiotic anti-immigrant proposition 187. It might have been moving leftward, but it would have been a much slower process.

      • Linnaeus

        Very true. People often forget how strong right wing politics were in California during the 20th century.

      • Well, with the critical caveat that millions of non-whites were moving to the state, which is not exactly the case in the Upper Midwest, small pockets of Hmong and Somalis notwithstanding.

        • cgordon

          How about aging? I don’t imagine Minnesota is getting any younger.

          • nemdam

            Twin Cities is pretty young for the Midwest. A lot of college graduates from around the Midwest go there, and a lot of the college graduates from Minnesota stay. It’s like Atlanta in that it attracts young people from around the region.

      • mongolia

        that’s only a minor part of the reason california moved way to the left. the main reason is the huge non-white population in the state coinciding with the talk-radio-ification of the republican party making it too racist for non-whites to join the r’s

  • aturner339

    I think it’s worth considering a targeted employment guarantee in depressed areas perhaps on the model John Conyers introduced back in 2013. It’s a big and simple to understand program that helps to neutralize the fake populism of the Trumpists.

    That said part of the bargain has to be the different factions of the Dem party accepting that the culture wars are not over. Immigration is essentially a culture fight and its a primary reason the WWC is softening.

  • Jake the antisoshul soshulist

    You keep forgetting that the market will solve everything. If we need clean air and water, the market will give it to us. If the market doesn’t give it to us, we don’t deserve it or even need it.

  • Davis X. Machina

    But the home of Walter Mondale and Paul Wellstone is moving right very fast with a state legislature now controlled by Republicans in both houses.

    Woe unto those proposing and delivering mere half-measures! Having come close, but only close, to achieving socialism-in-one-state, the People now are expressing their repugnance for those who failed to deliver on their promises, offering the chimera of fusionism.

    The People’s retribution is swift and merciless. Sometimes it’s named “Jesse”. Sometimes it’s named “Norm” — but it is always ineluctable.

  • nemdam

    Economic anxiety explains exactly zero with the rightward shift of Minnesota. Minnesota has a diverse economy, an educated population, a low cost of living relative to its earnings, and has been at basically full employment for years. And as an agricultural state, it benefits from global trade. If Minnesota is experiencing economic anxiety then either the country has been economically anxious everywhere since its founding or the term ceases to have any meaning. Yes, the Iron Range has experienced some decline, but the rest of the state has easily picked up the slack, and the rightward shift has occurred throughout the whole state (except Minneapolis and St. Paul) not just this region. And FWIW the region still voted Democratic across the board this election.

    • The Iron Range is pretty screwed by deindustrialization and those counties, traditionally very Democratic, swung hard to Trump in 2016. When I talk about these issues, I am often talking about specific parts of states, not the entire white electorate. Why the resistance by many liberals to economic problems and deindustrialization as being a major part of the problems for some voters concentrated in specific places is something that I do understand I guess because don’t like complex arguments but it drives me crazy.

      • nemdam

        Yes, if it’s applied to a limited context as outlined above, it is a valid explanation.

        But in a state that casts over 2.5 million votes for an election, a region that casts a little over 100,000 votes is hardly enough to have a serious effect on its rightward shift. It’s the exurbs and other rural areas that shifted right like elsewhere in the country. And the Iron Range being a rural area populated by the WWC, cultural resentments still play a factor in its rightward shift in addition to its decline of industrial work.

        I don’t see how economic factors could play anything larger than a very small role in Minnesota moving to the right.

        And please note this has nothing to do with advocating Democrats not work on doing better with jobs and the economy. They can and should do better for its own sake. I’m merely saying this largely won’t matter politically in the short term.

        • efgoldman

          a region that casts a little over 100,000 votes is hardly enough to have a serious effect on its rightward shift

          Erie, PA??

          • nemdam

            If that was the only county in PA that flipped, I would agree with you. But it was a lot more that flipped PA.

        • mds

          I don’t see how economic factors could play anything larger than a very small role in Minnesota moving to the right.

          Quite so. As already noted, low unemployment. A budget surplus even after investments in infrastructure and education. A mixed economy not heavily dependent on non-renewable resource extraction. The differences between Minnesota and its neighbor Wisconsin are stark. Which gets back to Democratic messaging, because look at the thanks they’ve gotten for their efforts.

