The terms “blue states” and “red states” are thrown around so often that they have become cliches, as though the entirety of a region’s political culture can be explained by which party they vote for in a given election.
But one region stands out as uniquely resistant to that model: the Midwest. Some Midwestern states are generally blue, like Minnesota. Others tend towards being red, like North Dakota or Kansas.
Some of this is easy to explain. An economy like North Dakota’s, driven as it is by natural gas and fossil fuels more generally, naturally fits well within the red state model. Others, like Illinois, dominated by large urban centers and high tech economies, naturally tend towards the blue state model.
Increasingly though, the Midwest is a political battleground. The collapse of the Democrats’ “blue wall” in 2016 demonstrated that.
Some states are likely to trend blue as their economies turn to healthcare and education as their driving forces. Others, dominated by construction, extraction, and oil, are likely to become even redder than they already are.
The future of American politics lies in the Midwest. Both parties are going to have to make their case to Midwestern voters.
Democrats are already trying. Senator Amy Klobuchar, Minnesota’s senior senator, announced her candidacy for president Sunday, Feb. 10 and other candidates are likely to make campaigning in the Midwest a priority.
President Donald Trump, whose victory in 2016 can be attributed to his successful campaigning in the region, is certain to focus on the Midwest as well.
But it’s unlikely that either party will dominate the region completely, regardless of who wins in 2020. For the foreseeable future, the Midwest is likely to be the battleground of American politics.