The term “Minnewisowa” as a political megastate made
its first appearance during the presidential election of
2004 in an op ed I wrote then in The Washington Times.
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
how similar in many important ways were the tangential
states of Minnesota, Wisconsin and Iowa. 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 had become predictably and almost inevitably “blue”
or “red.” Recently, the three states had leaned “blue”
(Democratic), 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 to be 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. Dr. 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 Mrs. 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, however, generated exceptional
turnout in the black and other minority communities, and
among independent voters (about 25-30% of the total vote).
95% 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 nose and vote for another ticket. The
current state of the GOP nomination contest reveals this
Iowa, as the first state to vote in the caucus/primary season,
has already drawn considerable candidate visits and attention.
With Governor Scott Walker now 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, and lots of liberal
and conservative millionaires who can and do contribute to
campaign war chests.
In 2004, Minnwisowa 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.
Copyright (c) 2015 by Barry Casseman. All rights reserved.