You know, your general trope of modern SWPLs not being the descendents of the Puritans doesn't actually hold water. A simple comparison of both genetic and self-reported ancestry (again aforementioned link, partially supplied by you) shows that Democratic voting Whites are only found in areas Puritans settled.I point out Puritan-descendants are numerically insignificant in most of these areas. JayMan:
They don't need to make up a plurality or majority. They just need to be more common there than they are in non-Democratic voting areas, and they are (Mormons excepted).
Now, you can (correctly) point out that this is just a correlation, and may co-vary with the true cause. But if you have any idea what that is, I'm all ears. [. . .]
Look, we can keep running Occam's Razor in reverse and ignore inconvenient facts. Or you could at least try to run with the facts and come up with a plausible alternative explanation. If and when you do that, please let me know.
Let's ignore for the moment that no county-level estimates of Puritan ancestry have actually been derived and the supposed correlation has not been established. The idea that such a correlation could be explained by Puritan-descendants bloc-voting for Obama is fanciful, to say the least. We've already been through this for New England.
Via his post on "Rural White Liberals", JayMan lobs a couple of good examples of why, although demographics and settlement history can be of great interest in understanding the world, the sort of crude analysis that would simply label the Upper Midwest as "Yankee" fails.
The upper Mississippi valley anomaly largely coincides with the unglaciated "Driftless Area", and a common designation for the "Minnesota Arrowhead" region is the "Iron Range". I'll tell you the deal with these two regions shortly.
So what’s the deal with these three regions? Unfortunately, I am only intimately familiar with one of them, [. . .]
First, some comments on Yankee settlement in the Midwest by a more serious researcher than Colin Woodard:
Narrowly defined, Yankeeland in the Middle West is confined to the Western Reserve of Ohio, southern Michigan, southeastern Wisconsin, southern Minnesota, and the central Dakotas; broadly defined it begins with the eastern Ohio apex and then fans out to cover all the territory from central Kansas to the Canadian border. Neither definition is more correct. The distinction is based on the degree of Yankee dominance, and it seems probable that the clearest expression of regional identity will be found in the smaller, inner region (outlined in black in Figure 1). [. . .]Moving our attention back to the Iron Range: here we have a region which was at no point dominated by Yankees, and whose mines were populated by politically radical stoop laborers from Eastern and Southern Europe. But JayMan's razor informs us we should look to the descendants of Puritans to explain voting returns in this area.
A geographer who views the Yankeeland map is likely to ask, What does this map resemble? The northern fringe of Yankee dominance in the Great Lakes states follows the hardwood-coniferous forest transition. Across North Dakota, the dividing line runs just south of the area settled by the Northern Pacific Railroad. The cattle country of western South Dakota seems to be excluded. Yankeeland in Iowa is the northern two or three tiers of countries. The [southern] boundary seems to bend around the Driftless Hill region of Wisconsin. In Ohio only the Western Reserve is included. If this area labeled "Yankeeland" is to be meaningful geographically, it must be demonstrated that something other than place of birth also follows the same regional outline. [. . .]
The northern limit of wheat specialization in Michigan, Wisconsin, and Minnesota coincides closely with the hardwood-coniferous forest transition (Figure 2). To the north the land was poorer, settled later, and when it was settled it was less likely to be cultivated. Forestry was the dominant occupation of the north in the nineteenth century, and those who came to the Upper Great Lakes woods were overwhelmingly from the St. Lawrence region--the northern fringes of New York and Vermont, Upper Canada (Ontario), and the lowlands of Quebec. The "Canadianness" of the Upper Great Lakes is what distinguishes it most clearly from the Yankee belt to the south. Yankees are found in the leading urban centers of the region, but their northward migration clearly slowed to a crawl once the better agricultural lands were left behind. Instead, Yankees followed the prairie ecotone northwest to the Red River valley where they were joined by Canadians from the St. Lawrence zone. Eastern North Dakota became the wheat bonanza of the 1880s. The Northern Pacific Railroad's land grant attracted many to North Dakota from both the Yankee and St. Lawrence zones, including many German- and Norwegian-Americans. St. Lawrence settlers were uncommon in southern North Dakota, but in the rest of the state they rivaled the Yankee in numbers. [. . .]
Yankee Settlement and Politics
The democratic ideals held by Yankees and Midlanders were so similar that to focus on differences may seem unwarranted. A minor point, although pervasive, concerns the role of public buildings in urban design. Both Yankees and Midlanders laid out courthouse towns with city-block squares, but the Yankee seems to have balked at the idea of enshrining government by placing the courthouse on a center square; Midlanders had no such aversion. Therefore a subtle, but rather reliable, marker of the appearance of Yankee dominance is the off-center and sometimes hard-to-find courthouse in the Yankee county seat town.
In Yankee towns the church, the school, and the government had central locations, yet none was more important than the others, and hence none could become a single focus. Instead, the Yankee town centered on business. Prosperity was demonstrated by the massive business blocks built near the major downtown intersection. The practice of setting aside a central common or green, alleged to be important to New Englanders, evidently was forgotten by the nineteenth century. The Yankee town in the Middle West had a focus that was commercial, and the property near its center was almost entirely private; squares, parks, market places, and the like were not included. [. . .]
The Republican party's origin and the region of its greatest strength seem to be plausible consequences of the creation of a Yankee-dominated zone across the Middle West (Hart 1972). The contrast across regional boundaries is especially strong between the Yankee-Republican Middle West and the St. Lawrence zone to the north. The latter has had a history of political localism and radical movements which, although sometimes spawned by Republicans, clearly deviates from the sort of rational, tolerant, small-business oriented Yankee thinking that created and maintained the Republican party.
[JC Hudson. Yankeeland in the Middle West. Journal of Geography, 1986.]
Political Culture in Microcosm: Minnesota’s Iron Range
by Pamela A. Brunfelt
This essay is an analysis of the development of the moralistic political culture on Minnesota’s Iron Range. The idea presented here is that the Iron Range developed a moralistic political culture that was different from the rest of the state of Minnesota largely because of the massive wave of immigrants who settled in northeastern Minnesota between 1884 and 1920. Their struggle to forge a commonwealth that was not dominated by the mining companies resulted in the creation of social and cultural organizations, workers’ halls and labor union locals, and membership in radical political groups. Eventually, however, the New Deal and the Farmer-Labor party pulled the workers into the DFL’s political orbit where the people of the Range have remained for over 70 years. As a result, the political culture on the Range is different from the moralistic political culture in the rest of the state and will probably be resistant to individualistic impulses for some time to come. [. . .]