February 9, 2024

Middle West Review Releases Results of New Poll

on Midwestern Boundaries

–8,000 People Surveyed in Missouri,

Ohio, Colorado, and South Dakota–

Vermillion, SD – The journal Middle West Review, in cooperation with Emerson College Polling, recently completed a second round of surveys focused on determining which Americans self-identify as Midwesterners. The new survey follows-up on an October 2023 survey and drills down deeper into four particular states which are located near regional boundaries: Colorado, Missouri, Ohio, and South Dakota. 2,000 Coloradans and 2,000 South Dakotans were asked if they lived in the Midwest, Great Plains, or West; 2,000 Ohioans were asked if they lived in the Midwest, the South, or Appalachia; and 2,000 Missourians were asked if they lived in the Midwest or the South.

The results of the survey strongly confirm the Midwestern identity of Missouri and Ohio, the mostly Midwestern identity of South Dakota, and the Western tilt of Colorado. 94.3% of Missourians surveyed said they lived the Midwest and 5.7% said the South. 87.2% of Ohioans surveyed said they lived in the Midwest. 9% said Appalachia and 3.9% said the South. 66.3% of South Dakotans said they lived in the Midwest, 30.5% the Great Plains, and 3.3% the West. 65.1% of Coloradans said they lived in the West, 26.2% the Midwest, and 8.8% the Great Plains.

“These two large-scale surveys demonstrate the strength and persistence of Midwestern identity and they help us to better see the boundaries of the Midwest,” said Jon Lauck, Editor-in-Chief of Middle West Review. “Roughly 90% of Ohioans and Missourians embrace their place as Midwesterners in states that, in the past, have been thought to be on the edges of the region or more divided than they now appear. At the same time, important nuances can be detected in the data, such as the southeastern Appalachian edge of Ohio. Also, while Eastern South Dakota remains strongly Midwestern and oriented toward Iowa and Minnesota, the Western half includes a noticeable Plains identity and a small Western alignment. The Western character of Colorado shines through in this new poll, but so does a Midwestern identity in the areas next to Kansas and Nebraska. There is less of a Plains inclination in Colorado than I expected. The brushes of Southern-ness can also be seen in the polling results for the southeastern bootheel of Missouri wedged between Tennessee and Arkansas.”

In early October 2023, Middle West Review and Emerson College Polling surveyed 22,000 Americans in 22 states asking them if they identified as Midwestern. To the traditional 12-states of the Midwest were added 10 border states to better determine regional boundaries. 97% of people in states such as Iowa and Minnesota, not surprisingly, said they lived in the Midwest. 78% of Ohioans said they lived in the Midwest, a surprisingly low number which prompted the inclusion of Ohio in the second poll with a larger sample of Ohioans. 42% of Coloradans said they lived in the Midwest, a surprisingly high number which prompted the inclusion of Colorado in the second poll. Since some commentators see Missouri as more Southern than other Midwestern states it was also included for further examination. Since some commentators see South Dakota as partially Western or as part of the Great Plains it was included in the second poll. The October 2023 poll only asked respondents if they lived in the Midwest or considered themselves Midwesterners. The January 2024 poll gave respondents more options to choose from to add nuance to the data: Midwest, South, Appalachia, Great Plains, West.

More information on the October 2023 poll can be found here: https://emersoncollegepolling.com/middle-west-review-and-emerson-college-polling/

The January 2024 polls of Colorado, Ohio, Missouri and South Dakota were conducted between January 23-January 28, 2024. 2,000 individuals were surveyed in each state. The data sets were weighted by gender, age, party, race, and education. Data was collected by contacting a list of landlines via Interactive Voice Response (IVR), along with an online panel provided by Alchemer. 

The data is intended to be open source and designed to promote discussion of regional boundaries. The data can be viewed here: https://nebraskapressjournals.unl.edu/middle-west-review-midwestern-survey/

Middle West Review is based at the University of South Dakota and is published by the University of Nebraska Press.

For more information, contact:

Jon Lauck

Middle West Review

University of South Dakota


Camille Mumford

Communications Director

Emerson College Polling

(215) 317-5873