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We admit it, we’ve been a little poll-obsessed lately. But last week, a poll caught our attention that had nothing to do with the upcoming GOP primaries in Michigan and Ohio. The poll was done by Public Policy Polling and it basically ranks U.S. states based on popularity.

Turns out, the Midwest didn’t do so hot. No Midwestern states were in the top 10, and Illinois had one of the lowest scores of all states. But buried deep in the data, we noticed that opinions of states varied hugely depending on who was being polled. And, since we spend a lot of time in the Midwest talking about how to attract young people, we wondered how the poll results would be different if you just looked at people aged 18-29. So we put together some charts. As you can see, the results are a little surprising. Tennessee? Really?


Rosalyn Park of Minnesota writes:

My parents emigrated from South Korea to Iowa in the early 1960s. My mother struggled with the dualities of raising children the American-born way and being the wife of a traditional Korean man. Every night, she would cook two dinners: a Korean meal for my father, and an American one for us girls.

Over time, as my tastes expanded, I grew to truly appreciate Korean food.

One tradition in particular really epitomizes this shift. Growing up, my mother would make traditional Korean potstickers (mandu) once a year. It was a huge ordeal—everything was made by hand. We’d sit down and make mandu for hours.

Being the last of 3 daughters, I eventually found myself facing this daunting task alone. I’d come home from high school to see the big mandu bowl and be filled with dread—it was like a bad Chinese movie: Night of Three Million Eggrolls. I’d sit at the kitchen counter, hand stuffing each mandu by myself and thinking wearily of the unfair plight handed to Sister Number 3.

Eventually, though, as I went away to college and moved out of the house, my mother turned the mandu-making into a special event. Since we all came home for Christmas, she decided we would make it for the holidays.

To top it off, my Buddhist-born mother—now a converted Catholic—went out and bought Santa hats, which she forced us each to wear as we made mandu.

Over the years, our Christmas making mandu tradition has expanded, and we now invite close friends to participate in the event, open a bottle or two of wine, and make merry.

It’s actually become a fun tradition that I look forward to, and this year, I found myself rearranging my holiday schedule so I could get home and be there to make mandu.


Gigi Durham and Robin Johnson at Robin’s graduation ceremony.

Name: Robin Johnson
Midwest Home: Iowa City, Iowa
New Home: Houston, TX

I moved from Iowa City, Iowa, to the Houston metropolitan area after receiving my Ph.D. in May 2010.

My job-hunting strategy in 2009 was to only apply to places where I thought the quality of life and ideal tenure-track position would be excellent. My strategy did not pay off, and I put it down to trying to find a job in an abysmal job market. In 2010, I changed tactics, and I applied to 50 places. I would say most of these job opportunities were not in ideal locations, such as Mississippi, South Carolina, southern Indiana, Peoria, rural Georgia, and Anchorage. I would have gladly moved to any of those. Being single excused me from having to tell a partner, “Guess what, we’re moving to Anchorage!” I tipped the scale toward economic opportunity in 2010.

I moved to advance my career, so in the economic sense the move has been beneficial.

In terms of quality of living, I don’t think it is better. Iowa City was an ideal liberal Midwestern college town with many services within walking distance of my apartment. Although Houston has more to offer in terms of arts and entertainment, it is a sprawling, automobile-dependent city. Iowa is progressively superior as well in terms of marriage equality and reproductive choice.