Minnesota's urban-rural divide is no lie

"612 values" don't connect in other parts of the state, and it's not clear that Democrats understand that. 

Free-lunch season. That’s how I think of the weeks before and after elections, when I often deliver geeky PowerPoint presentations about Minnesota politics to businesses and civic groups.

Here’s one of my themes: Democrats and Republicans are colonizing different parts of our state. Democrats are locking down votes in and around cities while Republicans are cleaning up in rural areas.

You may be nodding as you recall red and blue polka-dotted election maps you’ve seen of Minnesota.

It’s all part of the deep political divide across America — often an urban/rural divide — that grew still deeper after the searing (“Send her back!”) attacks by President Donald Trump on four women of color elected to Congress, including U.S. Rep. Ilhan Omar of Minnesota.

My talks last fall gave me a personal feel for America’s partisan anger. When I described Minnesota’s divisions to Minneapolis audiences before and after the 2018 midterms, I was instructed by progressives that the urban/rural split is a Republican lie.

With predictable academic stiffness, I pointed to my charts and maps as proof. Wrong, I was told. Middle- and lower-income voters in the two regions share the need for health care, housing, and an easing of economic inequality. What I am presenting, my critics insisted, is in fact evidence of failed DFL leadership rather than of a meaningful divide among voters. An able politician would bring urban and rural voters together in a coalition.

Fair enough, to a point. Strong campaigns by U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar and Gov. Tim Walz have won in rural areas where few Democrats succeed these days. On the other hand, the past dozen years of state legislative races reveal an unmistakable trend.

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"Minnesota's urban-rural divide is no lie"; By Lawrence R. Jacobs; Star Tribune;

July 26, 2019.