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Old 05-19-2012, 11:11 AM
 
Location: Jefferson City 4 days a week, St. Louis 3 days a week
2,709 posts, read 4,233,455 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by skyduster View Post
The Midwest is geographic region that includes the following states (from roughly east to west): Ohio, Indiana, Michigan, Illinois, Wisconsin, Iowa, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, South Dakota, North Dakota, Kansas.

Officially, that's the Midwest.

Colloquially, different people have different ideas of what "Midwest" means, and these are usually people who are not well-informed, never read books, never look up facts (don't have a curiosity to do so), and/or suck in geography. But it doesn't matter what anyone thinks, or feels, or what someone has told you. The Midwest is those 12 states. Fact. End of story.

Having said that, the Midwest is not by any means a cultural region. Although they have considerable internal differences, the South and the Northeast are truer cultural regions. In the South and Northeast, yes there's internal cultural differences (and some very culturally different peripheries like South Florida), but the bulk of these regions is not that internally divided. The Midwest, on the other hand, is significantly divided. The Midwest is two large socio-cultural regions: the conservative, rural western plains region, and the heavily-populated, urbanized, and more liberal Great Lakes region. So, while all these 12 states (OH, IL, MI, WI, IN, MN, MO, IA, ND, SD, KS, NE) are geographically the Midwest, they fall into two very different socio-cultural regions.

There is also, of course, a 3rd wheel: the reality that the cultural-South...a.k.a. the Bible Belt, reaches into the southernmost areas of the Midwest: roughly the southern quarter of Missouri, the southernmost part of Illinois perhaps, and the southernmost slither of Ohio is also kissed by the South. But this area makes up such a very small part of the Midwest, we'll just excuse it as a peripheral anomaly, just like South Florida or Southern Louisiana within the South.

So, within cultural or political discourse, I always divide the region into the Plains region and Great Lakes region. I rarely ever talk about the "Midwest"...I only do so when talking about this federally-mandated geographic region. But when talking about political issues, I talk about the "Great Lakes" region, vs the "Great Plains" region. Ditto for cultural matters.

Now, where do I draw the line between the "Great Plains" and "Great Lakes" region...this one's more ambiguous. Kansas, Nebraska, and the Dakotas are squarely in the Plains region. Illinois, Wisconsin, Ohio, Michigan, and Indiana are squarely in the Great Lakes region. Missouri, IMO, sort of straddles both, culturally, (as well as its southern area straddling the cultural South). St Louis...although far from the Great Lakes, has more in common with Chicago and Milwaukee than Kansas City. Kansas City, OTOH, is definitely a Plains town. Iowa also straddles both. Minnesota is unique; I'd say it straddles both, but leans more Great Lakes, due in large part to the fact that its dominant population center -the Minneapolis-St Paul metro area- is definitely a Great Lakes town. I'd say the Plains parts of the state are more to the northwest and west of Minneapolis, as you head toward the Dakotas.

Here is a map of the official Midwest:




Political differences:

2000 presidential elections (electoral map):



2004 presidential elections (electoral map):


2008 presidential elections (electoral map):


Over those 3 elections, the Great Lakes region have trended bluer and bluer. Ohio and Indiana switched from red to blue. The Plains states and Missouri are red (although in all 3 elections, Missouri was pretty evenly split). Iowa has switched back and forth.

Opinion polls conducted to date, show that the Midwest will probably vote the same way in 2012 as it did in 2008, with the exception of Indiana switching to red.

Although not a clear divider between Plains states and Great Lakes states, the Great Lakes states trend on having no capital punishment, while the Plains states trend on having it. Below, states and territories in light blue have abolished the death penalty (or never had it to begin with):



Here's an interesting map that puts the Midwest's demographics into perspective. Below is a manipulated map of the United States...each state's land area has been manipulated to reflect the size of the state's population, rather than geographic accuracy:

As you can see, Illinois, Ohio, and Michigan are large states. Wisconsin, Missouri, Indiana, and Minnesota are reasonably large. Iowa, Nebraska, and Kansas are small. North Dakota and South Dakota are tiny. Generally speaking, the Great Lakes states are heavily populated; the Plains states are sparsely populated.

Illinois, Ohio, and Michigan all rank within the country's 10 largest states by population.

