Upper Midwest

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Map of the USA with the Upper Midwest highlighted (as defined by the National Weather Service)

The Upper Midwest is a region in the northern portion of the U.S. Census Bureau's Midwestern United States. It is largely a sub-region of the Midwest. Although the exact boundaries are not uniformly agreed-upon, the region is officially defined as referring to the states of Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Wisconsin.[citation needed]


The National Weather Service defines its Upper Midwest as the states of Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Wisconsin.[citation needed]

The United States Geological Survey uses two different Upper Midwest regions:

  • The USGS Upper Midwest Environmental Sciences Center considers it to be the six states of Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, and Wisconsin, which comprise the watersheds of the Upper Mississippi River and upper Great Lakes.[citation needed]
  • The USGS Mineral Resources Program considers the area to contain Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, and Wisconsin.[citation needed]

The Association for Institutional Research in the Upper Midwest includes the states of Iowa, Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota, Wisconsin, and the upper peninsula of Michigan in the region.[citation needed] According to the Library of Congress, the Upper Midwest includes the states of Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Michigan.[1]


The USDA reported that corn, soybean, sunflower, and sugar beet crops saw harvest gains in 2018, but were still below the five-year averages. In North Dakota, for example, 49% of corn was harvested by November 4 compared with the five-year average of 97%. This was in part due to weather conditions in October that affected the harvest.[2]

Upper Midwest Köppen climate classification (excluding Iowa)


The region has dramatic variations between summer and winter temperatures; summers are very hot; and winters are very cold. For example, Sioux Falls averages 25 days each year with temperatures above 90 °F (32 °C) and 45 days each year with temperatures below 5 °F (−15 °C).[3] Mitchell, South Dakota has a record high of 116 °F (47 °C) and a record low of −39 °F (−39 °C).[4]

The growing season is shorter, cooler, and drier than areas farther south and east. The region's western boundary is sometimes considered to be determined by where the climate becomes too dry to support growing non-irrigated crops other than small grains or hay grass.[citation needed]


The Inland North dialect, most prominently characterized by the Northern Cities Vowel Shift, is centered in the eastern part of the Upper Midwest, including Wisconsin, Michigan, and the northern parts of Illinois and Ohio; it extends beyond the Midwest into Upstate New York. North Central American English (also known as "Upper Midwestern"[5]), a residual[clarification needed] accent of American English, is spoken in Minnesota, parts of Wisconsin and Iowa, the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, portions of Montana, and the Dakotas.[6]


The Upper Midwest was the heartland of early 20th-century Progressive Party politics, and the region continues to be favorable to the Democratic Party and moderate Republicans, with Minnesota favoring each Democratic presidential candidate since 1976 and Wisconsin from 1988 to 2012. Minnesota narrowly supported native Walter Mondale in 1984 in an election where Ronald Reagan won every other state. Michigan, Illinois, and Wisconsin also often favor Democratic candidates. However, beginning with the 2010 midterm elections, Republicans experienced substantial gains in state legislative and executive offices in Iowa, Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Michigan.[7][8][9] This trend has continued through 2016.[10][11][12][8][9][13] Currently there are three Democratic governors in the region (Minnesota, Michigan, and Wisconsin) and three Republican governors (North Dakota, Iowa and South Dakota).[citation needed]

Donald Trump's 2016 presidential campaign made significant in-roads in the Upper Midwest.[14][15][16][17][18][10] Trump won the electoral votes of Iowa, Wisconsin, Michigan, North Dakota, and South Dakota, leaving Illinois and Minnesota the sole Blue States in the Upper Midwest in 2016.[19][14] Hillary Clinton barely won Minnesota, finishing less than 2 percentage points ahead of Donald Trump.[20][21][17][19]

Industry and tourism[edit]