          On the other hand, even though the Iron Range re-elected US Rep Rick Nolan by a whisker, and nominal Democrat Peterson won yet again in the north and west, I count something like three northern state senate seats that flipped D to R. Hold on to even a couple of those, and the senate is still D. On the gripping hand, the same could be said about other seats, several of which are suburban / exurban Twin Cities, where the anxiety tends to be of a less, uh, economic nature.

          • Longtime IBS Sufferer

            It would be interesting to know what part Koch money (using that as a metonym for the entire RW dark-money network) played in flipping those seats.

        • Sebastian_h

          This kind of talk is baffling to me, especially from Democrats who allegedly understand empathy.

          You don’t have to be employed in the deindustrialized county to see what happened there and worry about it.

          You don’t have to be unemployed for your father to be unemployed.

          You don’t have to be unemployed for your mother to be underemployed.

          You don’t have to be unemployed for you to personally be underemployed.

          You don’t have to be unemployed to realize that your job isn’t as safe as jobs were in the 80s.

          You don’t have to be racist to think that Democrats haven’t been doing much about all of the above.

          • mds

            You don’t have to be racist to think that Democrats haven’t been doing much about all of the above.

            No, but given that it was state legislature Democrats who actually suffered for it in 2014 and 2016, you have to be fairly ignorant of the relative strengths of the two state parties in doing anything about the above. I mean, when people tout the low unemployment rate in North Dakota, state-level Republicans never get your list used against them. But let it be Minnesota’s low unemployment rate with a more diversified economy, and somehow Democrats must be punished for not completely fixing decades-long trends in two years of unified government.

            • Sebastian_h

              I could be wrong, but my impression is that politics has become more tribal in the sense of failing to make distinctions between national and lower level party members than we used to.

    • AMK

      People don’t consult statistics before deciding to feel economically anxious. In an increasingly stratified economy where everyone sees everyone else’s vacations on facebook and college costs go up 10% a year, even relatively well-off people feel like they’re treading water or falling behind. This is obviously not just Minnesota, but everywhere. I would even make the anecdotal case that this kind of economic anxiety is worse among upper middle-class suburbanites with something to lose than third-generation ex-manufacturing workers who’ve got nothing but racism.

  • BiloSagdiyev

    I blame Gore Vidal and his America-hating novels. Well, at least we know we can blame him for Michelle Bachmann’s conversion to goofiness. (Well that, a strong father househould, I’m assuming, maybe some lead paint chips, probably some kind of authoritarian religious mileuuuu, and of course, Chappaquiddick,)

  • randomworker

    30 years in MN – moved to WA 2 years ago.

    DFL stands for Democrat Farm Labor. Farm is now cuckoo for right wing kooks. And we know what’s happened to Labor.

    Couple disjointed points:

    1. The Twin Cities metro area is the golden goose, the engine of growth for the whole state…and beyond. “Outstate” used to provide some votes from both Farm and Labor. Not so much anymore. Similar to what’s happened nationally. People are resentful even as they are dependent.

    2. Nationalization and indeed internationalization of issues. All the suburban men at work have Drudge constantly refreshing on their desktops. Black riots! No-go zones! Feminazis shut down speech! Hillary to confiscate guns! Memes carefully curated by collecting unrelated stories from all over the world and displaying them day after day, week after week.

    3. You can’t take a family of 4 to a Vikings game. Twins or Timberwolves will set you back $200 bucks. You can’t afford to live in the best school districts. Buying a home means bidding against people from India, China, California. The alternative is to move further out.

    4. At the airport it appears to the average person they were suddenly transported to Singapore or Dubai. Language, dress, culture, race. Downtown. Mall of America. Ikea might be in Amsterdam or Paris.

    • Origami Isopod

      At the airport it appears to the average insular white person they were suddenly transported to Singapore or Dubai. Language, dress, culture, race. Downtown. Mall of America. Ikea might be in Amsterdam or Paris.

      Fixed. Also, are we supposed to feel sorry for them? Abloo, they’re seeing people unlike themselves in Minnesota. Too bad, so sad. And I strongly suspect the numbers of skeery brown peepl are much lower at the airport than this implies.

      • randomworker

        Just random thoughts from my 30 years there.

