Just Five Republican States Left!

Taegan Goddard passes on a Gallup poll that he aptly summarizes thusly: ” there are only five states that now have a statistically significant majorities of Republicans. They are Utah, Idaho, Wyoming, Alaska and Nebraska.
In contrast, there are now 35 states that are majority Democratic with 10 states up for grabs.”

Shocking?  Wildly implausible?

Take a look at the top-line graphic:

Having both spent a lot of time living in Alabama and having watched recent election returns, the idea that Alabama is a tossup state is laughable.  It gets better:

Does it strike you as even remotely plausible that Texas, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, and South Carolina are “competitive,” in the sense of having no significant party lean?   Me neither.

What’s going on here?

There are several reasons for possible disparities between the party affiliation data and the voting outcomes in a given state. First, turnout has typically been an equalizer in U.S. electoral politics because Democrats almost always have an advantage in identification, but Republicans have been competitive in national and state elections over the last three decades because Republicans are usually more likely than Democrats to vote. Second, one’s partisan leaning is not a perfect predictor of voting in a presidential election, in which candidate-specific characteristics can influence a voter’s choice. Third, the party affiliation data reported here cover all of 2008, while presidential election voting was limited to Nov. 4 or the weeks leading up to it.

It’s true that voting behavior and party preference are not perfect overlaps and that, as a rule, Republicans have tended to benefit from higher turnout than their Democratic counterparts.   But de-coupling party ID from presidential preference is another matter altogether.  The states in the Deep South are perfectly hospitable to Democrats in state and local elections; it’s just that Democrats in those starts are, well, Republicans.   That’s much less interesting for national-level discussion, though, than presidential preference.

FILED UNDER: Public Opinion Polls, US Politics, , , , , , , , , , ,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is a Security Studies professor at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. Triumph says:

    These liberals dont realize that America is fundamentally a right-wing country. We started that way and we’ll continue that way, liberals be damned!

    Just because Obama stole the election for the Democrat party doesn’t mean they have any support. In fact, the fact of their stealing is indicative of their lack of actual support.

    I bet this “Taegan” lady is a huge Obama libsie.




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  2. Davebo says:

    Yipee! The GOP will hold Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia and South Carolina.

    Welcome to new and improved GOP. At least you have more support than Libertarians!




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  3. typically been an equalizer in U.S. electoral politics because Democrats almost always have an advantage in identification, but Republicans have been competitive in national




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  4. just me says:

    I think what this misses is ideology.

    Political ideology and party identification shifts on the spectrum from region to region. I seriously doubt Olympia Snowe would survive as a republican in Alabama, but she would probably do fine as a democrat.

    I think it will be a cold day in Hell before Alabama becomes anything close to democratic leaner or toss up in presidential elections anytime soon having lived there and with the vast majority of my in laws currently long time residents there.




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  5. odograph says:

    Sometimes I think I’m an independent sort, but then discover I’m just part of a trend … like when I stopped being a Republican.




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  6. Clovis says:

    D.C. is a state now?

    Nobody tells me anything.




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  7. steve s says:

    Having both spent a lot of time living in Alabama and having watched recent election returns, the idea that Alabama is a tossup state is laughable.

    I spent 21 years living amidst the trailer parks of North Florida, and then 11 in North Carolina. I’m back in North Florida now, for family reasons. I only grudgingly left Chapel Hill. Anyway, I would have said the exact same thing about those states. Yet Barack won them.

    To your general point, though, I agree with it. Georgia (lived there, too: Valdosta), Alabama (never lived there, but spent some time in Opelika), Arkansas,… the GOP has the south. Old, white, less educated southerners is the GOP base. And the more they listen to Mike Pence, Rush Limbaugh, etc, the more basey the GOP’ll be. And the more seats they’ll lose. I can go into town and hear people repeating GOP talking points. It’s just a toss up as to whether I hear one of those before I hear complaints about white girls marryin’ “coloreds”.




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  8. steve s says:

    Sometimes I think I’m an independent sort, but then discover I’m just part of a trend … like when I stopped being a Republican.
    Posted by odograph | January 28, 2009 | 04:36 pm | Permalink

    Most reasonable people stopped being republican sometime between Newt and now. I did. My very first vote (1988) was party-line republican. As I came to see, over the last 8 years, that the GOP was the Party of Stupid, that changed drastically.




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  9. steve s says:

    What also changed it was I have a friend named Mike who manages stocks and currencies, and does quite well (he pulled out before the tech bubble and the housing bubble, shifting into Euros), and he also shifted from strongly republican to strongly democrat. He told me one time, “You want to improve the economy? Vote Democrat. Look at the numbers the last 50 years. The Dems grow the GDP, the Republicans grow the debt. A society of plutocrats and serfs is no good, and that’s what the GOP gets you.” I can tell when I mention something that’s naively free-market, because he just says “Heinlein Poisoning.”




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  10. Bithead says:

    Wasn’t all this pretty much the state of play during the Carter Disaster?




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