Here's how the Midwestern states stand in national rank by population:

#5 Illinois
#7 Ohio
#8 Michigan
#15 Indiana
#18 Missouri
#20 Wisconsin
#21 Minnesota
#30 Iowa
#33 Kansas
#38 Nebraska
#46 South Dakota
#48 North Dakota

Note the core Great Lakes states' rankings in relation to the Plains states and transition states. I also want to point out that comparing overall population size of Midwestern states is a pretty fair measure of density, since the differences in geographic sizes don't vary in the Midwest as much as they do in the Northeast (where you have states as small as Rhode Island and Connecticut alongside geographically-large states like Pennsylvania and New York.)

But, for good measure, the below map shows population density of the United States by county:

As is shown here: Illinois, Michigan, Wisconsin, Indiana, and Ohio are densely-populated. Nebraska, Kansas, North Dakota, and South Dakota are sparsely populated. Missouri, Iowa, and Minnesota are in-between.

The below map shows the locations of the 30 largest Metropolitan Statistical Areas in the United States:

Per my definition above (of where I draw the line between Great Lakes and Plains), 6 of the country's largest metro areas are located in the Great Lakes region (including St Louis and Minneapolis-St Paul), while only one is in the Plains region (Kansas City).

Population density of the Midwest as reflected by this night-time space view of North America:

Although, it's difficult to make out state boundaries, you can see that the eastern portion of the Midwest is more lit-up, and you can make out several of its population centers: Minneapolis-StPaul, St Louis, Indianapolis, Detroit-AnnArbor, Grand Rapids, Cleveland-Akron, Cincinnati, Columbus, and -of course- the large Gary-Chicago-Milwaukee agglomeration. You can also make out the several smaller ones, such as South Bend and Green Bay. The Plains region, by contrast, generally has fewer and smaller population centers.
The Midwest as a whole region is politically moderate. You have the Great Plains states, which are solidly red.

The only reason that Illinois is more progressive than Missouri, Indiana, and Ohio in certain areas and more politically blue is due to the size of Chicago. Take that out of the picture and you have a more moderate state. But Indiana definitely may have turned into a swing state as well.

Something else to note is that Ohio and Indiana were almost as split down the middle as Missouri...if I recall it was something like 52% to 48% in favor of Obama. Indiana had similar numbers.

Back to my analysis of politics in the Midwest, you have Ohio and Missouri, both notorious for being swing states. Then you have Iowa, one of the most politically balanced states in the country. And of course, you have Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Michigan, which are solidly blue.

You also have the Bible Belt extending into Missouri, Kansas, parts of Illinois, and parts of Indiana and Ohio.
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Old 05-19-2012, 11:15 AM
 
Location: OKIE-Ville
5,414 posts, read 7,717,153 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by skyduster View Post
The Midwest is geographic region that includes the following states (from roughly east to west): Ohio, Indiana, Michigan, Illinois, Wisconsin, Iowa, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, South Dakota, North Dakota, Kansas.

Officially, that's the Midwest.

Colloquially, different people have different ideas of what "Midwest" means, and these are usually people who are not well-informed, never read books, never look up facts (don't have a curiosity to do so), and/or suck in geography. But it doesn't matter what anyone thinks, or feels, or what someone has told you. The Midwest is those 12 states. Fact. End of story.

Having said that, the Midwest is not by any means a cultural region. Although they have considerable internal differences, the South and the Northeast are truer cultural regions. In the South and Northeast, yes there's internal cultural differences (and some very culturally different peripheries like South Florida), but the bulk of these regions is not that internally divided. The Midwest, on the other hand, is significantly divided. The Midwest is two large socio-cultural regions: the conservative, rural western plains region, and the heavily-populated, urbanized, and more liberal Great Lakes region. So, while all these 12 states (OH, IL, MI, WI, IN, MN, MO, IA, ND, SD, KS, NE) are geographically the Midwest, they fall into two very different socio-cultural regions.

There is also, of course, a 3rd wheel: the reality that the cultural-South...a.k.a. the Bible Belt, reaches into the southernmost areas of the Midwest: roughly the southern quarter of Missouri, the southernmost part of Illinois perhaps, and the southernmost slither of Ohio is also kissed by the South. But this area makes up such a very small part of the Midwest, we'll just excuse it as a peripheral anomaly, just like South Florida or Southern Louisiana within the South.

So, within cultural or political discourse, I always divide the region into the Plains region and Great Lakes region. I rarely ever talk about the "Midwest"...I only do so when talking about this federally-mandated geographic region. But when talking about political issues, I talk about the "Great Lakes" region, vs the "Great Plains" region. Ditto for cultural matters.

