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Midwest still matters in Election 2020, researchers say

Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania together effectively decided the 2016 presidential election, and now the region is setting the agenda again. The Midwest remains the country’s leading battleground in Election 2020, researchers say.

University of Dayton political scientists Dan Birdsong and Christopher Devine in a new book chapter look at direct and indirect measures of battleground status, including presidential campaign visits (the Midwest has hosted more than any other region — 37% between 1988-2016). 

“The Midwest was the preeminent presidential battleground in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, without question,” they say. “Midwestern states were competitive, and the region had more electoral votes and more people than any other. It’s no surprise that political parties and presidential campaigns targeted Midwestern voters.  

“What is surprising is that the Midwest remains a leading presidential battleground, if not the preeminent one, to this day. It’s clear — in spite of significant losses in population and electoral vote share — candidates still view the Midwest as an electoral target well worth their time and money.”

Their chapter “Fly-To County: The Midwest as Presidential Battleground, 1946-2016” is available in The Conservative Heartland: A Political History of the Postwar American Midwest.


News and Communications Staff