        All over the country the areas outside of the large cities are voting not 55% R, but 60, 70% R. This is a conundrum. Or you got it figured out?

        • Origami Isopod

          IOW, you want the Democrats to cater to racists. Nonstarter.

      • And I strongly suspect the numbers of skeery brown peepl are much lower at the airport than this implies.

        Well, when I was at the Minneapolis airport a few years ago, one of the (perhaps Somali, definitely brown) porters was a dead ringer for Paul Kagame. Depending on one’s stance towards such Rwandan issues as genocide and Rick Warren, he might be more or less skeery.

        • Keaaukane

          You gotta be careful about your stance at the MPLS airport, as Larry Craig found out.

        • Dennis Orphen

          Totally stealing the jist of that for one of my elevator pitches. Working title: Ringer

        • Justin Runia

          The amount of Somalis working at MSP is A Thing. I suspect some of the rightward turn is due to the fact that hiring cheap refugee labor has probably hit the point of diminishing returns. Same goes for Ag labor in the southern parts of MN; it was one thing when the labor was itinerant, but once those Mexicans started actually wanting to put down roots, it became intolerable.

          random disjointed observations:
          – The P-9 strike failure and subsequent moves by the meatpacking industry to shell companies like QPP have made labor a shadow of its former self. My father-in-law, who went to jail in that strike, blames the UFCW at least as much as he does Hormel, and remains brand-loyal in his annual summer sausage care packages.
          – I think Chicago has a greater gravity than the Twin Cities (but really, Minneapolis) in terms of attracting the liberal-arts educated daughters and sons of Minnesota. There have been periods where the relatively-cheaper cost of living in Minneapolis made it a competitive option, but Chicago generally has better “urban” cred for kids who want to escape their provincial origins.
          – Farm industrialization and consolidation continues apace. Not all of this is necessarily because of Capital though; of my 8 paternal uncles and aunts, only one of them decided to make a career of farming. Thanks to mechanical and chemical advances (not to mention the further advance of migrant labor into rural Minnesota), they didn’t face the necessity of creating their own unpaid labor force, and have subsequently only had two kids.
          – Things like environmental externality are a hard sell when you don’t live in a very dense environment; if someone dumps crap in your creek, the blame is assignable to one person, whereas you can generally avoid the effects of high concentrations of tailpipe emissions, until it’s late in the game. My farming uncle was proud of the fact that he took the diesel particulate filter out of his truck, showing it to me like a trophy (I presume he’s keeping it around for when it’s time to trade in the vehicle.)

      • Pugachev

        It’s not about feeling sorry for them, it’s about not living in some fantasy land where Dems “start talking about the middle class again” and we magically start winning elections.

        • Origami Isopod

          All I’m getting from that comment is randomworker wants Democrats to cater to white racists and xenophobes. A party that does that to win is not a party I will support.

      • William Berry

        It’s been observed here before that a dead give-away of the right-wing troll is that they can’t bring themselves to say “Democratic”. The “Democrat Farm Labor” party is actually the “DemocratIC Farmer Labor Party” (my emphasis).

        The airport bit reminds me of my days as a USW officer at Noranda Aluminum in SE MO. Once, when I was making a tour of the break-rooms, a fellow said that Cape Girardeau was over-run by n******s. I noted that there were actually around two thousand people of AA descent in Cape, which is a city of fifty thousand. Simillarly for all the other towns in the region that were “over-run”.

        The response? Something like: “Those are just numbers! It sure seems like they’re everywhere!”

        • randomworker

          Oh my gosh.

    • Colin Day

      People are resentful even as because they are dependent.


    • Dilan Esper

      On 3, I think the revenue models of big time sports teams (and the players salaries the model supports) are unsustainable long term. There’s going to be a crash as regional sports networks can no longer pay top dollar and a whole generation of people grow up having never been to a live game.

  • All my great-grandparents emigrated from Norway and Sweden to Minnesota. I was born there and lived in small town MN until I was 50. My family has a couple of generations of active involvement in the DFL (my mother ran it for a while) and I was president of the Young DFL myself when in high school. All that being said I don’t know what’s going on. Something like 90% plus of the population now lives in the 7 county metro area of the Twin Cities, and a lot of those suburbs have become quite right wing. Why? Probably the same thing that’s happening elsewhere — tons of GOP money, Fox news, plus maybe racism toward the rapidly growing Somali population. The economy of the state is pretty solid, I think, so that distressed white working class dodge is nonsense. ACA repeal would clobber many rural hospitals, something nobody seems to know.

