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Poll: When Midwesterners think of the Midwest, majority think of Illinois

Wednesday, Apr 20, 2011

* A new poll conducted by the Midwest Initiative at Monmouth College of 500 registered voters in eight Midwestern states found that when people are asked to identify which states they thought of when they heard the word “Midwest,” Illinois comes out on top…

Since there were 500 respondents, those 255 mentions of Illinois is a majority.

From the pollster

There is a weak correlation between state of residence and the states named, for the eight states from which respondents were drawn were listed by one hundred or more respondents as Midwestern.

If there is a pattern here, it is one of an absence of consensus and, at one level, a bit of confusion about the Midwest. The inclusion of Ohio and Michigan suggests that the Midwest still carries some identification with the historic “Old Northwest” of the Northwest Territories (Indiana, Illinois, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio, and Wisconsin), though Iowa, so often thought of as the quintessential Midwestern state, finished second in the number of times named despite having only 5% of the total respondents.

* Another question asked what values respondents thought of when they heard the word “Midwest”…

* “All things considered, on a scale of 1-10 (with 1 being not satisfied at all and 10 being extremely satisfied), how satisfied are you to live in the Midwest?”…

About 75 percent rate their satisfaction at 6-10. Not bad at all.

* A bright outlook for the future…

* But Midwesterners really don’t like the way things are heading right now…

* And globalization and trade are not always viewed as positive things…

* Methodology…

Live calls to 500 registered voters in eight Midwestern states: Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Ohio and Wisconsin. The random sample poll was conducted from March 23-24 and has a margin of error of +/- 4.4% at a 95% confidence level.


- Posted by Rich Miller        

  1. - Not It - Wednesday, Apr 20, 11 @ 10:27 am:

    The 87 respondents who thoughts midwesteners were hard working, and the 35 who said midwesteners were HONEST have obviously not had to deal very much with the Illinois General Assembly.

  2. - Downstate - Wednesday, Apr 20, 11 @ 10:31 am:

    Very insightful poll with some troubling numbers for the President … wrong track/right track reveal midwesterners don’t feel that the country is on the right track …

  3. - wordslinger - Wednesday, Apr 20, 11 @ 10:35 am:

    Who are the yokels who put Arkansas, Oklahoma and Pennsylvania in the Midwest? I hope they have a designated driver.

    The attitudes on globalization were interesting. Despite decades of the bipartisan, Establishment dogma on “free trade,” most folks know what that meant to the all the factories that used to dot small- and medium-sized towns all over the region.

  4. - Louis Howe - Wednesday, Apr 20, 11 @ 11:25 am:

    The Monmouth College poll affirms, once again, the disconnect between the public’s perception of Globalization and our economic policy makers promotion of open borders. The prolonged “Great Recession” continues to stoke the fires; the question becomes which political candidate will be willing to pull the train out of the station and change the direction taken by our current economic policies.

  5. - Anonymous - Wednesday, Apr 20, 11 @ 11:31 am:

    That sounds about right–especially views on “globalization”, general direction in which we’re headed, and outlook for the future.

    As a Midwesterner, I’m going to interpret that as we’re willing to fight for our State–so all those claiming that everyone’s moving to TX and Illinois will be a “ghost town” soon, can *insert the term Rich is well known for here*.

  6. - JimF - Wednesday, Apr 20, 11 @ 11:50 am:

    The 5-10 satisfaction selections total almost 90%. I think you meant the 5 most favorable views (6-10) which do total about 75%

  7. - Anonymous - Wednesday, Apr 20, 11 @ 11:56 am:

    One more thought. While I can understand the focus on Manufacturing, why isn’t IT included as well in many of the similar surveys I’ve seen recently?

  8. - Whatever - Wednesday, Apr 20, 11 @ 12:07 pm:

    Based on the results for globalization, trade, and China, the Midwest sounds like fertile ground for Donald Trump.

  9. - Anonymous - Wednesday, Apr 20, 11 @ 12:11 pm:

    And to drill down a little bit further, how concerned are Midwesterners regarding the potential consequences of all of our “personal” data and “archived” business know-how re: various processes and procedures going overseas–along with our IT jobs?

  10. - North of I-80 - Wednesday, Apr 20, 11 @ 12:17 pm:

    Were each of the 8 sampled states evenly represented? Curious how Dane Co WI & Detroit responses varied from rural Indiana.

    Wonder which state people answered when asked what state came to mind when asked to respond to the word “corrupt” ?

  11. - Yellow Dog Democrat - Wednesday, Apr 20, 11 @ 12:34 pm:

    @Howe -

    This has nothing to do with public “perception.” The facts on the ground are that the Midwest has lost jobs to NAFTA and other globalization efforts.

    Those 200,000 manufacturing jobs lost in Illinois didn’t just evaporate into the stratosphere…they landed elsewhere.

    As for the poll, Chicago is the unofficial capital of the Midwest, not Des Moines, so the poll results aren’t that surprising…

    …although the focus of presidential politics on the Iowa caucuses probably gives that state a big boost in the standings.

