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From the Northwest Ordinance to Trump's big Midwest win

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The key dates in shaping the attitudes in the Outstate Midwest are 1787, 1854 and 1937. (AP Photo/Kiichiro Sato)

The big surprise in the 2016 election results came in the Midwest—in the Outstate Midwest, as I dubbed it in this Washington Examiner column one week after the election, and I described it further in this column published November 30. I define Outstate Midwest as that part of the region outside metropolitan areas with a population of 1 million or more.

Was this just a fluke, or did the Trump success in the Outstate Midwest have historic roots? Faithful readers may not be surprised that I think it has historic roots, and I have tried to put it in historical perspective, in an article published by American Enterprise Institute, where I'm a resident fellow, which is based on a lecture I delivered to the Midwestern History Association at its annual meeting in Grand Rapids in June. I argue that some of the reasons Donald Trump ran better than other recent Republicans in the Outstate Midwest are also some of the reasons Barack Obama ran better there than other recent Democrats.

I won't provide any further explanation, except to say that, in my view, the key dates in shaping the attitudes in the Outstate Midwest are 1787, 1854, and 1937. To see why, read the whole thing.