The economy of the region was largely based upon the mining of iron and copper, as well as a very large timber industry. Mechanization has sharply reduced employment in those areas, and the economy is increasingly based on tourism. Popular interest in the environment and environmentalism, added to traditional interests in hunting and fishing, has attracted a large urban audience who live within driving range.[22]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ LOC (2019). Pioneering the Upper Midwest: Books from Michigan, Minnesota, and Wisconsin, ca. 1820-1910. Library of Congress (LOC), 2019. Retrieved from https://www.loc.gov/teachers/classroommaterials/connections/upper-midwest/.
  2. ^ Writer, Jonathan Knutson / Agweek Staff (7 November 2018). "Making progress on crop harvest, but Upper Midwest pace still..." Retrieved 8 November 2018.
  3. ^ "Sioux Falls, South Dakota Travel Weather Averages". Weatherbase.
  4. ^ "Mitchell, South Dakota Travel Weather Averages". Weatherbase.
  5. ^ Allen, Harold B. (1973). The Linguistic Atlas of the Upper Midwest. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press. ISBN 0-8166-0686-2.
  6. ^ Labov, William; Ash, Sharon; Boberg, Charles (2006). The Atlas of North American English. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter. ISBN 3-11-016746-8.
  7. ^ "GOP Makes Historic State Legislative Gains in 2010". Rasmussen Reports. Retrieved 31 July 2018.
  8. ^ a b Lai, K.K. Rebecca. "In a Further Blow to Democrats, Republicans Increase Their Hold on State Governments". The New York Times. Retrieved 31 July 2018.
  9. ^ a b Anderson, Tim (1 December 2016). "GOP continues to gain more legislative seats, control in Midwest states". CSG Knowledge Center. Retrieved 31 July 2018.
  10. ^ a b Enten, Harry (9 December 2016). "It's Not All About Clinton – The Midwest Was Getting Redder Before 2016". FiveThirtyEight. Retrieved 31 July 2018.
  11. ^ Cooper, Michael (3 November 2010). "Republicans Gain Upper Hand at State Level, Ahead of Redistricting". The New York Times. Retrieved 31 July 2018.
  12. ^ Zeleny, Jeff (2 November 2010). "G.O.P. Captures House, but Not Senate". The New York Times. Retrieved 31 July 2018.
  13. ^ Boehm, Eric (14 November 2016). "Democrats Got Wrecked Again in State Legislative Races, and it Matters More Than You Might Think". Reason. Retrieved 31 July 2018.
  14. ^ a b Swanson, Ian (22 August 2017). "How the Midwest slipped away from Dems". The Hill. Retrieved 28 July 2018.
  15. ^ Trende, Sean; Byler, David (19 January 2017). "How Trump Won: The Midwest". RealClearPolitics. Retrieved 28 July 2018.
  16. ^ Fahey, Mark; Wells, Nicholas. "Here's a map of the US counties that flipped to Trump from Democrats". CNBC. Retrieved 28 July 2018.
  17. ^ a b Swanson, Ian (22 August 2017). "How the Midwest slipped away from Dems". The Hill. Retrieved 28 July 2018.
  18. ^ Balz, Dan. "Midwestern voters gave Trump a chance. Now, they hold the key to his political future". The Washington Post. Photographs by Melina Mara, video by Jordan Frasier. Retrieved 28 July 2018.
  19. ^ a b Bentle, Kyle; Berlin, Jonathon; Marx, Ryan. "Illinois, a blue island in a red sea: Data analysis". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 28 July 2018.
  20. ^ Cox, Ana Marie (21 June 2018). "A Night Among the Trump Believers Way Up North". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 28 July 2018.
  21. ^ Gonyea, Don; Montanaro, Domenico (13 April 2017). "Trump Supporters in the Upper Midwest Have A Message: Be More 'Presidential'". NPR. Retrieved 28 July 2018.
  22. ^ Shapiro, Aaron (2015). The Lure of the North Woods: Cultivating Tourism in the Upper Midwest. University of Minnesota Press.

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