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Thursday, November 08, 2012

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Richard, the north-south line you suggest dividing the conservative Great Plains and the more liberal Upper Midwest is not the only line that can be drawn. There's also what I call the I-70 Line dividing north from south in the region (although in retrospect I might be willing to call it the I-80 Line).

North of I-70 are the more industrial big cities of the Midwest, shaped by their proximity to the Great Lakes. South of the interstate are cities that developed as river towns, ag centers or state capitals and were shaped by their proximity to the Ohio or Mississippi rivers. North of that line was settled by New Englanders and European immigrants, south of it was settled by Appalachian farmers. Both areas still carry the cultural legacies of their settlement. I think that divide drives Midwest politics even more than the one you identify.

Richard, it isn't that more people are moving to cities, it's that more people are moving to MSA's, mostly suburbs. The city cores are indeed Democrat strongholds. The suburban doughnut cities are competitive almost everywhere...purple. So big media markets are important in every election because they reach swing suburban voters. It was suburban Indianapolis voters who decided Indiana both for and against the President in succeeding elections.

And one must credit those Indiana voters for being somewhat discerning. Statewide, three Republicans and two Democrats won. It would be a mistake to call Indiana solidly Republican or Tea Party.

Pete, I agree. I-70 (old US40) is really the "Mason Dixon Line" through Ohio and Indiana; I don't know enough about Illinois to say. Indianapolis and Indiana have long been bifurcated there, with the Appalachian influence much stronger to the south. Ohio has 32 counties legally defined as Appalachian Region counties, stretching from the A-C-Y metro down around the east and south edges of the Columbus metro, down to the river and the east edge of the Cincinnati metro...the "empty third" of the state.

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