The Strange Case of New Jersey

By: Inoljt, http://thepolitikalblog.wordpress.com/

The New Jersey governor's election is less than two weeks away, and it deserves far more attention than I have been giving it. Nevertheless, I will now belatedly share some thoughts that have been stewing in my head.

Here is a snapshot of the race, taken on October 25th:

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There are several unmistakable trends here. The challenger Attorney Chris Christie gains a double-digit lead over the incumbent, for fairly obvious reasons. Then, mysteriously, he proceeds to lose it. Incumbent Governor Jon Corzine's share of the vote mostly remains flat but - and this is important - trends slightly upward. While the two main candidates blast each other, third-party candidate Chris Daggett draws support at an accelerating rate.

Mr. Corzine's positive trend should encourage Democrats; it indicates that he is actually building support, not just tearing down Mr. Christie. In addition, expect Mr. Daggett to overperform on election day as he reaches viability. Normally, third-party candidates perform below their polling; this election, however, with both major candidates highly unpopular, constitutes anything but a normal situation.

The strangest and most interesting part of the campaign, however, has been the story of Mr. Christie.

Continued below the flip.

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Analyzing Swing States: Florida, Part 2

This is part two of a series on the political structure of the swing state Florida. Part three can be found here.

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Florida can be considered as three regions distinct in culture, economics, and voting patterns. Northern Florida is deep red; the I-4 corridor is light red; and the Miami metropolis is moderately blue.

Until recently, Florida was far different from what it looks like today. It was the quintessential Southern state, and it was fairly empty in term of people. Florida's voting record reflected its southern roots. Until Eisenhower won it twice, Florida was part of the Solid South. In 1964, LBJ ran well behind his national average, due to his support for civil rights. The next election, George Wallace took 29% of the vote. Then in 1976, Jimmy Carter resurrected the Solid South for the last time, winning Florida by 5%. That was also the last time a Democrat ran above the national average in Florida.

Northern Florida and the Panhandle

Florida still is a Southern state to some extent. This is especially true in northern Florida and the panhandle, which borders Alabama and Georgia. Northern Florida is very conservative; it is not uncommon to see a Republican taking 70% or more of the vote in a number of counties there, as the picture below the flip indicates.

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Analyzing Swing States: Florida, Part 1

In 2008, Illinois Senator Barack Obama won Colorado by 9.0%, Florida by 2.8%, and Indiana by 1.0%. Guess which one was the "swing state" in 2004.

The answer is Florida, and if that seems strange in light of the above - it is. In fairness, one might counter that Obama did relatively poorly in Florida (where he didn't campaign in the primaries) and relatively well in Colorado (where the Democratic convention was held).

Here's another question. Colorado, Florida, Indiana. Only one of these three sends a majority-Republican delegation to the House of Representatives. Which one is it? (A hint: it's not Indiana.)

It turns out that Florida elects 15 Republican congressmen and 10 Democratic congressmen. Again, to be fair, one might note that Florida's Republican-controlled state legislature gerrymandered Florida's congressional districts to achieve an unbalanced result. This is relatively easy - most Democrats live in tightly clustered South Florida.

But that's just it: Florida's state legislature is Republican-controlled. In fact, Republicans have 60%+ majorities in both chambers. Florida's governor is Republican Charlie Crist. Florida was voted Democratic in only two of the last eight presidential elections. John Kerry's campaign was shocked by the margin he lost by in Florida. Bill Clinton won Georgia, of all states, while losing Florida in1992.

To be fair, I'm picking and choosing my numbers. If you go back to the past nine presidential elections, you'll find Democrats batting three for nine, not two for eight. And three of those eight elections were big Republican victories.

But there's only so many times one can say "to be fair." There's only so many excuses one can make for yet another indication of Republican dominance in Florida.

Because the closer one inspects as Florida, the more it begins to look less like a swing state than a conservative state with an unusually big Democratic base - which the media happens to call a swing state.

In the next sections, I'll be analyzing why exactly this is so.

--Inoljt, http://thepolitikalblog.wordpress.com/

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Florida, Pennsylvania, and Ohio

Florida, Ohio, Pennsylvania. Some of the most hotly contested, heavily analyzed swing states in the nation. In the next few days I will be going over the political composition of these states - where the Democrats and Republicans have their voting base. I will also look at "swing" regions inside these states, which may support either the Democratic or Republican candidate.

While the media and popular opinion labels Florida, Ohio, and Pennsylvania as "swing states," all three swing in one consistent direction more often than not. Florida and Ohio swing right: when the country turns red, they tend to be a bit more red and when the country turns blue, they tend to be a bit less blue. Pennsylvania swings in the opposite direction; it is always more Democratic than the nation at large. These political leanings have held true for election after election (including the most recent one), no matter who the candidates are or what their campaigns do. They have immense political significance.

Part 1 of Florida can be found here

--Inoljt, http://thepolitikalblog.wordpress.com/

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The Modern Electoral Map

By: Inoljt, http://thepolitikalblog.wordpress.com/

Before continuing on my analysis, I'd like to congratulate President Barack Obama on winning the Nobel Peace Prize today.

Now onto the analysis: Some of you may recognize this map.

198450%

For those who don't, this is Ronald Reagan's landslide election over his hapless opponent Walter Mondale.

Unfortunately, for those who look for political trends, this map hides more than it reveals. For example, Reagan wins Massachusetts, but reasonable people would agree that Massachusetts is normally a Democratic state.

Here is a more revealing map.

1984

You probably don't recognize this map. There's a good reason for that - there's never been a presidential election with the above results.

In fact, the previous electoral college is what would have happened if Walter Mondale and Ronald Reagan won an equal share of votes. The blue states are those in which Reagan won with less than 18.2%, the exact amount by which he beat Mondale.

This map bears an eerie resemblance to today's electoral maps.

More below the flip.

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