National media do the Minnesota swing

On Nov. 3, voters will elect either incumbent Donald Trump or challenger Joe Biden as President of the United States.

Biden holds a wide lead in the popular vote according to national polling, but it’s actually the Electoral College vote that determines the winner. That’s why American presidential elections become a mishmash of individual state contests, governed by unique local laws and sometimes decided by tiny margins in far-flung regions. 

Far-flung regions? Hey, that’s my jam. With Minnesota now listed among the state contests that could determine the winner, everyone wants to know what’s happening on the ground. And because Minnesotans react to fast-talking national news reporters with the same warmth and candor as a pile of lawn clippings, those reporters need a local connection. Upon engaging the Google, they find yours truly here at the truly far-flung MinnesotaBrown World Headquarters in Balsam Township, Minnesota.

Today I appeared on The Hill Rising, a national online political broadcast of note. You can see the video at the top of this page or follow this link to the whole show. It’s my current assessment of the race in Minnesota. 

I also talked to reporters from the Times of London, NBC News, The Daily Yonder, all just this week. If this is anything like the last couple elections I expect I’ll get a couple dozen more calls between now and the election.

Hey, I like to talk. And I’ve got opinions. But this doesn’t make me special. Iron Range mayors, or at least the ones who endorsed Trump, enjoyed a week of open invitations to appear on Fox News primetime programming. Heck, Eveleth Mayor Bob Vlaisavljevich spoke to the Republican National Convention last month. These little mining towns with a few thousand people a pop are sure punching above their weight.

I wish I could say this was because the Mesabi Iron Range commands respect, investment, and admiration from the outside world. But really we get these calls because of symbolism. Polling in Minnesota runs similar to Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania. Biden will probably win them. However, if his coalition of urban and suburban voters falters then Trump’s commanding lead in the rural areas could help him take all four. The Iron Range provides a story that supports this narrative, irrespective of polling. Polling, of course, remains consistent, boring, and refutes the narrative entirely.

Fixing the Range, healing its wounds and lifting up its people are hard. Industrial automation and the gig economy advance with unwavering tenacity. But short-hand narratives and soundbites are easy. And if those narratives can be used to swing votes in other parts of the country. Or (as in my case) drive ratings to horse race political programming, well, all the better, at least for the people in charge.

I don’t think any of use will enjoy such attention come middle of next year. Rather, we’ll settle back into the uncomfortable confines of reality. But hey, party while you can. And I do enjoy The Hill Rising; it uses an unconventional approach to the format and often surprises. 

Back to the book … some news on that soon. 




  1. I hope this leads to more national interviews. I like your point about the narrative. It’s so often about interpretation instead of a full picture of reality.

  2. That was awesome. Incisive and insightful analysis. Great economic and historical perspective. Love hearing that subtle northern MN accent. I wish more metro DFLers would listen to things like and try to understand the Iron Range better.

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