U.S. CitiesCity-Data Forum Index
Go Back   City-Data Forum > U.S. Forums > General U.S.
 [Register]
Please register to participate in our discussions with 2 million other members - it's free and quick! Some forums can only be seen by registered members. After you create your account, you'll be able to customize options and access all our 15,000 new posts/day with fewer ads.
View detailed profile (Advanced) or search
site with Google Custom Search

Search Forums  (Advanced)
Reply Start New Thread
 
Old 08-07-2014, 09:31 PM
 
Location: Cedar Rapids
233 posts, read 281,347 times
Reputation: 224

Advertisements



I was looking at this old map I have of the Iowa, Illinois, Wisconsin, Minnesota Quad-State area highlighted for it's unique political leanings in the past 30 or so years. This map, although it does not say it, is the Obama-Romney 2012 map.

It's funny because I've lived in Lee, Black Hawk, Polk, Johnson, Linn Counties in Iowa, as well as DuPage in Illinois. Every single one of these counties is within this blue area - so I'm curious - are there other areas in the country that you guys are familiar with that have more of a democratic, liberal leaning, while still being in a rural setting?

Yes there are urban areas within this region, but none of them are actually very large when compared with the rest of the country. For those of you not familiar, this is the Rockford, Moline, Rock Island, Davenport, Dubuque, Cedar Rapids, Waterloo, Des Moines, Rochester, LaCrosse, Madison area. However all of the rural counties are blue too which is the true distinctive.

When I actually think about our area - you do come across a lot of the eclectic naturalist types even in the outlying areas. I once had a teacher in high school that referred to herself as a liberal farmer. Don't get me wrong, people here definitely have values, and religion is nowhere near dead. But I've seen a lot of people say that our area is a "live and let live" type of place. A much different type of democrat than many may be used to on the West Coast, etc? Any experiences?

It would appear that areas of the "rural" far Northeast may be similar as far as political trends paired with low urbanity.
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message

 
Old 08-08-2014, 12:27 AM
 
Location: Minneapolis
2,331 posts, read 3,055,097 times
Reputation: 3925
The other area is rural New England. I read a political science paper once that theorized that it was due to the hilly nature of the areas. Hilly areas are less conducive to large farms. Both have economies that are largely driven by small farms (other hilly areas tend to have economies that are driven by mining and forestry). Small farms tend to have economic interests that put them at odds with the Wall Street end of the economy, which in turn pushes them away from the Republican party. That was the theory anyway.

It is interesting that this is one of the few rural areas full of white Democrats. These voters are the key to Iowa and Wisconsin being blue in presidential elections. Since the Republicans have a much harder road to winning the White House if they lose all of Minnesota, Wisconsin and Iowa, bluff countries' rural Democrats have an outsized influence on national politics - one that isn't often recognized.
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
 
Old 08-08-2014, 08:07 AM
 
Location: Milwaukee
3,451 posts, read 3,398,087 times
Reputation: 2895
The "Upper Midwest Valley" you note is the entirety of the Driftless Region, which is both a united sociopolitical and geographical area (where the glaciers missed). It has some of the highest concentrations of organic farming in the country (due to the fertile soil and the dramatically hilly topography, which dissuades any sort of industrial large-scale farming) and borders some well-known liberal cities like Madison. It is the only solidly blue rural region in the country comprised of a large white majority (black belt/hispanic border counties are the others) outside areas in New England. Part of this comes down to heritage, like a higher than average % of moderate/socialist Scando/N European descendents, as well. It's also a very beautiful and bucolic place that draws, uh, hippies and granolas who want to "live off the land."

The "Driftless Effect" was a popular post-election topic, as most people around the country have never heard of the Driftless region, and even people from WI/IA/MN are often unaware of its idiosyncrasies. And it probably was one of the main reasons Obama won, for good or ill depending on your point of view.
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
 
Old 08-08-2014, 08:08 AM
 
Location: Milwaukee
3,451 posts, read 3,398,087 times
Reputation: 2895
Quote:
Originally Posted by Drewcifer View Post
bluff countries' rural Democrats have an outsized influence on national politics - one that isn't often recognized.
Only Minnesotans call the Driftless "bluff country"

Very good summary.

I should note that parts of "Iron Country" (northern WI/MN/parts of the UP) are also blue, due to mining/labor history (this is where Bob Dylan is from).
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
 
Old 08-08-2014, 08:16 AM
 
Location: Cedar Rapids
233 posts, read 281,347 times
Reputation: 224
Quote:
Originally Posted by burrrrr View Post

I was looking at this old map I have of the Iowa, Illinois, Wisconsin, Minnesota Quad-State area highlighted for it's unique political leanings in the past 30 or so years. This map, although it does not say it, is the Obama-Romney 2012 map.

It's funny because I've lived in Lee, Black Hawk, Polk, Johnson, Linn Counties in Iowa, as well as DuPage in Illinois. Every single one of these counties is within this blue area - so I'm curious - are there other areas in the country that you guys are familiar with that have more of a democratic, liberal leaning, while still being in a rural setting?

Yes there are urban areas within this region, but none of them are actually very large when compared with the rest of the country. For those of you not familiar, this is the Rockford, Moline, Rock Island, Davenport, Dubuque, Cedar Rapids, Waterloo, Des Moines, Rochester, LaCrosse, Madison area. However all of the rural counties are blue too which is the true distinctive.

When I actually think about our area - you do come across a lot of the eclectic naturalist types even in the outlying areas. I once had a teacher in high school that referred to herself as a liberal farmer. Don't get me wrong, people here definitely have values, and religion is nowhere near dead. But I've seen a lot of people say that our area is a "live and let live" type of place. A much different type of democrat than many may be used to on the West Coast, etc? Any experiences?

