America's politically homeless heartland

Why both parties ignore the Midwest at their own peril

South Dakota.
(Image credit: PatrickZiegler/iStock)

The winds have turned yet again in the 2018 elections, and the Democrats are feeling their sails fill. Specifically, the congressional map is broadening, and it looks quite different from how the Democrats thought it might just a few short months ago. Back in 2017, many had anticipated a continuation of the trends of 2016, with the strongest pickup opportunities in relatively upscale suburbs that flipped from Mitt Romney to Hillary Clinton and hence had demonstrated a skepticism for an increasingly Trumpified GOP. Instead, most of the battleground turns out to be in Trump country — more specifically, in the part of the country that President Trump himself flipped to the GOP in 2016.

The biggest proportion of these seats is in the Midwest. Over 40 percent of the 26 seats rated as toss-ups by the Cook Political Report are in the Midwest, as are 30 percent of the larger group of 60 seats rated as most vulnerable to flip to the Democrats (current GOP seats rated Lean GOP to Likely Democrat). Far from having painted a previously blue region red, the Trump tide looks ready to recede, and a host of strong Democratic candidates are eager to plant their flag on that ground.

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Noah Millman

Noah Millman is a screenwriter and filmmaker, a political columnist and a critic. From 2012 through 2017 he was a senior editor and featured blogger at The American Conservative. His work has also appeared in The New York Times Book Review, Politico, USA Today, The New Republic, The Weekly Standard, Foreign Policy, Modern Age, First Things, and the Jewish Review of Books, among other publications. Noah lives in Brooklyn with his wife and son.