    At least the 2 MN senators are Franken and Klobuchar and Mark Dayton is the governor.

  • Lot_49

    Did Minnesota get the “Ratf*cked” gerrymander treatment like so many other states?

    • nemdam

      Nope, voting in the state is on the level. Consistently has one of the highest voting turnouts in the country and no gerrymandering. Easy to register, lots of early voting, no excuse absentee ballot, etc.

      If 2018 goes well, Minnesota could have 7 D Reps vs 1 R Rep, 2 D Senators, a D Governor, and a D State Senate. I’m just not informed enough to make a call on the State House though.

      I should note the 1 R Rep district is Michelle Bachmann’s old district.

  • ZakMcKrackenAndTheAlienMindbenders

    illinois ONLY skews left in presidential elections because of chicago. there are probably very few other states in which the rural/urban divide is as pronounced.

    • Murc

      illinois ONLY skews left in presidential elections because of chicago.

      Three-quarters of all the people in Illinois live in the Chicago metro area. So… how is this different from saying “illinois only skews left in presidential elections because it has a lot of left-leaning voters in it.”

  • Downpuppy

    Gopher Prairie is eternal, even, nay especially, when buried under a parking lot

  • Hondo

    It seems as though the right-wing has been applying increasing pressure on all fronts for a couple of decades, and now the dam has finally been overtopped. The crazy and ignorant are racing down the spillway and will destroy everything in their path.
    Reminds me of the Korean zombie movie I just watched.
    Anyway, my perspective from the lower Midwest as a 20 year transplant from Jersey, is that this situation is largely due to Fox “News” and similar sources. The effect that this shit has on otherwise reasonable people is what scares me. I don’t think it should be underestimated. So many people lap this shit up as fast as they can. Never get enough, and never pass up a chance to throw it in your face if they sense you’re not on their side.
    I hear this all the time as I sit with groups of friends and colleagues in various settings. They repeat the same misinformation straight out of Limbaugh’s mouth.
    Economic distress and insecurity, fear of immigrants, fear of terrorism are all part of the poison that they are fed every day from Fox and the internet.
    The right-wing has become a cancer not dissimilar to what existed in the 1850s with the proslavery factions.
    That’s my simplistic view of the situation. It’s not nearly as sophisticated and informed as many other regular commenters here, but it’s all I got.

  • XerMom

    One of the big changes in MN over the last century is that the Finns are now White (seriously, people used to view many Finns as Asians, which was a real issue back in the days of Asian Exclusion Acts and whatnot). That’s one of the reasons that the Iron Range was so consistently progressive for decades and decades. The immigrant population up there contained a lot of slavs and absolutely radical Finns. It was full of communists toiling underground.

    Now that the Finns aren’t discriminated against, they are free to become Confederate flag-waving, White identity voters (i.e. like White people in St. Cloud). The region is still more likely to vote for Democrats than other rust belt areas, but that is shifting as the older generations die and young people with less connection to the early immigrant populations take over.

    There’s a lot of Minnesota that is broken-down trailer and three-legged dog territory. Most people don’t notice it because the Twin Cities are about half the population of the state, and take up so much of the news coverage, but drive north of Minneapolis for an hour and you’ll start to find it. It’s not just the loss of mining on the Range that has left communities struggling. There are a lot of places that haven’t figured out how to make money now that the trees are cut down and the farms don’t need many people to work them. To top it off, places on the North Shore that thrive on tourism bring in foreign workers every summer. By now there are probably thousands of Brazilians who can tell Ole and Lena jokes.

    • Dennis Orphen

      Just to be a smartass, I was going to comment above, regarding the percentages of Norwegians and Swedes, that they are united against the Finns, but I didn’t think anyone would know what I was babbling about.

      • joejoejoe

        Uff da is Norwegian, Ole and Lena jokes are Swedish, and St. Urho drove a plague of frogs out of Finland. I don’t know much about the Danes but they serve a nice brunch at the Danish American Center.

