What Conventional Wisdom Doesn't Tell You

Several days after the 2008 presidential election, the New York Times produced a famous map of voting shifts since 2004.  Most politics buffs have seen this map; according to it, Appalachia “voted more Republican, while the rest of the nation shifted more Democratic.”

There is something else occurring here, however, which the map hides – and which almost nobody has perceived. This trend goes strongly, strongly against conventional wisdom.

To unearth this trend, let’s move back one election – to former Vice President Al Gore’s 2000 tie with former President George W. Bush. Here are the states he performed best relative to President Barack Obama. In all these, Mr. Gore did at least five percent better than Mr. Obama.

By and large, these states are what one would expect. All are located in the midst of Appalachia or the Deep South, regions rapidly trending Republican. All were fairly unenthused by Obama’s themes sounding change and hope.

Here are the remaining states in which Gore improved upon Obama:

This result is something quite different. Arizona – Senator John McCain’s home state – is not surprising, nor is Appalachian Kentucky.

Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and New Jersey, on the other hand – these constitute core Democratic strongholds. The vast majority of pundits would characterize them as becoming more Democratic, if anything at all. Indeed, there has been much ballyhoo about the Northeast’s Democratic shift – how Republicanism is dead in the region, how every single New England congressman is a Democrat, how Obama lost only a single county in New England.

That Al Gore performed more strongly than Barack Obama in Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and New Jersey runs strongly against this hypothesis. Remember, too, that Obama won the popular vote by 7.3% while Gore did so by only 0.5%. If the two had ran evenly, this trend would have been far more pronounced. The state in which Obama improved least upon Gore, for instance, was not Alaska or Mississippi – but New York, where Gore did only 1.88% worse than Obama. The map below indicates this:

Much of the movement derives from the Republican candidates in 2000 and 2008. George Bush was a terrible fit for northeastern voters, with his lack of intellectual depth and cowboy persona. John McCain, on the other hand, was a man many northeasterners admired – he had a strong brand of independence and moderation, which the campaign tarnished but did not destroy. McCain was a person New England Republicans could feel comfortable voting for – and they did. (Fortunately for Democrats, there are not too many Republicans left in the Northeast.)

All in all, the Northeast’s relative movement right constitutes a very surprising trend. Few people would anticipate that Al Gore did better than Barack Obama in Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and New Jersey. It defies conventional wisdom and the common red-blue state dynamic, which holds that the northeast is permanently Democratic. Finally, given increasing political polarization, this relative trend the other way probably is a good thing for the country.

--Inoljt, http://mypolitikal.com/

 

 

The Northeast - Continuing the realignment in 2010?

That the Northeast has been trending blue in recent cycles is self evidently true. Will it continue in 2010?

Below the fold for all the details and hey go check out the <a href="http://wiki.opencongress.org/wiki/Project:RaceTracker">2010 Race Tracker Wiki over at Open Congress</a> for all your House, Senate and Gubernatorial needs.

(Cross posted at Daily Kos, Swing State Project and Open Left)

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The Northeast - Continuing the realignment in 2010?

We had a pretty good night on election night in the Northeast. We cleaned house. We nailed 1 GOP Senator, 6 House of Reps Districts, 1 State Senate and held on to all of the State Senates, State Houses, US House Reps and US Senators we had coming into this cycle.

That the Northeast is rapidly realigning towards team Blue is undeniable!
But the work my friends has merely begun. Forget the bunkum about us being irretrievably on defense in 2010 come below the fold to see who should be in our sights in 2010 as we stay on offense in the Northeast........

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Senate 2008: Will Maine Be on the Map?

On November 7, New England delivered big for the Democrats, handing them a new Senate seat, five new seats in the House and a Governorship. Democrats also picked up a significant number of state legislative seats in the region, gaining control over both chambers of the New Hampshire legislature and the governorship for the first time in more than 130 years. So will New England perform as well for the Democrats in 2008 as it did in 2006? There's no way to know for sure this far out. But if the Democrats want it to be, they're going to have to recruit the types of candidates who can tap into the shifting sentiments in the region. And according to Nicole Duran of Roll Call (subscription required), they may have just found a Senatorial candidate in the state of Maine, where they have been shut out of elections for the upper chamber of Congress over the past decade.

Rep. Tom Allen (D-Maine) said Wednesday that he is "seriously considering" running for Senate in 2008, and political watchers in the Pine Tree State say he looks and acts like someone preparing for a Senate bid.

