We’ve all been very caught up in politics in our house lately as we follow the Dramatic Primary Season. It’s our geeky version of football, I suspect.
I spent some time doing some research on voting patterns by region and came up with this .xls chart – RedBlue Analysis.
Details about data below:
The Great Outdoors (Alaska, Idaho, Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Dakota and Wyoming) 44 electoral votes – DEEP RED –
This is where the true GOP stalwarts live. This long list of states has a fairly low-density rural population in middle America. With the exception of Missouri – a border state – none of these have voted for a Democratic Presidential candidate in over 40 years; and Missouri has only done so twice. These states have a small population, despite covering a huge amount of land – even so, their population is slowly declining, so they have lost five electoral votes in the last forty years.
The Appalachian South (Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia and West Virginia) 135 electoral votes – MAGENTA +
While the Appalachian South region is commonly called out for being the GOP’s most stalwart area, the data shows several Southern states are actually swing states – most notably Florida, the region’s largest and most rapidly growing state, which has 29 electoral votes in 2016. Florida has gained 12 electoral votes in the last 40 years, the bulk of the region’s overall gain of 21 electoral votes in the last four decades.
The Southwest (Arizona, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, Texas, and Utah) 75 electoral votes – PURPLE ++
Many people like to group Texas with the other Southern states, but much that happens in Texas – politically, geographically, and historically – places it more firmly in the Southwestern region. All six Southwestern states are experiencing dramatic growth, in large part because of immigration – which is both a boon and one of the thorniest political issues on their plate. Since 1976 these combined states have gained 25 electoral votes due to the population increases they are experiencing. Politically, they are mixed: Texas, Utah and Arizona are extremely Republican; while Nevada, New Mexico, and Colorado have been voting Democratic in more recent elections.
The Mid-Atlantic Rust Belt (Delaware, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Montana, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin) 170 electoral votes –
INDIGO – – –
The Mid-Atlantic Rust Belt is a huge area with many similar interests and comparative voting behavior. Although slightly mixed, they tend to vote strongly Democrat, and have done so more often in the last twenty years. They have taken a huge population hit over the last few decades, most likely due to the decline of manufacturing jobs in the region – which is one of their largest political issues. They have lost 43 electoral votes in the last 40 years; thus, while the region includes a few populous states like New York, Illinois and Pennsylvania, their relative power is waning.
The North Coasts (California, Connecticut, Hawaii, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Vermont, Oregon, Washington and District of Columbia) 111 electoral votes – TRUE BLUE +
While in recent elections the northern, largely coastal states have almost universally voted Democrat, in the past they were much more likely to vote Republican. The North Coasts have experienced a Westward shift in population – the Eastern states’ population has slowly declined, while California’s has surged. Washington and Oregon have also enjoyed steady, modest population increases. The net result for these liberal strongholds has been ten more electoral votes since 1976.
Why did I divide the regions the way I did? I chose several factors in dividing states into their regions:
1. Geography. While this is the oldest and most obvious way to politically organize and think of the country, it is not perfect – yet it is a starting point.
2. Past voting behavior. To get a good idea of past voting behavior, you have to take into account more than one or two elections, so I went back ten for a nice round 40 years (with presidential elections happening once every four years, 30 or 50 would be more difficult).
3. Growth rate. Is a state’s population growing, stable, or declining? This shows if a state shares a neighboring state’s regional influences, and also signals the region’s increasing or decreasing political strength.