Now, where do I draw the line between the "Great Plains" and "Great Lakes" region...this one's more ambiguous. Kansas, Nebraska, and the Dakotas are squarely in the Plains region. Illinois, Wisconsin, Ohio, Michigan, and Indiana are squarely in the Great Lakes region. Missouri, IMO, sort of straddles both, culturally, (as well as its southern area straddling the cultural South). St Louis...although far from the Great Lakes, has more in common with Chicago and Milwaukee than Kansas City. Kansas City, OTOH, is definitely a Plains town. Iowa also straddles both. Minnesota is unique; I'd say it straddles both, but leans more Great Lakes, due in large part to the fact that its dominant population center -the Minneapolis-St Paul metro area- is definitely a Great Lakes town. I'd say the Plains parts of the state are more to the northwest and west of Minneapolis, as you head toward the Dakotas.

Here is a map of the official Midwest:




Political differences:

2000 presidential elections (electoral map):



2004 presidential elections (electoral map):


2008 presidential elections (electoral map):


Over those 3 elections, the Great Lakes region have trended bluer and bluer. Ohio and Indiana switched from red to blue. The Plains states and Missouri are red (although in all 3 elections, Missouri was pretty evenly split). Iowa has switched back and forth.

Opinion polls conducted to date, show that the Midwest will probably vote the same way in 2012 as it did in 2008, with the exception of Indiana switching to red.

Although not a clear divider between Plains states and Great Lakes states, the Great Lakes states trend on having no capital punishment, while the Plains states trend on having it. Below, states and territories in light blue have abolished the death penalty (or never had it to begin with):



Here's an interesting map that puts the Midwest's demographics into perspective. Below is a manipulated map of the United States...each state's land area has been manipulated to reflect the size of the state's population, rather than geographic accuracy:

As you can see, Illinois, Ohio, and Michigan are large states. Wisconsin, Missouri, Indiana, and Minnesota are reasonably large. Iowa, Nebraska, and Kansas are small. North Dakota and South Dakota are tiny. Generally speaking, the Great Lakes states are heavily populated; the Plains states are sparsely populated.

Illinois, Ohio, and Michigan all rank within the country's 10 largest states by population.

Here's how the Midwestern states stand in national rank by population:

#5 Illinois
#7 Ohio
#8 Michigan
#15 Indiana
#18 Missouri
#20 Wisconsin
#21 Minnesota
#30 Iowa
#33 Kansas
#38 Nebraska
#46 South Dakota
#48 North Dakota

Note the core Great Lakes states' rankings in relation to the Plains states and transition states. I also want to point out that comparing overall population size of Midwestern states is a pretty fair measure of density, since the differences in geographic sizes don't vary in the Midwest as much as they do in the Northeast (where you have states as small as Rhode Island and Connecticut alongside geographically-large states like Pennsylvania and New York.)

But, for good measure, the below map shows population density of the United States by county:

As is shown here: Illinois, Michigan, Wisconsin, Indiana, and Ohio are densely-populated. Nebraska, Kansas, North Dakota, and South Dakota are sparsely populated. Missouri, Iowa, and Minnesota are in-between.

The below map shows the locations of the 30 largest Metropolitan Statistical Areas in the United States:

Per my definition above (of where I draw the line between Great Lakes and Plains), 6 of the country's largest metro areas are located in the Great Lakes region (including St Louis and Minneapolis-St Paul), while only one is in the Plains region (Kansas City).

Population density of the Midwest as reflected by this night-time space view of North America:

Although, it's difficult to make out state boundaries, you can see that the eastern portion of the Midwest is more lit-up, and you can make out several of its population centers: Minneapolis-StPaul, St Louis, Indianapolis, Detroit-AnnArbor, Grand Rapids, Cleveland-Akron, Cincinnati, Columbus, and -of course- the large Gary-Chicago-Milwaukee agglomeration. You can also make out the several smaller ones, such as South Bend and Green Bay. The Plains region, by contrast, generally has fewer and smaller population centers.


Excellent.

One of the most well-thought and informative posts I've seen on C-D in quite some time.

Perhaps you could personally educate the people on the West Coast just what comprises the "Midwest"? There seems to be some confusion over there!
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Old 05-19-2012, 04:58 PM
 
5,767 posts, read 10,308,954 times
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Quote:
The Midwest is geographic region that includes the following states (from roughly east to west): Ohio, Indiana, Michigan, Illinois, Wisconsin, Iowa, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, South Dakota, North Dakota, Kansas.

