Meet Prinsburg, Minnesota's most conservative city

prinsburgsign.jpg
Wikimedia Commons/Deanlaw

If you wanted to find the most conservative city in Minnesota, you'd probably start by looking in the sixth congressional district, the area right above Minneapolis that's still represented by Rep. Michele Bachmann and has a large evangelical population.

Surprisingly, however, you'd be pretty far away. In fact, according to newly released data from the analytics firm Clarity Campaign Labs, Minnesota's most conservative city is Prinsburg, a tiny city located about 90 miles due west of Minneapolis.

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"Oh yeah, it's real small," says Harvey Van Eps, a 50-year resident of the city who's also served as mayor for the past two decades. "But we're very strong, with our own private school. We have two churches...we try to, basically, run a quite tight ship on keeping the yards cosmetically neat and housing cosmetically neat and basically try to keep our taxes very much in line."

What stands out first in the city are the two, large Christian reform churches for a population of less than 500 people. That religious dedication doesn't just end inside the church, though. It can be seen across Prinsburg, even on the city's sign, which reads "Prinsburg: The Lord is My Shepherd." And on the Kandiyohi County website, the city is described as a place where "faith and family are very important."

Van Eps said those sorts of conservative values influence how he and his council run the town.

"We do run it to be conservative," Van Eps said. "The policies - we're not letting casinos or anything like that or bars or liquor stores. And we have a policy that yards should be neat, and once we got into this groove of everything being neat and clean, the guys with a ratty yard - we'll tell him to clean things up and normally he will."

But the church isn't the only thing that influences the city's residents. Sen. Lyle Koenen (DFL-Clara City), who represents Prinsburg, has visited the city since he was a child, growing up only a few miles away. And when he stops in now to talk to residents, he doesn't just hear about social issues, but fiscal ones, too.

"When I come through town, I always hear a mixture of things," Koenen says. "And it can be abortion or marriage issues. But a lot of taxes, and regulation, too. Mostly to be left alone."

Koenen says that while he may not agree with the residents on most issues, he's always impressed by just how dedicated they are to their beliefs.

"I know me, running as a Democrat, isn't real high on their lists, but I will say that the people in town there know why they're conservatives," Koenen said. "Sometimes you get people who go either way who aren't really sure. But in this case, they know why they're conservatives."

In the 2012 election, more than 90 percent of Prinsburg's voters cast their presidential ballots for Mitt Romney, and in every other race that pitted a Republican against a Democrat, more than 75 percent leaned towards the GOP.

Clarity Campaigns Lab determined Prinsburg's conservative credentials by using a seven-question survey to get voters' views, combined with its own models and the voter file from the data and technology firms TargetSmart and NGP Van.

Minnesota's most liberal city, meanwhile, was Minneapolis, a city that, by all accounts, is more well-known than Prinsburg.

--Follow Robbie Feinberg on Twitter at @robbiefeinberg or send tips to rfeinberg@citypages.com


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81 comments
Cole Young
Cole Young

I commend them for sticking to their beliefs.

Theresa Bruckner
Theresa Bruckner

I love how a full half of the discussion of their values in this article centered on their lawns. When Would Jesus Mow? (Answer: EVERY WEEKEND LIKE CLOCKWORK UNLESS WE GOT A GOOD RAIN AND THEN ALSO ON TUESDAY TOO.)

Jeremy Deysach
Jeremy Deysach

What makes me closed minded you ignorant little prat. Now go make me a sandwich.

Andre Osvold
Andre Osvold

I see a lot of your friends on Facebook need prayer.

Tim Cheesebrow
Tim Cheesebrow

Can they have a faith based city motto? Isn't there a church state separation problem there?

bradradio
bradradio

These comments are worse than this non sequitur article. You're comparing apples to oranges. Let Prinsburg have it's ways, they aren't affecting you. In a town of 500, it's just as easy to change something as it is to leave.

Abby LaPlante
Abby LaPlante

Ha I drive through this town to get to my childhood home. They would hate me if I actually stopped.