  12. - western illinois - Wednesday, Apr 20, 11 @ 12:48 pm:

    They were worried on Daily Kos about Obamas poll numbers in teh Midwest Looking like the south and here is the reason why. The reason is all the economy in the midwest and the White House has been lost for years. Both sides have been pandering to their corporate overlords and then pandingering on social issues . I would say this isnt fetle ground for Trump -more like Jesse Ventura

  13. - david starrett - Wednesday, Apr 20, 11 @ 12:56 pm:

    Thanks for providing the FULL confidence interval, including the alpha level. On one else in the press ever does that, and it makes me crazy.

  14. - Anonymous - Wednesday, Apr 20, 11 @ 1:12 pm:

    Curious about the term “corporate overlords”.

    Who are they–and are they the same “overlords” who were in place one, two, or three decades ago?

    Serious question. Just wondering how you see it.

  15. - Anonymous - Wednesday, Apr 20, 11 @ 1:27 pm:

    In other words, Western, do you think you might be making a big mistake by assuming that those you call “corporate overlords” today were the same as those in place a few decades ago?

    Just stop for a second to think about even yesterday’s terminology v. today’s: multi-national v. global, overseas divisions v. just another “location”, etc.

    What about being asked whether you’re a citizen when signing in as a guest at Corporate America a while back v. signing in today?

  16. - Louis Howe - Wednesday, Apr 20, 11 @ 1:55 pm:

    Dear Yellow Dog….I agree, Illinois has lost over 200,000 manufacturing jobs since 2000. However, that doesn’t stop Cong. Schock from trumping new trade agreements with Columbia, Korea and traipsing off to China on another “Free Trade” mission. Obviously, Schock and his CAT Executive sponsors have a different perception of the lost manufacturing jobs than the mid-westerners in the Monmouth College poll. CAT’s stock is up 500% over the last 10 years while the starting wage for new UAW workers in Illinois was cut in half. Obviously, our current policy makers perceive that as a good thing. I don’t agree but both parties seem to think what’s good for big business is good for America.

  17. - Anonymous - Wednesday, Apr 20, 11 @ 1:59 pm:

    “…seem to think what’s good for big business is good for America.”

    Bingo. There was a time when what was good for big business WAS good for AMERICA.

    Perhaps some of us are too young to remember and/or those of us who are the “oldsters” now have “selective” memories.

  18. - Anonymous - Wednesday, Apr 20, 11 @ 2:06 pm:

    And, perhaps, some of our policy makers are behaving like middle management in today’s Corporate world who are just tickled over the prospect of visiting a foreign land, absorbing the rich culture there, and having more material to talk about at cocktail parties once they’re back.

  19. - Louis Howe - Wednesday, Apr 20, 11 @ 3:15 pm:

    Actually, Anonymous, “What’s good for big business is good for America” has NEVER been true. Prior to the “New Deal” and reforms like the 40 hour work week, child labor laws, minimum wage, social security, ect…workers were subject to the boom-bust cycles without a safety net or union representation. However, you are correct that it’s gotten much worse over the last thirty years.

    The actual quote comes from former General Motors CEO Charles Wilson during his 1950s senate confirmation hearing when he was asked about a conflict of interest he said: “…I thought what was good for the country was good for General Motors and vice versa.”

    Today, CEO’s make 400 times the average worker; up from 40 times in Wilson’s era and corporations pay 12% of the total tax receipts compared to 22% fifty years ago.

  20. - Cincinnatus - Wednesday, Apr 20, 11 @ 3:27 pm:

    “In summary, economic reasoning alone cannot determine whether FTAs are an advisable path to take to an eventual goal of multilateral free trade. Foreign policy and tactical considerations are also important.”


  21. - 47th Ward - Wednesday, Apr 20, 11 @ 8:10 pm:

    Richard Longworth wrote an excellent book called Caught in the Middle: America’s Heartland in the Age of Globalism.

    He describes the impact of globalization on the midwest and laments the fact that we still aren’t facing reality. All across the region, big cities, small indutrial towns, corporations and universities are facing common problems but won’t dream of working together to address them.

    It’s a fascinating read.

  22. - hisgirlfriday - Thursday, Apr 21, 11 @ 3:59 am:

    Anyone else a little baffled at the trade figures showing a vast majority think free trade has cost the Midwest jobs and brought down wages and yet the Midwest supports free trade over trade restrictions at higher levels than the U.S. as a whole. I mean are there other parts of the country that much more anti-trade than the Midwest?

  23. - Cincinnatus - Thursday, Apr 21, 11 @ 9:44 am:


    While the midwest is often associated with manufacturing, which indeed has taken a significant hit, the midwest is also the center of agriculture and agriculture support products (think tractors). Free trade agreement certainly help exports of these items.

  24. - Sarge - Thursday, Apr 21, 11 @ 10:28 am:

    47th Ward is right on. Longworth’s book is a must read for every Midwestern politician and public policy thinker.

Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.

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