Officially, that's the Midwest.

Colloquially, different people have different ideas of what "Midwest" means, and these are usually people who are not well-informed, never read books, never look up facts (don't have a curiosity to do so), and/or suck in geography. But it doesn't matter what anyone thinks, or feels, or what someone has told you. The Midwest is those 12 states. Fact. End of story.
That's one way to look at it. However, we kind of end up with a situation where the whole is less than its parts if we stick to a state-based approach. The great plains don't simply come to an abrupt halt at the Kansas-Colorado line. And if we define the great plains as a subset of "the Midwest," then "the Midwest" would not stop at that precise boundary, either.

State-based boundaries are mostly used for purposes of convenience, or in situations where statistical totals have to be precise, and since statistics are often defined by state, that's one way to come up with bright-line categories.

But out on the plains themselves... it's the same soil and sky and lifestyle on either side of many of those state lines, and for some purposes, it makes more sense to go with some classification other than just state line boundaries.
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Old 05-19-2012, 05:01 PM
 
Location: The heart of Cascadia
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Yeah there's just no way it can be that crazy to consider Plentywood, Montana, or Fort Morgan, Colorado Midwestern communities.
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Old 05-19-2012, 05:08 PM
 
Location: Jefferson City 4 days a week, St. Louis 3 days a week
2,709 posts, read 4,233,455 times
Reputation: 998
Quote:
Originally Posted by tablemtn View Post
That's one way to look at it. However, we kind of end up with a situation where the whole is less than its parts if we stick to a state-based approach. The great plains don't simply come to an abrupt halt at the Kansas-Colorado line. And if we define the great plains as a subset of "the Midwest," then "the Midwest" would not stop at that precise boundary, either.

State-based boundaries are mostly used for purposes of convenience, or in situations where statistical totals have to be precise, and since statistics are often defined by state, that's one way to come up with bright-line categories.

But out on the plains themselves... it's the same soil and sky and lifestyle on either side of many of those state lines, and for some purposes, it makes more sense to go with some classification other than just state line boundaries.
The western portions of the KS, NE, SD, and ND are more western than Midwestern, but the eastern halves are certainly more oriented toward the Midwest.

If you are going to say that these states are not the Midwest, then you can't call Oklahoma and Texas the south either. Overall, all of these states have the most in common with the regions they are grouped with.
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Old 05-19-2012, 05:27 PM
 
Location: The heart of Cascadia
1,328 posts, read 2,652,680 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by stlouisan View Post
The western portions of the KS, NE, SD, and ND are more western than Midwestern, but the eastern halves are certainly more oriented toward the Midwest.
I disagree. I see it the other way around - I see the entirety of those states as being Midwestern, and I would actually say the Midwest even extends a hundred miles or so into the states beyond. Like um, the eastern 1/4 of Colorado, maybe the last 70 miles of Wyoming, and maybe the eastern 1/3 of Montana.
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Old 05-19-2012, 07:27 PM
 
Location: Jefferson City 4 days a week, St. Louis 3 days a week
2,709 posts, read 4,233,455 times
Reputation: 998
Quote:
Originally Posted by callmemaybe View Post
I disagree. I see it the other way around - I see the entirety of those states as being Midwestern, and I would actually say the Midwest even extends a hundred miles or so into the states beyond. Like um, the eastern 1/4 of Colorado, maybe the last 70 miles of Wyoming, and maybe the eastern 1/3 of Montana.
I guess I see your logic. None of Wyoming though I would say is Midwestern. THere is nothing about Cheyenne that reminds me of Lincoln or Omaha.
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Old 05-19-2012, 07:54 PM
 
Location: IN
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Anything west of 100 degrees longitude is very much the West based on a number of factors including: land use, landcover, climate, crops grown, and population density.
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Old 05-19-2012, 08:06 PM
 
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Growing up on the west coast, the traditional impression was that stuff west of the Rocky Mountains was "the west," the mountains themselves were a transitional zone, and everything on the other side was "back east."
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Old 05-19-2012, 09:11 PM
 
Location: The heart of Cascadia
1,328 posts, read 2,652,680 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GraniteStater View Post
Anything west of 100 degrees longitude is very much the West based on a number of factors including: land use, landcover, climate, crops grown, and population density.
So Minot, ND is part of the West?
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