Analyzing Obama’s Weak Spots – Part 2: The Northeast

This is the second part of three posts analyzing the congressional districts President Barack Obama underperformed in. It will focus on his relative weakness in the northeast. The third part can be found here.

(Note: I strongly encourage you to click the image links on this post when reading; they're essential to understanding what I'm saying.)

The Northeast

In my previous post I created a map of congressional districts in which Mr. Obama performed worse than Senator John Kerry:

Map of Districts in Which Kerry Did Better Than Obama

In this map the most obvious pattern is a roughly diagonal corridor of Republican-shifting congressional districts, stretching from Oklahoma and Louisiana through the Appalachians. This area has long been seen as a place in which the electorate is moving away from the Democratic Party.

The post then looked at the Northeast, another region in which Mr. Kerry did better than Mr. Obama. Unlike Applachia and the Mississippi Delta, the conventional wisdom characterizes the Northeast as a stable Democratic stronghold. Yet, as the map below indicates, six northeastern congressional districts shifted Republican in 2008:

Map of Northeast Districts

Much of the movement in Massachusetts, of course, occurs due to the loss of Mr. Kerry’s home-state advantage. Yet the districts in Massachusetts (MA-4, MA-6, MA-7, MA-9, and MA-10) also share a number of commonalities. All are quite suburban, quite wealthy, and quite white. Unlike the Appalachian districts above, these places vote substantially Democratic. Neither Mr. McCain nor former President George W. Bush came within single-digits in any of these districts (I suspect 1988 was the last time a Republican presidential candidate did so). Yet this is also Scott Brown territory; the Republican candidate won four of these districts.

Notice, too, the highlighted New York district (NY-9). Like those in Massachusetts, this district is inhabited mainly by middle-class, Democratic-voting whites. The effect of 9/11, which convinced many New Yorkers to vote Republican, was particularly strong in places like these (in fact, it was probably greater here than anywhere else in the nation). Orthodox Jews, an increasingly Republican demographic heavily represented in this district, have shifted strongly Republican since then.

Indeed, Long Island as a whole was relatively lukewarm towards Obama. Apart from the fighting ninth, Republicans did respectably in NY-3 and NY-5, holding Obama’s improvement to less than 1% in both districts. Like NY-9, these places are wealthy and suburban.

One wonders whether this change is merely a temporary blip or the start of something more worrisome for Democrats. The case of Florida is probably not reassuring:

Map of Florida Districts

This is Florida’s Gold Coast – a Democratic stronghold – and three districts here (FL-19, FL-20, FL-22) voted more Republican than in 2004. Mr. McCain’s age probably helped him along here; the large population of retirees may have empathized with one of their own.

Ironically, a large number of these retirees probably came from NY-9 or eastern Massachusetts. Like both areas, these districts vote Democratic but have been slowly moving Republican. FL-22 is the exception, having been not very Democratic to begin with. In FL-19 and FL-20, on the other hand, Democratic candidate Al Gore did substantially better than both Obama and Kerry. This was a function of the substantial Jewish population in these districts; Jews strongly supported Joe Lieberman, his Jewish nominee for Vice President.

Fortunately for Democrats, almost none of the Florida or northeast districts represent a 2010 pick-up opportunity for Republicans. Except for FL-22, all have voted Democratic by double-digits for at least three consecutive presidential elections. A few weeks ago a special election in FL-19 resulted in a 27% Democratic margin victory. It is the long-term that is worth concern for Democrats.

In the short term, Democrats must worry about Appalachia and the Mississippi Delta. There Democrats are in deep, deep trouble for 2010. There are a surprising amount of Democratic representatives in these Appalachian seats where Mr. McCain did better than Mr. Bush. Their predicament will be the subject of the next post.



Barack Obama Elementary School

This is an awesome story. Not because this school was actually named for Obama, but because of how it was done and who was behind it.

Personal Note: This school is right next to Hofstra University, my alma mater and I spent time volunteering here as a college student.

Here's the story; mentary.2.870347.html

There's more...

NY-03: Potential GOP Vacancy As Pete King Eyes Senate Run

New York's third congressional district is one of the few remaining congressional districts represented by a Republican that nevertheless tends to lean more Democratic than the nation as a whole in presidential elections. GOP Congressman Peter King is actually quite popular in the Long Island-based district, winning last month with 64 percent of the vote. But the district might not be in Republican hands much longer, with King potentially looking to run for Senate this cycle.

Republican Congressman Peter King, who was a visible and outspoken supporter of Rudy Giuliani during the 2008 campaign, said he's interested in running for Hillary Clinton's Senate seat when it comes up in 2010.

"I am seriously considering the race for Hillary Clinton's seat," King told AP. "I'm very serious about it."

On potentially running against Caroline Kennedy, King, 64, said, "Obviously it would be a challenge to run against Caroline Kennedy. She has the name identification and for all I know she's a wonderful person. But this is not an anti-Kennedy campaign. "Nothing in life is easy. If anything, that makes the adrenaline pump a little harder."

King would be one of the more formidable candidates the Republicans could put up for Senate in 2010 -- but that doesn't mean that he would have much of a shot at victory, particularly given the sorry state of the GOP in New York state these days. What's more, without him running for reelection, the Republicans' hopes of holding NY-3 aren't great or even moderately good.

Now it's certainly true that New York is slated to lose seats in the upcoming round of redistricting, and with the Democrats now controlling the trifecta and likely maintaining that power position through the redistricting process it is very possible that the days of the GOP holding this district, or a similarly drawn district, were already numbered. That said, this news could be beginning of the story that ends with the Republicans holding no seats in New York state in the not-too-distant future.

There's more...

Immigrant Freeloaders No More

Last week, Nassau County legislators held a hearing to explore a key question these days: Do Latinos on have a positive or negative bottom line impact on the Long Island economy?

The resounding answer was... (drum roll, please... not just because I work for the Drum Major Institute...) they give more than they take.  $614 per person per year on Long Island, to be exact.  This according to a study conducted by an Adelphi University Professor and the Long Island-based
Horace Hagedorn Foundation

There's more...

NY Voter Registration Data and Congressional Districts

From the diaries, again. Dave has been on fire lately--Chris

New York Democrats enjoy a huge voter registration edge over the state's Eepublicans with 5,489,521 Democrats (63.6% of the two party total) versus 3,143,233 Republicans.  New Yorkers have been willing to give Republicans the keys to the governor's mansion and NY City Hall but not Presidential electors and increasingly not US Senate or House seats.  In 1994, Democrats held just 16 of the 31 House seats in New York.  Today that figure is 20 of 29 and iot may well get more Democratic.  How "fair" is this division?  What, if anything do district registration numbers say about the 2006 elections?

Congressional districts appear to be devised to give each party a split close to its statewide share of two party voters.  Democrats have more voters in 18 districts and Republicans enjoy the edge in 11 with one district having a meager 573 registration edge.  Proportioning the seats according to voter registration would give Democrats 18.44 seats and Republicans 10.56 seats.  Of course, this is a very tale mathematical exercise.  NY's congressional districts were devised to protect incumbents with each party losing a seat after the last census.  How do these districts look?

Oddly, the districts are skewed very badly in favor of the Republicans.  Democrats hold a 72.7% to 27.3% two-party edge in their 20 districts which include two majority Republican districts on Long Island, NY-1 and NY-3 having clear Republican edges and a third Long Island seat held by the Democrats has the aforementioned 573 registration Republican edge with over 325,000 voters registered in one of the parties.  Republican districts are clearly less Republican than Democratic districts are Democratic with an overall 56.1% Republican share of two party registrations.

There's more...


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