Wednesday, January 28, 2009

A recent Gallup Poll indicates that the political landscape of the United States has clearly shifted in the Democratic direction, and in most states, a greater proportion of residents identified with the Democrats than identified with the Republicans.

As recently as 2002, a majority of states were Republican in orientation. By 2005, movement in the Democratic direction was becoming apparent, and this continued in 2006. According to Gallup, that dramatic turnaround is clearly an outgrowth of Americans' dissatisfaction with the way the Republicans, in particular, former President George W. Bush (and how sweet to hear the “former” at the beginning) governed the country.

With Democratic support at the national level the highest in more than two decades and growing each of the last five years, Republican prospects for significant gains in power in the near term do not appear great. But the recent data do show that party support can change rather dramatically in a relatively short period of time.

Gallup interviewed more than 350,000 U.S. adults in 2008 for the survey. This large data set provided reliable estimates of state-level characteristics for 2008. Each sample of state residents was weighted by demographic characteristics to ensure it was representative of the state's population.

The map shows party strength by state for 2008, ranging from states that can be considered solidly Democratic (a Democratic advantage in party identification of 10 percentage points or more) to those that can be considered solidly Republican (a Republican advantage in party identification of 10 percentage points or more).

Rhode Island, Massachusetts, and Hawaii are currently the most Democratic states in the nation. All told, 29 states and the District of Columbia had Democratic party affiliation advantages of 10 points or greater last year. This includes all of the states in the Northeast, and all but Indiana in the Great Lakes region. There are even several Southern states in this grouping, including Arkansas, North Carolina, and Kentucky.

In contrast, only five states had solid or leaning Republican orientations in 2008, with Utah, Wyoming, Idaho, and Alaska in the former group, and Nebraska in the latter.

States in which the partisan advantage is less than 5 points in either direction are considered "competitive." In Georgia, 45.4 percent polled Democratic and 41.8 percent polled Republican, a 4-point Democratic edge, ranking the state at number 38 between Rhode Island (with a 37-point Democratic lead) and Utah (with a 23-point Republican lead).

Given that most states had a Democratic advantage in party affiliation last year, to some degree it can be argued that Barack Obama could have won many more electoral votes than he did. Obama won 22 of the 23 most Democratic states (West Virginia being the only exception), and McCain won the 17 most Republican states.

Virginia, Florida, and Indiana (all with 9-point Democratic leads) are arguably the most impressive wins for Obama, since they were the least Democratic states he won. McCain managed to win West Virginia, which had a 19-point Democratic advantage, as well as three other solidly Democratic states -- Kentucky (+13), Arkansas (+12), and Missouri (+11). McCain also swept the states that had narrow Democratic advantages of less than five points.

1 comment:

kitano0 said...

On a related note, the House just passed President Obama's economic stimulus package...without any Republican support at all...