Nathan Conley
Nathan Conley

Nothing says conservative like lawn regulations, and prohibition of bars and gambling.

yourpoprock
yourpoprock

Everyone posting above me and below me is a fool.

Nick Davis
Nick Davis

Will forever be in your debt for that experience, Jamie!

Jamie Bn
Jamie Bn

Glad I could give you that claim to fame Nick Davis! ;)

Nick The Trik Patrick
Nick The Trik Patrick

Also, any city that lets me snowboard down the street behind a Buick is ok in my book.

Chris Gliedman
Chris Gliedman

Conservative? They sure spend a lot of time using the government to tell people how to live their lives.

Mary King
Mary King

Odd... But okay.... Even the name sounds conservative. I assume the people who choose to live there, chose to live there. It would give me the willies as I prefer Mpls. To each their own.

mav198
mav198

The somalis do have their own town, its just down the street -- willmar

Andrew Ainsley
Andrew Ainsley

I wonder how the residents feel about the yard regulators? Irony is lost on these people.

ron.fresquez
ron.fresquez topcommenter

Probably a hotbed for "Italian Wrestling."

ron.fresquez
ron.fresquez topcommenter

In the 2012 election, more than 90 percent of Prinsburg's voters cast their presidential ballots for Mitt Romney,.........................Not the sharpest knives in the drawer. Typical 6th district low intelligence and low information voters.

Alirox
Alirox

Sorry, I don't have my glasses with me but is that the Playboy bunny head on the sign?

liberal
liberal

I'll make sure to go around this hole of right wing hypocrisy if I find myself getting close

Nick Davis
Nick Davis

In defense of Prinsburg, it's almost more that of an intentional community, rather than a city. It's not somewhere any normal person would just "decide" to go live. Usually, you are attracted if you want all of the above: strong Christian roots, shared conservative views, your kid to go to Christian school, neighbors with tidy lawns. It's really not comparable to Minneapolis at all. if 3-4 "very liberal" families moved to prinsburg, it could sway the numbers by a few percentage points. Whereas it wouldn't be a drop in the bucket in Minneapolis. I feel this data would be better defined by county, rather than by city/town (Kandiyohi would still win for most conservative)

mingtran
mingtran topcommenter

Because City Pages is such a fair, balanced, unbiased bastion of journalistic excellence, I'm sure we'll see an article tomorrow about all the dumb shit that goes on in MN's most liberal city....

BizkitNGravy
BizkitNGravy

This is pretty typical. They don't want the government to tell them what to do but they let a book of fables run their lives. Anyone who doesn't follow the rules of this book is considered an outcast.

kurt124
kurt124 topcommenter

@ron.fresquez Ron, don't you know that Democrats contain far more Low information voters:  The JZ, Beyoncé, Kardashian fans that think Obama "cares so much about them.."

The Labor Party:  Where it is Unions that contribute more $ to democrat campaigns than any single other.   Where collective bargaining is the result of the unholy alliance Democrats and Unions.  You think the base of Democrat Morons are more highly educated than Democrats? 

Seriously, do you really think that the small towns in this country are less educated than the larger metro areas that continually elect Democrats for free stuff.   You are a sadly misinformed person. 

Jeff55414
Jeff55414

@ron.fresquez Except these people don't live in the 6th district. When you call someone "low information", you might want to read the whole article first before you cast the stone. Because it...ya know....kind of makes you look "low information."

yourpoprock
yourpoprock

Not sure who you are to judge who is normal...

liberal
liberal

@mingtran Curious what you take issue with here? This doesn't appear to be any kind of hit job to me. 

MicheleBachmann
MicheleBachmann topcommenter

@liberal @mingtran ming is a right wing cry baby.  He likes to pretend conservatives are victims all the time because he is a stupid loser that loves to indulge in loser talk.   

Propding
Propding

I was wondering the same thing - the article seems to put the city in a fairly nice light. Sounds liek a clean and quiet town. 

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