Posted by: seanmalstrom | October 20, 2012

Email: Reagan never won MN — only because of Mondale

As the resident political expert from MN from your readershipo, I can point out that the only reason why Reagan didn’t win Minnesota is because his opponent was Walter Mondale, who hailed from Minnesota. Vice President challenger in 1980, and President challenger in 1984. To this day, Mondale has a very cult-like following among the political science group at the University of Minnesota and pretty much anyone from the liberal sect. You can bet your bottom dollar that if it was anyone but Mondale on the tickets, Minnesota would have gone for Reagan.
Geographically, most of Minnesota is actually very conservative (like most of Texas is). It is only the metropolitan areas of the Twin Cities and Duluth which form the liberal bastion which typically sways Minnesota’s national offices in the D’s favor. There are some interesting dynamics around that, but nonetheless…
The point of the email is to let you know that, in 2012, there is no Mondale. If anything, neighboring Ryan will help the R’s cause in MN. Even though the last time MN has given its votes to an R was in ‘72, clearly the U of Colorado knows its stuff, and I think it has the dynamics down right this time. So I rate the U of Colorado’s prediction on the state of 2012 as “daring”, but “smart”.The Rs have written MN off because the state has a strange history in its politics. It voted Jesse Ventura as governor. Currently, it has Al Franken as senator.

I’m surprised to hear you think that Ryan would have influence in MN. I can see why Ryan would have influence in Wisconsin but not in neighboring states. Traditionally, the VP pick doesn’t matter except to pull in the VP’s home state. JFK had LBJ as his running mate just to pull in Texas into the D column in 1960 for example.

While I don’t disagree with you saying the cities of MN pull it into the D column with the rural area being R (this is also the case in states like Illinois, New York, and California), I don’t see that in Texas. Texas, as was the southern states, have very agrarian based economies. When the economies modernized, the areas changed politically.

What does rural mean? Even as recent as the 1940s, rural meant poor. The rural people in the southern states were very poor and not very well academically educated. Today, rural means something very different. In order to be rural, you must have money in order to purchase the land, pay the property taxes, and the upkeep on your home.

I don’t see it as ‘cities vote D’ and ‘rural votes R’. I see it as ‘low income votes D, middle class votes R, extreme wealth (or old wealth) votes D’. Many of the people in the inner cities are low income. The people who can afford to live out in the rural areas tend to be more middle class. I think this distinction is necessary because it is how the south transformed. The rural families are still living in the same exact spot going back generations in many parts. Today, however, they have much more money and much more education.

There is a part of south Texas, near the border, that is extremely poor and consistently votes D. This is also the site of the new oil boom. The oil boom will totally transform that area. Even if the oil good times don’t last, the standing buildings and all will be converted to office space which attracts businesses (this is what happened to Houston after the oil boom of Spindletop wore off). So what I expect to see is as the income levels rise in that region, the voting behavior will change as more and more of the population becomes middle class.

This is why I never put any stock in the entire ‘ethnoculture’ idea. It’s the idea that because of immigration of Hispanics (or some other group), Ds will have permanent political majority. Texas has been moving more and more R for decades despite receiving more Hispanic growth than most of any other state. The reason why is because in Texas, Hispanics tend to be more middle class. They are small business owners and are very entrepreneurial. The entire reason why this site exists, of me trying to learn more about business, was because I kept seeing Hispanics, who started off financially worse than I ever did, end up retiring at a very early age with a ton of money. One Hispanic I knew retired at the age of 22 due to his investments in real estate and construction. He’ll never have to get a job again. He can just play video games for the rest of his life or whatever else he wants to do.

The University of Colorado’s predictions should be getting more attention. I’d like to do an analysis of their model. Here is what I do not understand. Assuming U of Colorado is correct in their prediction this time around, why wouldn’t more political scientists emulate it? Don’t they want to be right as well? But here’s the thing, I don’t think many people want to be correct. They want to feel comfortable, and it causes people to say strange things.

Take this Cook editorial for example. For those who don’t know, Cook is a very famous political analyst who many journalists listen as well as many Ds. Why is he talking about some freakish longshot chance of a popular vote and electoral vote split? It’s so rare that it has only happened four times in the history of the nation. It’s so rare that it is not even worth talking about the possibility.

I think Cook saying that is just wishful thinking. State polls tend to lag behind national polls. How else to explain the national polls except to assume that ‘a bunch of hick southerners are lopsiding the national polls’. There are people out there that actually think that.

I decided to look up the elections where the popular and electoral vote split just for reference. Here’s what I found:


This election is a mess. There was no electoral victor due to so many candidates so the vote went to the House which elected Quincy Adams. Since we only have two major party candidates, the possibility of no candidate getting enough electoral votes isn’t a possibility. Let’s move on.


(As a fun historical fact, it was seen as ‘improper’ for presidential candidates to actively stump for the office. Surrogates did the job for them. They made no speeches. When Abraham Lincoln ran for president, he also gave no public speeches.)

This election is far more interesting than I could imagine. This election took place not long after the Civil War and tempers were hot on both sides. There was massive amounts of voter suppression and fraud. Congress kept declaring certain states’ votes as illegitimate and the problem just got worse and worse. The election was a full blown Constitutional crisis. If people want to read about an interesting election, the intriguing details await.

But the point is that this election wasn’t so much of a divide between electoral vote and popular vote as was disputes over the votes themselves. Similar to 1824, this was quite a mess of an election.


This is the only election that fits the usual electoral vote / popular vote split aside from 2000. 1824 has no one gaining a majority of electoral votes due to so many candidates. 1876 had Congress rejecting votes from states due to fraud, suppression, and whatever else. But in 1888, Cleveland barely won 24 states by 1% while Harrison won Cleveland’s home state of New York (and its massive electoral votes) by 1% of the vote. So this election had many close elections in many of the states.

112 years later was the 2000 election. 112 years! And Cook is writing of a probability of a popular vote/ electoral vote split in 2012? What is he smoking, and where can I get some?

While its technically true there are four elections of a popular / electoral vote split, several of them don’t fit the context in which we hold them. 1824 had no majority electoral vote winner due to so many candidates. 1877 had serious fraud problems and then dispute issues. Only 1888 can compare to 2000 and even then 1888 was close by 1% in 25 states. And, of course, in 2000 Florida was hit by three hurricanes that destabilized certain regions as well as being called before voting had ended. Florida was suffering from some unusual variables that year which cannot be repeated.

I don’t see of any possibility of a split electoral / popular vote this election or any other election in the future. It was 112 years from 2000 where we saw a split like that. It is likely another 112 years in the future for another split. And everyone alive today will be dead so it doesn’t matter.

So I’m filing Cook’s editorial under ‘wishful thinking’.


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