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We Mapped ‘the Midwest’ for You, So Stop Arguing

We surveyed more than 12,000 people (and counting) about the most contentious border question in the U.S. to reveal the true geography of America’s midsection.   
Hello, Heartland: Here's where you said 'the Midwest' lives. Areas in dark green had 80 percent or more of respondents calling them Midwestern. Light green areas had 50 to 80 percent calling them Midwestern, while yellow were 20 to 50 percent and red 5 to 20 percent.
Hello, Heartland: Here's where you said 'the Midwest' lives. Areas in dark green had 80 percent or more of respondents calling them Midwestern. Light green areas had 50 to 80 percent calling them Midwestern, while yellow were 20 to 50 percent and red 5 to 20 percent.David Montgomery/CityLab

At a time when it can seem Americans have never been more divided, one issue stirs up passions like no other. I speak, of course, of the definition of “the Midwest.”

Delineating that great vast middle of the country—interior but definitely not Southern, west of the Northeast, but not the West—isn’t just a matter of parochial concern to the tens of millions of Americans with ties to the region. It also speaks to an abiding fascination of our current political moment: trying to pin down some romanticized “Heartland.” This term is often invoked to suggest a simpler, more agrarian, and often more virtuous place than whatever else the Midwest is being compared to at any given moment.