January 28th, 2009
02:53 PM ET
3 months ago

New analysis suggests growing Democratic edge

A new analysis shows few 'Red States' remain.
A new analysis shows few 'Red States' remain.

WASHINGTON (CNN) - The nation was evenly divided during the bitterly fought 2000 campaign, but the election night map was not: Viewers saw a sea of red flooding most of the country, with blue states ringing the coasts.

Two cycles later, an analysis of a year’s worth of polling data released Wednesday suggests a far different electoral landscape, and a shift more dramatic than even the Democrats’ solid 2008 showing might suggest: an ocean of blue surrounding a shrinking red island in the center of the nation.

A string of recent polls have found the GOP’s party ID results have fallen to historic lows, and Republicans facing double-digit deficits on generic congressional ballots.

Gallup interviewed 350,000 Americans over the course of its 2008 daily tracking polls, including more than a thousand adults in every state except a few with relatively low populations: Wyoming, North Dakota and the District of Columbia.

Those interviews were conducted with state residents, not registered voters exclusively. Also included were adults who “leaned” Democratic or Republican, but were not members of either party, and might not be solid supporters.

The results, compiled into an analysis released in part this week, paint a bleak portrait for the GOP: In 35 states, a plurality of adults identified themselves as Democrats, or Democratic-leaning last year. In 10 more states, neither party had a statistically significant edge.

What’s left? Just five states - representing 20 electoral votes – had GOP pluralities in the 2008 cycle, as measured in the year-long surveys: Utah, Wyoming, Idaho, and Sarah Palin’s home state of Alaska were solidly Republican. And Nebraska, which gave one of its electoral votes to the Democratic presidential ticket, was Republican-leaning.

Twenty-nine states and the District of Columbia gave Democrats a party ID advantage of 10 points or more last year. That list includes the entire Northeast region, every Great Lakes state but one, and a handful of Southern states like North Carolina and Kentucky. Another half dozen states gave Democrats 5 to 9 point advantages.

The “most balanced” states in Gallup’s analysis – those that gave neither political party an advantage of more than a point or two, or were evenly split between the two – are areas that haven’t been competitive for Democrats on the national level in at least a generation, including South Dakota, Mississippi, North Dakota, South Carolina, Alabama, and Kansas. Also on that list: Arizona and Texas, home states of the GOP’s last two presidential candidates.

Republicans do have reason for hope. The map remains fluid. It’s unclear how many of those Democratic leaners will stick with the party, making the transition into solid supporters. And the fact that the polls included unregistered adults makes them an unreliable indicator of potential Election Day results.

But the potential remains for Democrats to magnify and institutionalize much of these gains with the next election cycle. The stakes are higher next year than in a typical off-year campaign: the state legislatures elected in 2010 will begin the process of translating fresh Census results into new congressional districts. The party that has the edge coming out of the next cycle will have the chance to solidify that advantage for the next decade.


Filed under: 2010 • Democratic Party • Republican Party
soundoff (219 Responses)
  1. Steve

    How many times have we read how one major party or another has lost influence and that the other party would be dominant for decades? There have been exceptions (e.g., Whigs), but mostly it is a mtter of ebb and flow. I'd like to think conservative Republicans are dwindling in number and influence, but I don't really think the country is becoming increasingly liberal– it has just been plain disgusted with Bush.

    January 28, 2009 04:24 pm at 4:24 pm |
  2. Dylan from MN

    I don't mean to gloat, but, WOOO YEAH!!!!!GO DEMS!!!!!!!BEING PROGRESSIVE IS SWEET!!!!WOOOO!!!!!!

    January 28, 2009 04:25 pm at 4:25 pm |
  3. Laverne

    A shift in power, I love it!

    January 28, 2009 04:25 pm at 4:25 pm |
  4. Alice Newman Center Harbor NH

    ""I mean, it’s easy if you’re Sean Hannity or Rush Limbaugh or even sometimes Newt Gingrich to stand back and throw bricks," Gingrey told the Politico. "You don’t have to try to do what’s best for your people and your party."... bravely said by one elected Republican ....

    Who was promptly was taken to the woodshed by those who worship the commode Rush sits on ... and was made to recant ...

    We see elected GOP leaders, solemn and serious about the deficit .. (now) and who can only repeat the old chorus of "tax cuts" ... The GOP
    inspires no one, offers ordinary people nothing but more of the same – and although I dislike commenting on how someone looks, they all look like snake-oil salesmen with their country-club tan.

    January 28, 2009 04:26 pm at 4:26 pm |
  5. TexAnnie *-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*

    If only Texas would wise up! We have, without a doubt, some of the most dimwitted do-nothing politicians in the country- cough, cough, John Cornyn.

    January 28, 2009 04:26 pm at 4:26 pm |
  6. An American

    If this becomes a County that only wants one party in office, we are all doomed to a dictatorship.

