The Eisenhower win makes sense, historically - he was still one of the moderate Republicans, he was a war hero, we were in the Korean War still, and Truman initially wanted him to be President (though that turned sour as Eisenhower had issue with the Democrats in that era).
Nixon also made sense at the time - he was the incumbent, he was a moderate Republican, McGovern was too outspoken in his opposition to the Vietnam War, Nixon brokered a better peace with China and the USSR ("there's an old Vulcan Proverb: 'only Nixon could go to China'").
And the Progressive Party was very progressive for its era, with a number of ideals that farmers and labourers would easily get behind.
It seems to me that historically, Minnesota has historically been a Progressive-voting state for President. Progressive GOP 1860-1908, Bull-Moose 1912, Progressive GOP 1916-1928, New Deal Democrats 1932-1948, Moderate/Progressive GOP 1952-1956, Liberal/Progressive Democrats 1960-1968, Moderate/Progressive GOP 1972, Liberal/Progressive Democrats 1976-Date. That looks like a trend to me.
But now, though, we are becoming even more polarized in our political process. Just watch a video of the Kennedy/Nixon debate and compare that to the Clinton/Trump debate that was last week. Hell, watch all of the videos from then to now, and keep an eye on how the Democrats and the GOP have become more extreme in their views (as have the Libertarians and the Green Party), and how that is changing the turnout in rural Minnesota versus Urban Minnesota.
For those who are curious, in 2012, Minnesota's popular vote for President was:
After I wrote all of that out, I then said that "that was my very long-winded way of saying that I agree. Great article, Jeff."
Another friend of mine pointed out that it is important to remember that Nixon got all but one state in 1972 (not including the one faithless elector in Virginia that went for Hospers/Nathan). She said that "it's probably more of a testament to McGovern was than anything;" the fact that the rest of the country overwhelmingly voted for Nixon (he got 60.67% of the popular vote) makes the fact that Minnesota's electors went for him less remarkable. I agree with her, but at the same time I must also point out that Nixon was a moderate Republican. Some would even say a liberal Republican, what with his pushing for the EPA, the Clean Air Act, OSHA, health insurance reform, and the Equal Rights Amendment. But that's another story for another post.
The State of Minnesota has a social liberal political party called the "Minnesota Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party," or "DFL" for short. The DFL formed back in 1944, when the Minnesota Democratic Party (a third-party in Minnesota) and the Minnesota Farmer-Labor party (a respectable party, having had 3 governors, 4 senators, and 9 representatives) merged into one. Minnesota was firmly Republican for a very long time before then - granted, nationally, the Republican Party was still the Progressive Party, as the party realignment didn't start until the 40s and really hit its stride in the 60s (conservatism and Republicanism became seen as truly one around the time Reagan became President of the United States).
The DFL in the 40s would have meshed well with the New Deal Democrats in Washington, with the ideals that they had put forward. It still aligns perfectly. Plus how the Farmer-Labor Party leaned more Social-Moderate, it makes sense that they'd swing towards those who were more Progressive politically.
Getting back on track here, Jeff said that "Minnesota's PVI has gradually decreased over the years, falling from its status as a Democratic stronghold in the 1980s to a slight lean during the administrations of presidents George W. Bush (R) and Barack Obama (D)." The Cook Partisan Voter Index tracks electoral leanings, and Minnesota's PVI score has been getting closer to even since the 1980s. During this last election, Clinton got 46.9% of the state's vote, while 45 got 45.4% of the state's vote. That's cutting it damn thin.
Minnesota's 2017 elections will likely be uninteresting. But the 2018 elections will likely be very telling, and depending on how they go and on what factors happen to society and the economy, we might see Minnesota becoming a swing state in either the 2020 election or the 2024 election.
Articles about Nixon being a liberal or moderate Republican:
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