Can you figure this one out?
Why did the driftless area show such great support for Obama?
The driftless area encompasses parts of Iowa, Wisconsin and Illinios but does not respond to the man-made boundaries of state lines, but to a much more ancient geological phenomena. It is a land way out there in the blue defined by the workings of nature over 500,000 years ago. From Wiki:
The Driftless Area or Paleozoic Plateau is a region in the American Midwest noted mainly for its deeply carved river valleys. While primarily in southwestern Wisconsin, it includes areas of southeastern Minnesota, northeastern Iowa and extreme northwestern Illinois. Retreating glaciers leave behind silt, clay, sand, gravel, and boulders — called drift. This drift is said to be of Pre-Illinoian age about 500,000 years old.
Map the Mystery
The map of the 2012 election results by county above clearly shows the “Driftless Anomaly” first discovered by Scott Sumner in his article Was the Driftless Area Obama’s Ace in the Hole?.
The top circle shows the nearly solid blue county region of three adjacent states that voted Obama. The lower circle shows the boundaries of the geological boundaries of Driftless Area. The two areas are very nearly identical! So much so, that they suggest a weird “Driftless Anomaly”. What is it about the voting habit of the people of this region that forms this blue area of support for Obama that corresponds to geological events of thousands of years ago? What do you think?
The topography of the driftless area is unique in the world. Unusual is not always beautiful, but the Driftless Area is truly a wondrous work of nature with all the trimmings – lakes, streams, rivers, springs, bluffs, rolling hills, all painted as a miraculous landscape that has been tempered by time and protected by the love of the people who live within its glory.
But, economically it sucks. It is a nice place to visit but I would hate to try to find a job there. It’s beautiful rolling hills make it impossible to farm on any large scale. It is subject to flash flooding and gully washers. It is doted with small, I mean small, villages that have not grown in population for decades. So, what is it about the people who live here who are attracted to the Obama message? The average income of the residents is one of the lowest in the state, so maybe they are just another fit for the Romney/Ryan definition of the 47% of “takers”?
Here are some quotes from the comments to Scott Sumner’s article
(If you want to comment on this post you must click the heading and you will move to the article page)
kevin lamb says:
November 13, 2012 at 2:59 pm
There is no secret here, Scott. the Driftless region that baffles you so is the home to the largest concentration of organic farms in the US, and these farmers and the community that surrounds and supports them, are hardworking, open minded peaceful people.
November 13, 2012 at 3:21 pm
Maybe it’s that it’s an area full of engaged voters and is home to a strong labor tradition, world-class medical facilities (Mayo Clinic is in Rochester), and well-educated professors? I mean, I grew up there, so it might be easy for me to poke holes in this, but let’s spend more than five minutes with Google or Wikipedia and actually looking at an area before concluding that everyone who lives there is a farmer, even in jest.
November 13, 2012 at 5:58 pm
Shhhhh, now everyone will want to live here
My own guess that it is all much more mysterious than any man can know or define.