        • Dennis Orphen

          The Swedes have Minnesota, the Norwegians have Wisconsin (ceding Racine to the Danes, Kenosha to the Italians, and south Milwaukee to the Polish), the Dutch get Michigan, the FIBs Illinois. Everybody loves cruellers and if you can eat one in the morning you’re not really hungover. But if you’re eating anything at a George Webb you probably are. When you see the Magikist Lips you’re either almost to where you’re going, or almost home. The Nelson Brothers love me (and they’ll love you too). Krusty the clown is really Bob Bell, and Homer Simpson is really Blob.

          • Justin Runia

            I have to represent for the rural Danes of southern MN, where they were eating Aebleskivver before it was cool.

  • Dennis Orphen

    As far as changing demographics in the region, I run into fellow liberal/leftist upper Midwest Scandinavians all the time here in California. This has been happening for a long time, I call this the Charles Schulz Effect. And where the Godfather goes, the lieutenants and rank and file soldiers will follow. The conservatives never leave, unless they join the military.

  • William Berry

    The weirdest thing about Minnesota:

    A few years back I was driving up I-35 from KC to MN to attend a USW district conference in Minneapolis. Just a few miles after I passed the sign (like the one shown in the OP), I encountered a shower of insects so dense that my windshield was completely covered; all within in a few seconds. I had, like, zero visibility. I had had to pull over and use half a pack of wet wipes to correct the situation.

    Some miles up the road I passed a gigantic CABELA’s, and some miles after that (hell, maybe before, I don”t know) I passed the Harley-Davidson headquarters.

    Only in America!

    Like I said, it was weird.

    • mds

      Like I said, it was weird.

      If I were driving up I-35 in Minnesota, and I passed the Harley-Davidson headquarters in Milwaukee, I’d think it was weird, too. :-P

      • William Berry

        Well, it was. a large plant or some other type of facility. I thought I remembered it being the HQ

        I was wrong. Not for the first time. But thx for caring enough to set me straight.

        • mds

          Eh, it happens. I nitpick because I love.

          (I wondered if you might have been remembering H-D’s big Kansas City plant, because as someone who’s originally from Iowa, I know how everything starts to blur together on the interstates. Doesn’t really matter, though, unless it had something to do with the mysterious plague of bugs. *CUE SPOOKY MUSIC*)

  • hickes01

    Minnesota is the whole country in a nutshell. The GOP has done a very good job creating a Rural-Metro divide, convincing out-state folks, that the brown people in Minneapolis are sucking up all the tax dollars. The cities ARE doing better financially than the out-state areas and there’s a lot of rural resentment. It doesn’t matter that tax dollars flow out FROM the metro areas TO the rural areas. The GOP has convinced small-town Minnesotans they’re getting ripped off. That’s how you flip the legislature in a state with robust economic growth and low unemployment.

    The Minnesota Bicameral legislature doesn’t help. The Minnesota House is designed to give smaller population areas equal representation, but it ends up giving rural areas out-sized clout. There are more Blue voters in Minnesota overall, but more Red legislators. The GOP has made a concerted effort in the rural areas and it’s appeal to low-information and misinformed voters is working.

    Listen carefully to Trumps inauguration speech. He talks about America’s cities are cesspools of crime and violence. The GOP uses the same language here in Minnesota. Never mind the fact the Minneapolis is booming. One of the hottest trends in Minnesota real estate is the movement of young professionals right into downtown. Thousands of expensive apartments and condos have been added in recent years, but the GOP keeps telling people Minneapolis is a hellhole.

    I do think Democrats need to do a better job talking to rural voters. They need to highlight the economic benefits of their programs and make a case the good government can improve their lives. For example, Democrats tend to describe Health Care as a moral issue, that we have a moral obligation to provide Health Care to everyone. And I agree with this argument, but it plays very badly in areas that are lagging economically.

    People in those areas tend to hear the moral argument as another burden they have to carry. I think it would better to promote the idea the Obamacare or Single-payer care makes everyone’s healthcare better and more affordable. Democrats seem to be reluctant educate people on the realities of our system, which is that uninsured are drain and a burden to us all. Emergency Room visits are not free and cost us all a bundle.

    The GOP sells the idea of smaller government. Democrats should sell the idea of better government. Certainly Trump makes the argument plausible.

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