September 30, 2004

state electoral trends: IA, MN, WI

There's a lot of handwringing on the left side over the polls coming out of these states. Of course, the worry is that any or all of them, which went for Gore in 2000, may go for Bush this year, making Kerry's electoral math that much more difficult. But the angst is compounded by the impression that these are supposed to be "solid blue" states. And the main reason for this impression is the fact that all three have gone Democratic in each election since 1988. So if Dukakis, who got an electoral spanking, could carry them, then they must be Democratic bastions, right?

Well, the graphs show what's going on. Compare them to the other northern tier states diaried below. It's the same Democratic bubble that peaked in 1988 from the Dakotas to the Pacific coast. In most of those other states, the trend made prior Republican blowouts into mere decisive victories. But in these one-time swing states, the 80's phenomenon created the salad days of Democratic dominance. Minnesota is a slight exception in that it started from a more strongly Democratic baseline, but the pattern is still evident.

Since 1992, Iowa and Wisconsin have both hovered around the national average. Minnesota slipped into that range four years ago, though in each case the Nader factor may be exaggerating the reddening of the landscape. In any case, all three states belong in the battleground category now.