While I certainly defer to Phil's intimate knowledge of the Upper Midwest, I think the Democratic reputation of Iowa and Wisconsin is overblown. In the past three presidential elections, both states voted almost exactly as the nation as a whole. The same could be said for 1976 and 1980. In 1984 and 1988, when the Midwestern economy was weak, both states did vote much more Democratic than the nation. George H. W. Bush's law-and-order message probably didn't help him much in states with historically low crime rates and little history of racial tension. But by the 1990's, the regional economy had recovered and other issues had come to the fore. Bill Clinton's personal problems probably lost him some votes in these two decidedly square states. In addition, Iowa and Wisconsin have strongly competitive two-party politics for statewide offices.