    January 28, 2009 04:27 pm at 4:27 pm |
  7. Charles

    The Bush/Cheney administration, the worst in history, has ruined the Republican party.

    January 28, 2009 04:29 pm at 4:29 pm |
  8. sensible Cape Coral Fl

    I remember when Rove (#@(*&^%*&) demanded that we needed a permanent Republican majority in this country. HA HA HA HA

    January 28, 2009 04:29 pm at 4:29 pm |
  9. Steel Curtain

    Yes, stupidity and ignornace are on the rise in America.

    January 28, 2009 04:29 pm at 4:29 pm |
  10. Diana Ewing NJ

    Listening to the GOP these last few days makes me think they must like the color blue..because they certainly don't learn anything from their mistakes.

    January 28, 2009 04:29 pm at 4:29 pm |
  11. Deb

    Unless the republican party revamp their spokes people they will continue to decrease in population. The world is changing and our melting pot of Americans need to be counted. As long as the Republicans are represented by such people as Sean Hannity, Rush Limbaugh, Ann Coulter and Dick Morris, I just don't see how they can overcome the blue. After 8 years of red all AMERICANS need a breather.

    January 28, 2009 04:29 pm at 4:29 pm |
  12. Matt

    And yet Obama still bothers to show up at their office doors to attempt bipartisan solutions while they continue to spout divisive filth, talk out of both sides of their mouths and plot obstructionism behind the American peoples' backs. One would think they'd be smart enough to realize Obama is giving them the rope to hang themselves and that they're glibly tying it to the ceiling fan. Will they get a clue before Obama grabs them a chair?

    January 28, 2009 04:30 pm at 4:30 pm |
  13. jim

    As long as there are people like Rush L who say how much they love America but clearly hate of Americans, the country will become ..........well......more and more blue. How can Republicans expect to hold onto voters with Christian values when their spokes-people include Linbaugh and Savage who clearly violate Christian principles with their hate and fear-mongerting.

    January 28, 2009 04:30 pm at 4:30 pm |
  14. Obama 08

    If only the Dems could get their ENTIRE party to vote. We'd blow out the GOP in every election.

    January 28, 2009 04:32 pm at 4:32 pm |
  15. Lorenzo McIver

    As long as the "tone" of the Republican party (aka Limbaugh and Hannity) remains divisive and mean-spirited , their losses in once red strongholds will continue to diminish. What they fail to realize is that the generation of the "Strom Thurmonds, Jesse Helms (rest in peace) mentality is dying away(just being realistic and not disrespectful) . This country's diversity is rapidly changing each year and the republican party has mainly invited only one or two demographics to their prom.

    January 28, 2009 04:33 pm at 4:33 pm |
  16. Peggy

    I believe we will regret the day Obama was elected..........

    January 28, 2009 04:33 pm at 4:33 pm |
  17. Dave

    Good God, lets hope they go back from whence they came forever. And dont let the door hit them in the a$$.
    We need the GOP like we need a boil on our butt.

    January 28, 2009 04:34 pm at 4:34 pm |
  18. Bill

    It doesnt appear any analysis was done in Illinois.

    January 28, 2009 04:34 pm at 4:34 pm |
  19. Seth

    This map will change significantly after a few years of Obama!

    January 28, 2009 04:35 pm at 4:35 pm |
  20. Yee-Haw

    There is a God after all.

    January 28, 2009 04:35 pm at 4:35 pm |
  21. John

    New study suggests growing Democratic edge?

    That's because of growing Republican stupidity.

    January 28, 2009 04:35 pm at 4:35 pm |
  22. bill

    That's right. Run, run from the dark side. There's nothing less Christian than a republican.

    January 28, 2009 04:36 pm at 4:36 pm |
  23. Al

    With better public education we would not have red states at all. Unless GOP break away from extremists and return to moderate responsible conservatism. Which seems nearly impossible now.
    My prediction: GOP splits on extremists and moderates. Moderates may survive if some conservative democrats join them. Having said that, I still see much brighter future for us liberals and progressives.

    January 28, 2009 04:36 pm at 4:36 pm |
  24. Brad

    When you have nothing new to offer and your public statements consist of nothing but vile and slanderous personal attacks on those who disagree with you, you turn people off. The Republicans have only themselves to blame for their current predicament. They aren't attracting either young or minority voters. It is impossible for a political party to grow under those circumstances...indeed, the only thing that it can do is shrink to a vocal, bitter and irelevant minority.

    January 28, 2009 04:36 pm at 4:36 pm |
  25. Dave from Jersey

    It will fluxuate like that for years, it's the mood of the country that changes it. I wouldn't be suprised if Obama wins another election, but I think there might be a suprising mid-term election; and quite frankly I think it might be for the better. I've definetly not been impressed as of late :/

    January 28, 2009 04:37 pm at 4:37 pm |
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