• A Field Guide to

    Red and Blue America

    Red & Blue map of America

    The electoral map is many shades of Republican and Democrat—and always shifting. Which states have moved to the middle, and which are slipping out of reach for the opposition party?

    Published July 25, 2016 at 5:30 a.m. ET

    The country is more than just red states and blue states. Some former battlegrounds have moved to the sidelines. Other once reliably Republican or Democratic states have come into play as the composition of their electorates change.

    One way to gauge partisan tilt is by using a partisan voter index, which measures how many points more Republican or Democratic a state is than the nation overall, based on the two-party share of the vote. Since it is a relative measure, a state like Florida—which Democrats won in 2008 and 2012—appears slightly Republican leaning because Democrats’ margin of victory there was smaller than the national popular vote.

    Here’s a look at how Republican or Democratic each state has been from 1980 to 2012.

    THE PERENNIAL SWING STATES

    the perennial swing states

    There’s good reason why these states get outsize attention every four years, particularly the big electoral prizes of Ohio and Florida. Since 1980, every presidential winner has carried at least three of these four states. And all four have averaged within two points of the national vote over the 1992-2012 period.

    Both Florida and Ohio have tilted slightly more Republican than the nation overall in recent years. But Donald Trump’s comments on immigration and his focus on the ethnic background of a federal judge presiding over a case involving Trump University could mobilize Hispanics, who represent one in five voters in Florida, to turn out against him. Meanwhile, Mr. Trump’s appeal to white working-class voters could resonate in Ohio. If those two states fall in different directions this November it would be just the second split outcome for the pair since 1944. (Bill Clinton carried Ohio while George H.W. Bush won Florida in 1992.)

    THE NEW BATTLEGROUNDS

    The new battlegrounds

    These four states—two in the South, two in the Mountain West—are the best examples of how shifting demographics have remade the electoral map. Between 1968 and 2004 Nevada went Democratic just twice, in 1992 and 1996, and Colorado just once (1992). But President Obama carried both states by comfortable margins in both 2008 and 2012. These states’ rapidly growing Hispanic populations have helped drive the trend clearly in Democrats’ favor, so they may not stay battlegrounds for long.

    Virginia and North Carolina were solidly Republican for a generation until Mr. Obama carried both states in 2008. The latter still tilts more Republican than the nation overall—the state moved back into the GOP column in 2012—but the trend is clearly toward a more evenly divided state. The rapidly expanding and diversifying DC suburbs have altered Virginia’s electoral profile considerably.

    CASTING ABOUT THE GREAT LAKES

    Casting about the great lakes

    For decades Michigan and Pennsylvania were considered key swing states. From 1952 to 1996, the former sided with the national popular-vote winner 10 out of 12 times, while the latter did so 11 out of 12. But neither state has backed a Republican for president since 1988.

    While Wisconsin has flirted with GOP presidential contenders in recent years—Democrats won the state by less than a quarter-point in 2000 and less than a half-point in 2004— it last sided with Republicans in 1984. Even in 2012, with Wisconsin native Paul Ryan on the ticket, Republicans lost the state by seven points. Minnesota hasn’t gone red since 1972, but the state has been trending in Republicans’ direction. That pattern may have to continue for another cycle or two, though, before the state comes into play.

    THE COASTAL STRETCH

    the coastal stretch

    Early in the campaign Mr. Trump vowed to compete in his home state of New York as well as the West Coast. Ronald Reagan carried all four states in both of his winning campaigns. But by 1988 all but California had turned blue, and the Golden State followed suit four years later. Since then no Republican has prevailed in any of them. In 2000 Oregon was the fifth closest state in the nation, with Democrat Al Gore winning by less than a half point. But both it and Washington have been clearly trending Democratic since.

    New York and California, two of the biggest prizes with 84 electoral votes between them, would be much steeper hills for a Republican to climb. Both have shown a strong and steady shift to blue. In his 2008 and 2012 victories, President Obama carried California by 24 points; in New York, he won by 27 and 28 points, respectively.

    ON THE HORIZON

    on the horizon

    Democrats have been eyeing a number of states that haven’t gone their way in decades. Arizona may represent the best opportunity. The state had been moving Democrats’ way, a trend halted only by the presence of Arizonan John McCain at the top of the ticket in 2008. (The charts are based on a two-election moving average, so McCain’s turn as the GOP nominee also affects the 2012 data.)

    Georgia may be the next best opportunity for Democrats. Bill Clinton carried the state in 1992, but since then it’s been solidly Republican. But a growing Hispanic population and an influx of African-Americans migrating from northern states could mean the state has reached a tipping point. Mississippi could also be set to follow suit, if a few cycles behind Georgia, as the non-Hispanic white share of the electorate is poised to drop below 60%. It last voted Democratic in 1976. Lastly, Texas is viewed by many as an opportunity for Democrats down the line, with its growing pool of Hispanics. But the key to Democrats’ hopes will be getting more of the state’s Latinos to register and vote.

    Note: Charts based on the partisan voting index (PVI), which measures how each state voted in the presidential election relative to the nation as a whole, on a rolling two-election average. Washington, D.C., is charted on a different scale due to its strong Democratic lean.

    Sources: WSJ analysis of election results via U.S. House of Representatives Office of the Clerk

    http://graphics.wsj.com/elections/2016/field-guide-red-blue-america/

    Posted by Dana West @ 7:48 am for Adams County Politics, Colorado politics, Denver area politics, Elections, Issues, National politics |

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