It would appear that areas of the "rural" far Northeast may be similar as far as political trends paired with low urbanity.
A portion of this is the Driftless region, however most of it is not. In fact, Des Moines, Cedar Rapids, the Quad Cities... down through Burlington, up in Rockford and Rochester - none of these lie within the driftless area. It would be a common misconception, but the driftless area outside of Dubuque is a very small portion of this region's population.

Please don't take that as defensive or missing your point, as I feel to note as a disclaimer on all posts in this forum.
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
 
Old 08-08-2014, 08:21 AM
 
Location: Milwaukee
3,451 posts, read 3,398,087 times
Reputation: 2895
Nah, it's the Driftless more-or-less plus some bordering liberal cities and counties bordering them. The only real outlyer is some of the IL counties, as it's really only a county or two in IL that are truly "driftless." Madison itself is just outside the Driftless, but it's obviously a liberal bastion.

The vast majority of rural counties on the map are in the Driftless, to ignore it as part of the "solution" is intellectually dishonest.
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
 
Old 08-08-2014, 08:52 AM
 
Location: Cedar Rapids
233 posts, read 281,347 times
Reputation: 224
Quote:
Originally Posted by cheese plate View Post
Nah, it's the Driftless more-or-less plus some bordering liberal cities and counties bordering them. The only real outlyer is some of the IL counties, as it's really only a county or two in IL that are truly "driftless." Madison itself is just outside the Driftless, but it's obviously a liberal bastion.

The vast majority of rural counties on the map are in the Driftless, to ignore it as part of the "solution" is intellectually dishonest.
I'll agree the Driftless area is a substantial part of the map, however to say Illinois is the only true outlying area within the zone outlined is intellectually dishonest when considering the state of Iowa.

Rochester, Albert Lea, Mason City, Waterloo, Cedar Falls, Marion, Des Moines/Ankeny, Ames, Fort Dodge, Newton, Iowa City, Davenport, Bettendorf, Ottumwa, Muscatine, Keokuk, Burlington, Fort Madison, Cedar Rapids, Marion (list goes on) are not in the driftless area.

Don't get me wrong, I wish the whole area was the driftless area.. think how much more beautiful it would be here. As far as Wisconsin goes where you are, it may be easy to point at anything Southwest of Madison and say that it is the driftless area, that quaint vacation area. Which is mostly true in Wisconsin, just not in Iowa, IL or MN.


The Driftless Area lies within the "Upper Mississippi Valley" which I think defines the area better.
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
 
Old 08-08-2014, 09:00 AM
 
Location: Milwaukee
3,451 posts, read 3,398,087 times
Reputation: 2895
It's absolutely true for Wisconsin and Minnesota, and true for the entirety of the IA/IL Driftless plus a handful of IL/IA counties surrounding it. To me, central IA is its own blue thing and not part of the Driftless Effect. The meat of this "effect" is the Driftless. Outlyers potentially are simply influenced by the culture of the Driftless. I'm not sure why you're hammering on this, as a good 80-90% of the circled rural blue counties on that map are in or have portions of the Driftless.
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
 
Old 08-08-2014, 09:05 AM
 
Location: Pittsburgh, PA (Morningside)
12,421 posts, read 11,926,143 times
Reputation: 10539
I looked into this after the 2012 election to some extent. Once you exclude urban areas and majority-minority counties relatively few "blue" counties are left. Most of those can be explained as locations of college towns or areas which still have relatively high union density, along with a few cases of left-leaning state capitols.

Excluding those, blue rural counties are really only found in four parts of the country. The Upper Midwest, as you noted, with some outlier counties all the way into the Dakotas. New England, of course. Another is the rural West Coast north of the Bay Area to Seattle. Not the whole thing mind you - Southwestern Oregon is pretty right-wing. But you'll find rural Democratic areas all the way from Mendocino up to San Juan Islands. The final is some rural counties in central Colorado - I think this is the "ski vote" - but I'm not entirely sure.

Edit. One thing to note though is the "greater Driftless" region isn't really that anomalous in the region. Few of the rural counties voted over 60% Obama. Similarly, most of the rural counties in the Upper Midwest which voted Republican didn't vote over 60% Romney (Republican strength in Wisconsin and Minnesota has always been suburban/exurban, not rural). This is a very different voting pattern from the lower Midwest, where many rural counties are far, far more conservative.
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
 
Old 08-08-2014, 09:20 AM
 
Location: Minneapolis
1,704 posts, read 2,763,360 times
Reputation: 2335
^The Driftless is definitely consistently liberal. It's dotted with ELCA Lutherans and little hippie bluff towns like Decorah and Lanesboro. I guarantee it's not a fluke of swing state voting.

I would include the Twin Cities in this, too. It's close enough that the conservative counties separating it aren't significant, and it's so intimately connected to most of this region. You could do the same with Chicago I guess.

I think a person could even class this as a larger area that also includes the Iron Range and the North Shore. Notice that Chippewa County, WI was only 40% for Romney, and of course many of these counties could go either way.
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
Please register to post and access all features of our very popular forum. It is free and quick. Over $68,000 in prizes has already been given out to active posters on our forum. Additional giveaways are planned.

Detailed information about all U.S. cities, counties, and zip codes on our site: City-data.com.


Reply
Please update this thread with any new information or opinions. This open thread is still read by thousands of people, so we encourage all additional points of view.

Quick Reply
Message:


Over $104,000 in prizes was already given out to active posters on our forum and additional giveaways are planned!

Go Back   City-Data Forum > U.S. Forums > General U.S.
Follow City-Data.com founder on our Forum or

All times are GMT -6.

2005-2019, Advameg, Inc. · Please obey Forum Rules · Terms of Use and Privacy Policy · Bug Bounty

City-Data.com - Archive 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31, 32, 33, 34, 35 - Top