[...]

He also has been spending more time outside of his Portland-based 1st district and is "mending fences" with sportsmen's groups, according to Christian Potholm, a political consultant and government professor at Maine's Bowdoin College.

"Tom Allen is already raising money for a Senate run," Potholm said. "He certainly is off and running from all the things people tell me."

Allen presumably would square off with the state's junior Senator, Susan Collins (R), who has said she intends to seek a third term.

Allen is a fairly strong fundraiser, bringing in close to $1 million over the course of the last cycle. But $1 million will not be nearly enough to squash Collins, who in 2002 defeated Chellie Pingree, a state senator who spent close to $4 million during, by 16 points (Collins' campaign also cost around the same amount). That said, Allen comes into the race with $440,000 in the bank (as of September 30) -- about $50,000 more than Collins -- a good sign, for sure.

Of course Allen would still have an uphill climb against Collins, who has a rather sizable approval rating in Maine. What's more, Allen is not a certainty to run (Roll Call's Doran cites state Senate Majority Leader Michael Brennan and state Attorney General Steven Rowe as other possibilities if Allen says no in the end). Nonetheless, the fact that George W. Bush's disapproval rating in Maine stands at 65 percent -- as high or higher than all but 11 other states -- indicates that the state may be susceptible to the type of anti-Republican wave that hit New England last month. And Allen, who received an "A" on the Drum Major Institute's Middle Class Report Card to Susan Collin's "C", appears to be, at least on the surface, the type of candidate that the grassroots in Maine and the Netroots around the country can get excited about.

Update (Chirs): Allen should run. I can't imagine it will help Collins that she and John Warner are the reasons Trent Lott is back in the Republican leadership. Let's see her sell that one in Maine, right along next to her "moderate" label.

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House Results 2006: Winning percentages by Party and Region

Bumped with light editing--Chris

A simple snapshot of the past election can be found by looking at two narrow winners from the small freshman class of 2004.  Brian Higgins won two years ago in NY-27 with 51%.  This year he was barely challenged and piled up 79%.  Freshman Democrat Stephanie Herseth (SD-AL) had an even harder time in 2004 winning both a special election in a squeaker and a general election by a slightly larger margin.  Herseth was on many lists of endangered Democrats.  In the end, Stephanie cruised to an easy win with 69% of the vote.

In an election where Democrats did wvery well, Herseth and Higgins typified many of the trends.  No Democratic seats were lost, and most elected Democrats (117 out of 232) were either unopposed or received 70% or more of the vote.  In fact, in the Northeast, 45 of 68 Democratic winners (and nearly all the incumbents) pulled in 70% or more.  Herseth was typical of the second largest group of Democrats:  those polling from 60% to 69% (73 of 232). Overall, twice as many Republicans were elected with percentages under 60% (85) as Democrats (42).  In the closest elections, where winners drew 52% or less, Republicans won by a 26 to 19 margin.  If you wonder why Democrats did not win 40 or more seats, there's the answer.  Unlike in 1994, the losing Republicans managed to win a lot of close elections.

The Republican edge grew as the margins moved up a bit.  from 53 to 55%,  GOPers posted 16 wins to 15 for Democrats.  But from 56% to 59% the Republican edge was a stunning 43 to 8.  If you want to find eighty seats to challenge hard in 2006, they are clearly available within this group.

Although Republicans enjoyed a 92 to 73 edge for races won with 60% to 69% of the vote, Democrats had a whopping 117 to 25 edge in seats won with 70% or more of the vote (or unopposed).  The margins in this super safe class outside the South are amazing.  Democrats won 45 seats in the Northeast with 70% or more; Republicans won none.  In the six Great Lakes States, a region where Republicans have 39 seats to 38 for Democrats, Democrats have a 20 to one edge in these walkovers (the only Republican win in this category was Tom Petri's unopposed effort in Wisconsin).  In the five states bordering the Pacific, Democrats won 23 70+ contests to just 2 for Republicans. Even in the South, Democrats won more seats by 70% or more than Republicans by a 24 to 19 margin.  The edge came from thoroughly gerrymandered Florida, where all 7 seats held by Democrats before the election produced 70%+ wins (6 inopposed and 70% in an open seat) vs.just 1 70+ win for the Republicans.  

(Note: All percentages are from the NY Times web site.  A winning percentage of 52% or under is used for Democrats in LA-2 and for Republicans in FL-13 and the Texas seat in the special election)

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