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Midterm Drama in the Midwest’s “Minnewisowa”


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Long edged out of the political spotlight by battleground states like Florida and Ohio, in recent years, the Upper Midwest has returned to the center stage of American politics—with formerly blue-leaning states like Wisconsin now the scene of fierce competition. Ahead of the 2022 midterms, it appears that voters in three of these states, in particular, could have an outsized influence on the results this November.

From 2000-2010, I frequently wrote op-eds for the Washington Times at the request of its esteemed editorial page editor, the late Tony Blankley. It was in that publication while covering the 2004 presidential campaign that I first used the term “Minnewisowa” to describe the political megastate, which included Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Iowa.

Since that time, Minnewisowa has been used by other journalists, and in many other publications. It has been listed as a new word in several dictionaries. These three adjacent states have very similar demographics, and they have tended in recent elections to vote similarly and act as bellwethers in national elections.

In mid-term elections, the voting similarities of these states are usually much less striking — since these elections often reflect more local and state issues. But the 2022 national mid-term appears now, only eight months away, likely to be significantly more “nationalized” as a response to a notably unpopular president, administration, and Congress — and it also appears that, once again, Minnewisowa could be a bellwether.

Leaning blue in recent years, Minnesota was expected to resist a possible red wave in 2022, but a new poll indicates that the state’s Democratic Party (called the Democratic-Farmer-Labor or DFL) is much more vulnerable than previously thought. Minnesota Republicans have seven major candidates running to unseat DFL Governor Tim Walz. In the KSTP/Survey USA poll, Walz only scores 43% against each of them — and leads GOP frontrunner (and first-time candidate), Scott Jensen, M.D., by only 43% to 40%. The state’s new congressional district boundaries have just been published, and seven of Minnesota’s eight seats (3 DFLers and 4 GOP) were little changed. Suburban MN-2, held by DFLer Angie Craig, had some changes, but the district remains DFL+1. She faces a tough re-election contest against Marine veteran Tyler Kistner, who almost defeated her in 2020, a mostly blue cycle in the state. A race could also develop in MN-1, whose GOP congressman recently passed away, but the district is traditionally conservative. State Republican strategists reportedly were pleased by the new legislative district boundaries and hope to take back control of the state House of Representatives as well as expand their narrow control of the state Senate:snip:

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