Wednesday, May 2, 2012

"Minnewisowa" One More Time

    The term "Minnewisowa" was invented and introduced in the 2004 presidential
campaign cycle. "Minnewisowa" is a portmanteau neologism which stands for the
electoral combination of Minnesota, Wisconsin and Iowa, three contiguous
midwestern states with similar demographics,  and which together have 26
electoral votes. They are  also perennially "swing" states that can go either into
the Democratic or Republican column on Election Day.

In 2004, Iowa voted for George W. Bush, while Wisconsin and Minnesota cast
their electoral votes for John Kerry. In 2008, all three voted for Barack Obama.
But in 2012, all three, especially Iowa and Wisconsin, are up for grabs.

In fact, party registration in Iowa has for the first time in a long while gone from
a lead for Democrats to a lead for Republicans. First reported more than a month
ago, that lead (while small) has doubled in the latest report.

Wisconsin is a special case this year. A recall election of Governor Scott Walker
has been called primarily by union supporters who opposed Walker-signed
legislation that limits the power of government employee unions. An earlier
recall effort failed to change the balance of power in the state legislature, but
Wisconsin Democrats have come back to challenge not only Walker but several
state senators. A lot is at stake for both sides, and any outcome is possible. But
the risk for Democrats if they fail in this second recall effort, as they did in the first,
is that it may cost President Obama the state in his re-election effort here about
four months later.

Minnesota leans Democratic this year, and the state Republican Party is mired in
scandal and financial problems. The Minnesota governor is a Democrat (called
DFLer in the state), and the legislature is Republican. There are few Minnesota
close congressional elections this year, and the incumbent DFL U.S. Senator Amy
Klobuchar has little prospect of a serious opponent. But the forces which propelled
such a high DFL turnout for Mr Obama in 2008 are not present this year, and the
presidential election could be closer than the ten-point margin in the last cycle.

If Mitt Romney could win Iowa and Wisconsin in 2012, that alone would be a net
gain of 16 electoral votes from 2008. Combined with the current Republican lead in
Indiana and good prospects for the GOP in Ohio (both these states voted for
Obama in 2008), this region could produce just under half the electoral votes the
GOP nominee would need to overtake the incumbent president. Most of the other
(and larger) half could come from the combined electoral votes of Virginia, North
Carolina and Florida, three southern states which also voted Democratic in 2008.

It's too early to make predictions about all of this, but the electoral college
vulnerability of Mr. Obama is already present in the above-mentioned states, not
to mention about a half dozen others.

"Minnewisowa' went solidly for Mr. Obama in 2008, signaling his decisive
nationwide victory. A change in voter sentiment in this three-state "swing bloc,"
could signal political trouble for the Democratic president four years later.

Copyright (c) 2012 by Barry Casselman.  All rights. reserved.

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