Barnstorming the Midwest: Milwaukee, Part 1

Since I’m on this barnstorming tour for the remainder of 2017, I don’t need to live in Milwaukee until the spring, meaning I’m moving out of my apartment. That meant the unenviable task of cleaning it out but also provided the opportunity to use the Marquette University Archives, which play host to dozens and dozens of feet of relevant material from some of Wisconsin’s prominent politicians of the 1980s.

There are 2200 words ahead, click on if you dare.

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Down-Ballot Elections in the Midwest, 2016

The following are excerpts from a larger panel titled “The New Midwestern Politics? The 2016 Election and Beyond” at the 2017 Midwestern History Association Conference, hosted at Grand Valley State University’s Pew Campus in Grand Rapids, MI, and hosted by the Ralph Hauenstein Center for Presidential Studies. Feel free to contact me with questions about the maps, findings, or methodology.

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Mapping Party Control of State Legislatures in the Upper Midwest

In preparation for a panel on the Midwest in the 2016 elections for the Midwestern History Association Conference in Grand Rapids this June, I’m working on my particular focus: down-ballot elections. My biggest problem was this–besides saying “things didn’t go well for Democrats,” I had little-to-no idea how to show that (Ted, if you read this, I swear things are going better now).

We talk a lot about the growing rural-urban divide between Republicans and Democrats, but elections within even my lifetime, like 1992 and 2008, demonstrate that a healthy amount of Democratic support came from rural and suburban areas. So where is it now? In order to fully come to terms with the landscape of the Democratic (the focus of my dissertation, thus its emphasis) and Republican parties in 2016, we need to find where they have support at the local levels.

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The Midwest and the Election of 2016

Because – and believe me,¬†only¬†because – I study the Midwest for fun and (hopefully) profit/employment, I wanted to note its role in last night’s historic election.

First, I think it’s important to note that I do not want this election to change how I write my dissertation. While I know that’s virtually impossible on the micro-level, I remain confident in my preliminary findings that a new, distinctly Midwestern flavor of liberalism emerged between 1978 and 1992. Russ Feingold’s defeat by Ron Johnson, Wisconsin’s flip to red for the first time since 1984, and even the jarringly close results in Minnesota do little to change the fact that a regional brand of progressive populism drove Midwestern Democrats like Tom Daschle, Tom Harkin, Paul Wellstone, and yes, Russ Feingold into the Senate.

Instead, I just want to share a couple things I find really, really interesting from this election and maaaaybe hint at why the period from 1992-2016 will be a fun one for historians of Clintonism to look back on and flesh out.

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