Last week we talked about moderate independents and how they tend to vote. This week, as a bit of a follow-up, we’re going to talk about the Midwest, where moderate “meat and potatoes” politics was successful in the 2018 elections, and how the Midwest has and will impact national politics moving into the 2020 election. |
Before we get into specifics from previous elections, a little background on the Midwest: According to The Council of State Governments, the Midwest is made up of 11 states: Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota, Ohio and Wisconsin. These states make up 108 of the 538 electors in the Electoral College. Of these electors, 61 are not solidly one party or the other, according to the Cook Political Report. Of the 11 states, three have been considered very important states in recent elections. Ohio is important because no Republican president in recent history has won without winning Ohio, while Michigan and Wisconsin are toss-up states with 16 and 10 electoral votes, respectively.
In 2016, Trump won Michigan and Wisconsin by 1.3% and 1.0% of the vote, respectively. Though many blame this on Clinton’s ground game in these states, even if she did win Michigan and Wisconsin, she would have remained 12 votes short, so of the toss-up and lean-Republican states, she would have needed to pick up Florida, Pennsylvania, Georgia or North Carolina as well. Regardless, Michigan and Wisconsin shifted right in the 2016 election.
Though this was a blow for the Democratic Party, in 2018 both the Michigan and Wisconsin governorships flipped from red to blue based on the candidate’s moderate platforms. Governor Gretchen Whitmer of Michigan won a campaign focusing on everyday issues such as healthcare, education and infrastructure— “fix the damn roads” was her campaign slogan. Her campaign had a wide appeal, winning with 53.3% of the vote. In Wisconsin, Governor Tony Evers beat out conservative Republican incumbent Scott Walker by 1.1% of the vote, by focusing on investing in the future—in schools, in the economy and in infrastructure.
The switch to electing moderate Democrats in the Midwest is not limited to toss-up states: Kansas, a solid Republican state, flipped its governorship from a conservative Republican to a moderate Democrat, with Laura Kelly, the moderate Democrat besting the Trumpian-conservative Kris Kobach to become governor in the 2018 election. A New York Times article gives the anecdote of a Republican lawyer in Kansas who actually donated to Kelly’s campaign and voted for her in the election in order to return Kansas to its moderate roots, “a shift back to where we are really.”
Minnesota, on the other hand, had multiple flips in congressional seats, though the Senate seats and governorship remained with the Democrats. MN-1 and MN-8 both flipped to Republican, while MN-2 and MN-3 flipped to Democrat. Two seats in Iowa, two in Michigan and two in Illinois were also flipped from red to blue.
Overall, the analysis of the 2018 elections suggests that Midwesterners, specifically in Michigan, Wisconsin and Kansas, are embracing moderate politics, which suggests that the 2020 election has the potential to be very interesting, especially if the Democratic primary results in a more moderate candidate. Nationwide trends also suggest that moderate politics is becoming more popular.
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...HUPAC is a bipartisan political action committee? We support Republicans, Democrats and Independents alike. It is not the party affiliation we look at but rather if they are supporters of agents and brokers. The R or D in front of their name does not always tell the full story. There are Republicans who would like to dismantle the employer-based system for health insurance and put a lot of agents and brokers out of work, and there are Democrats who support a single-payer system that would also put agents and brokers out of work. Instead we look at members of Congress and candidates who have expressed their support for private-sector solutions in healthcare and who have sponsored legislation that is supportive of our legislative agenda.