Great Lakes Regional Trend
Great Lakes states are: Minnesota, Michigan, Wisconsin, Illinois, and Ohio. I am not including Indiana is this region because politically it fits more with Kentucky, Tennessee, and West Virginia, what I would call the Appalachian region. Every one of the Great Lakes states is moving leftward, especially Ohio. Ohio is the only state that has consistently voted Republican since the 1980s, with the exception of Bill Clinton. This region's Democratic base is mostly unionized workers. Detroit, home of the Big Three, is the center of this union region. Increasingly, free trade with countries like China and Japan have been spawning job losses in this largely manufacturing region, built up on the great trade opportunities the Great Lakes afford. This leads the population of the area to be more protectionist and less pro-free trade. Free trade incarnate is the Republican party. This economic 'libertarianism', while possibly benefiting society as a whole, has been felt extensively throught the region. Now, Democrats aren't necessarily protectionist, but their opposition to pacts like CAFTA and NAFTA and the free trade agreement with China due to unfair labor practices and regulation have drawn support from people in these states. The boom in immigrants hasn't affected this region nearly as much as other regions of the country. In Ohio moreso than the other regions, social issues are not any part of the reason for the leftward trend. Ohio is the only state in the country with an enforceable ban on an abortion procedure, and voters there recently approved a ban on gay marriage. In Ohio, the Democrats could hurt partisan shifts by stressing social liberties that Ohioans don't have an affinity for. The other states in the region are all more socially liberal than Ohio, and the 'religious right' will not be able to substantially slow the leftward movement. Economic populism is the main cause of the leftward shift, along with environmentalism, and, to some extent, social issues in Minnesota, Michigan, and Illinois. For the Republicans to start winning these states over, the party needs to take a look at its economic platform. While conservatives dominate the government right now, they should take notice that more states are moving leftward than rightward, and those leftward moving states are the ones that will yield significant electoral power as population trends shape the face of the country.