|There are 17 entries in each of the columns, (50 states plus DC), so one can see at a glance that Democrats enjoy a margin of 17 points or more in 17 states plus DC, a nice little factoid. Democrats also enjoy a double-digit advantage in 28 states plus DC, while the states where Republicans hold an edge (including 3 by 2 points or less) make up less than half a column:
If that isn't lopsided, I don't know what is.
To further sharpen the contrast, here's a snapshot of the ten most Democratic, and ten most Republican states:
Note that the #10 Democratic state is more heavily Democratic than the #1 Republican state is Republican. And, of course, the 9th and 10th most Republican states are Democratic leaning.
And here's a snapshot of the most Democratic and most Republic states in each of the nine census regions:
A majority of the most Republican states in a given census region--five--actually lean Democratic. And two of them do so by double digits.
The current map is especially striking when juxtaposed with a map from 2002:
Looking at this map, it's really not so surprising that so many political experts thought the Republicans really were establishing themselves in a position of long-term dominance--even though this was actually no more than a momentary peak. Looked at as a single snap-shot it was fairly impressive.
And the underlying data:
shows a clear predominance of Republican-controlled states.
Again, here's a snapshot of the ten most Democratic, and ten most Republican states:
Which further shows the Republican edge. All the GOP states are in double digits, with only three of them under 15%. In contrast, one Democratic state is in single digits, and more than half are under 15%.
And the most Democratic and most Republic states in each of the nine census regions:
This view was more narrowly matched, and actually favored the Democrats by one metric: one "most Democratic" state leaned Republican, while two "most Republican" states leaned Democratic.
All the above resulted from a significant shift from 1993 to 2002:
Just seven states plus DC became more Democratic during this time. A whopping 41 states became more Republican, 21 of them by double digits. Still, this represented a period when the post-Civil Rights Southern defection from the Democratic Party was finally filtering down to the level of party ID. Ten of the 21 states with double digit GOP shifts were Southern or Border states. Thus a good chunk of this shift did not represent much of a change in national-level voting behavior, nor did it represent something new, but rather the playing out of an old dynamic. the only question was, had this dynamic played itself out, or was there more of it to come? Given that the two parties where still fairly evenly matched after this heroic GOP surge, there was good reason even then to think that those caught up in the narrative of GOP dominance were not taking a long view of things.
In fact, this actually represented the high water mark of GOP popularity since the Great Depression, so it is remarkable how dramatically things have changed in such a short period of time.
This sort of dramatic shift has occurred before however. In the 1880s, the Democrats seemed to have pulled even or slightly ahead of the Republicans, only be wiped out following the Panic of 1893, first losing their large majorities in the House, then losing the Presidency in 1896. Similarly, the Democrats enjoyed a landslide victory in 1964, unlike anything they'd seen since FDR more than 20 years earlier, but the next presidential election began a 40-year period dominated by divided government, when three Republican presidents won two terms, and the only Democrat to do so never broke 50%. Thus, this sort of shift is readily compatible with an end-of-cycle realignment.
This can be seen quite dramatically in the following map that shows shifts in margins from 2002 to 2008:
Just one state became more Republican. All the rest became more Democratic.
And here's the underlying data:
More than two-thirds became more Democratic by double digits. The entire middle column--17 states--underwent a shockingly uniform shift, varying less than 3%, from 15.2% to 12.3%. Just above them, another 12 states shifted within a band of 3.6%, from 16.5% to 20.1%. Together, these two narrow bands accounted for more than half the states.
Stepping back a bit to take in the larger picture, I now want to look at 1993, and how things changed from 1993 to 2008--combining the 1993-2002 period that moved toward the Republicans with the 2002-2008 period that moved toward the Democrats. First, here's the map showing the combined shifts:
And the underlying data:
The combined data shows more than 2/3rds of the states (33 out of 48 for which we have comparable data, plus DC) became more Democratic, with almost 1/3 (15 states plus DC) shifting Democratic by double digits, compared to just 5 shifting Republican by that much. This is a decisive shift since 1993, a time period when Democrats were still quite strong across the boards, as can be seen from the following table:
Democrats had double-digit margins in 19 states plus DC. Republicans had double-digit margins in just four states--none of them Southern, however.
Looking at the top 10 states for both parties:
we see that only the top GOP state, Wyoming, is more Republican than the #10 Democratic state, New York, is Democratic. More than half the GOP states are in single digist, while more than half the Democratic states were over 20.
And by census region:
Only one "most Democratic" state was in single digits, while three "most Republican" states were actually Democratic leaning, and four others were in single digits.
In short, the dominance of Democratic party identification in 1993 was broad, deep and undeniable.
The fact that the electorate is now significantly more Democratic than it was in 1993 means that the Democrats really are poised for a long period of partisan dominance--if only their national political leadership had the slightest clue that this was the case. Lacking such a clue, there is really no telling how badly they might alienate those who presently identify with the party.
Here's one final way of looking at what's happened over this period of time, a table recording the unweighted averages of party identification in the various regions. Because it's unweighted, it's not very scientific, but it does give a raw feel that's quite in line with everything else we've seen:
There are just two regions--East South Central and West South Central--that have become more Republican. Even the third Southern region--the South Atlantic, which includes Virginia, Florida and the Carolinas--has become more Democratic, as has every other region. Furthermore, the Mountain region is now the only region that leans Republican. Clearly, the notion of a "center-right nation" was at best a reflection of Presidential level politics (which has always been more personality driven than other levels) combined with an historically brief surge in party identification that has now played itself out, and been more than compensated for by a resurgent Democratic Party.
If only someone would tell the party leadership.
If only the party leadership were listening!