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Trying To Define The True Midwest: It’s Not Easy

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By John Dodge

CHICAGO (CBS) — With apologies to the Founding Fathers, one truth we hold to be self-evident is that Illinois is part of the Midwest.

Right?

Maybe not.

The data analysts at FiveThirtyEight surveyed 1,357 people who identified themselves as Midwesterners.

Those people were asked to name the states that they identified as being part of the Midwest.

A total of 81 percent said Illinois.

But what of the other 19 percent?

Did they simply forget the most quintessential of Midwestern states, with the most quintessential Midwestern American City. How much more Middle America can you get?

Or does it mean that there really isn’t a clear line of boundaries for what is considered the Midwest?

“One potential, albeit anecdotal, source of this? Several self-proclaimed Midwestern sources I spoke with have a very limited definition of the Midwest: namely, their state and any state bordering it,” wrote FiveThirtyEight lifestyle writer Walt Hickey. “Minnesotans thought they made up the true Midwest; Hoosiers thought they did. I can’t say either way.”

The data also showed that some people consider the Midwest to be much larger than one might expect.

Some of those polled included western states like Colorado, Wyoming and Montana in the Midwest.