The 8th congressional district of Minnesota, located on the US-Canada border, has one of the highest concentrations of iron miners in the country. The Republicans took the Democrats in Tuesday's midterm election amidst a wave of industry driven in part by President Trump's tariffs on China.
The second congressional district in Minnesota, south of the Twin Cities, has a large concentration of soybean producers. Republicans lost this district on Tuesday after the Democratic candidate voiced the idea that the president's trade policy was destroying his farmers.
"Family farmers in our district saw reliable markets disrupted by impulsive and unpredictable trade decisions," Democrat Angie Craig said, dropping Deputy Jason Lewis (R). "I've heard many of the same things: They want a representative who hears their concerns about the instability of the trade war."
Democratic candidates across the country tried to arouse their voters' fear of Trump's trade policy in their election campaigns. In the Senate races, most of the Democrats who tried to run into these feelings lost. However, home matches were much better for such candidates, and they may even have helped pass the Chamber's control to the Democrats, underscoring the mixed political implications of one of the government's most important economic policies.
"It is very clear that, due to the loss of seat in the upper Midwest, the decline in agricultural markets has likely led to the lifting of the GOP majority in plenary," said Joe Brusuelas, economist at RSM, an international accounting firm. "It's hard to imagine that these seats would have been turned over anyway."
In March, Trump rushed to the United States by 25 percent for steel and aluminum imports, followed by two separate rounds of customs clearance – one for $ 50 billion and another for $ 200 billion – for China ,
China, Mexico and other foreign governments have reciprocated by imposing their own tariffs on US exports, in many cases in areas where they could affect the president's domestic assets.
They targeted Midwest-based farms exporting to Chinese markets, Harley-Davidson motorcycles made in the Rust Belt, and even Bourbon, the Senate Majority Leader, Mitch McConnell, of the US state of Kentucky, among others produced by the Republican-controlled states.
In some major races, especially on a national level, these efforts did not materially harm the President or his party. Senator Joe Donnelly (D-Ind.), Who wanted to engage with Trump on immigration and other issues, said the government's trade policy had "gone too far" and injured Indiana companies. He lost 8 points.
Other Senate Democrats met similar fates. Senator Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND), who repeatedly condemned the effects of the trade war on the many soybean farmers in her state, lost double digits. Senator Claire McCaskill (D-Mo) expressed concern that the White House tariffs were about to end a nail maker, but he was easily defeated by Attorney General Josh Hawley (R). An analysis by the New York Times also found that the Republicans had control of 17 of the 25 districts that depend most on agricultural jobs.
"This has been a very rational effort by foreign governments to punish areas of the country that supported Trump, and it simply did not work," said Jock O Connell, economist at Beacon Economics. "These areas were broadly held by the President and its Republican members of Congress."
In other races, several analysts, candidates and campaign workers said, frustrations due to the trade war could have helped outperform the Democratic candidates. They specifically pointed to races along the Upper Mississippi Valley, which includes northwestern Illinois, northeastern Iowa, southeastern Minnesota and southwestern Wisconsin.
Two of Democrat House pickups arrived in Iowa, where Abby Finkenauer beat reigning Republican Rod Blum (R) and Cindy Axne reigning Republican David Young (R). J. D. Scholten, a Democrat against Steve King (R), lost, but came closer than the Democrats in the last cycles against the 15-year-old King.
Farmers in the districts of Iowa, who previously voted for Republicans and backed Trump, were "discouraged and less motivated to vote and vote because of the tariffs this year," said Aaron H. Lehman, president of the Iowa Farmers Union.
"In Iowa, critics of the government's trade policies have done really well in this election," Lehman said. "Some of the Republicans were very critical of the president's attitude, but they had to be very critical – in the end that was also evident on election day."
In the north of Illinois, Democrat Lauren Underwood (32) criticized the effects of Trump's trade war on local soybean farmers and sparked a surprise over an incumbent Republican. In Minnesota, Democrat Dean Phillips defeated GOP incumbent Erik Paulsen in Ward 3, while Democrat Craig beat Lewis in Ward 2 after losing to him in 2016.
"I think it has helped her a lot to support her agriculture," said Kevin Paap, president of the Minnesota Farm Bureau Federation, about Craig's victory over Lewis. "I've heard from members," I like her to understand and support the trade. "
Soybeans are a major US export, especially to China. The tariffs have made Chinese demand "anemic", according to an analysis by the agricultural department. US exports of soybeans to China fell from more than 2.5 million tonnes in September 2017 to 67,000 tonnes in September 2018.
About 61 percent of voters said in a Gallup poll last week that US trade and customs policies are "extremely / very important," although well below health care, economics, immigration, and other issues. In the exit survey, health and not trade were the most important aspects for voters.
There were also some areas where Trump's tariffs could have helped rather than hurt the candidates of his party. The Minnesota Iron Range in the north of the state is in the midst of an "economic upturn," the Minneapolis Star Tribune reported this summer, in part because Trump's tariffs increased the cost of domestic steel and increased profits. This revival played an important role in helping Republican Pete Stauber win a seat Democrats have held since 2011, according to Stauber employees.
"The president's agenda was definitely well received in this mining district," said Stauber press spokeswoman Caroline Tarwid.
Farmers who are "hardened" Trump supporters have been largely unimpressed by appeals that have opted for Democrat trade issues, said Anne Schwagerl, a 33-year-old soybean farmer in Minnesota. In general, she said, Trump voters were convinced by the president's misfortune that the trade war was a temporary measure to create better trade agreements.
However, this argument was less convincing to those who already had doubts about Trump.
"For some moderates bankers will soon have to pay their operating credit, it can be difficult to look beyond the next six to eight months," said Schwagerl. "For anyone who is moderate, it has been hard to buy the argument of" short-term pain for long-term gain. "