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The Upper Midwest is a region in the northern portion of the U.S. Census Bureau's Midwestern United States. It is largely a sub-region of the midwest. Although there are no uniformly agreed-upon boundaries, the region is most commonly used to refer to the states of Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Michigan (especially the Upper Peninsula). By most definitions, it extends into Iowa, North and South Dakota, northern Illinois, eastern Nebraska, and parts of northeastern Montana.
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The National Weather Service defines its Upper Midwest as the states of Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Wisconsin. The United States Geological Survey uses two different Upper Midwest regions:
The Association for Institutional Research in the Upper Midwest includes the states of Iowa, Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota, Wisconsin, and the upper peninsula of Michigan in the region.
The region has among the most extreme variations between summer and winter temperatures in the Western Hemisphere. Summers are very hot and winters very cold. For example, Sioux Falls averages 25 days each year with temperatures above 90 °F (32 °C) and 45 days each year with temperatures below 5 °F (−15 °C). Mitchell, South Dakota has a record high of 116 °F (47 °C) and a record low of −39 °F (−39 °C).
The growing season is shorter, cooler, and drier than areas further south and east. The region's western boundary is sometimes considered to be determined by where the climate becomes too dry to support growing non-irrigated crops other than small grains or hay grass.
North Central American English (also known as "Upper Midwestern"), a residual accent of American English, is spoken in Minnesota, parts of Wisconsin and Iowa, the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, and portions of Montana, and the Dakotas.
The Upper Midwest was the heartland of early 20th century Progressive Party politics, and the region continues to be favorable to the Democratic Party of the United States and moderate Republicans, with Minnesota favoring each Democratic presidential candidate since 1976 and Wisconsin since 1988. Minnesota narrowly supported native Walter Mondale in 1984 in an election where Ronald Reagan won every other state. Michigan, Illinois, and Wisconsin also often favor Democratic candidates. By contrast, the lower Midwest includes swing states such as Ohio, Missouri, and Iowa, and solidly Republican (until 2008) Indiana. The Plains States to the west are heavily Republican in most presidential contests.