January 28th, 2009
02:53 PM ET
11 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. Kojeh

    Lets not get too carried away, this is a cyclic phenomenon. I recall in 1980, Republican sweep, then in 1992 Democratic upsurge and back in 1998 a surge in the other direction, it waned in 2006 and now it is about to peak in 2010 after six years it will swing back to the Republican side. It is just human nature that after a certain number of years we yearn for a change like all else we do in life.

    January 28, 2009 04:49 pm at 4:49 pm |
  2. kuhawk

    John I could not agree more. All fifty states will turn blue if the GOP continues to listen to the right wing minority that has brought America to its knees, and caused us to lose respect on the world stage. I used to be a voting republican. It was a sad day for me when I saw someone I had long admired, Elizabeth Dole, stoop to the level of hate monger of the far right. Stupidity is doing the same thing expecting different results. America is sick of hate and greed, tax breaks for the top 1% of the population. We are sick of idiots like the fat rush and colt in Florida. Yet the GOP seem to hang on to every word while losing seat after seat in both houses. Best thing possible for the DEMs would be for the GOP to put Palin on the ticket and follow all the advice of Limbaugh, Cheney, and Dobson. Smart Republicans jumped ship when they saw the leaders steering the ship full speed straight for the falls.

    January 28, 2009 04:49 pm at 4:49 pm |
  3. Bob

    Instead of doing a state-by-state coloring, how about doing a county-by-county coloring?

    January 28, 2009 04:49 pm at 4:49 pm |
  4. vick

    hahahaha gop is dead!!!!!!!!!

    January 28, 2009 04:50 pm at 4:50 pm |
  5. once upon a horse

    it's Bush's fault!

    January 28, 2009 04:51 pm at 4:51 pm |
  6. montag24

    Well said, Yomas. Well said!

    January 28, 2009 04:51 pm at 4:51 pm |
  7. Braeden

    Saying Arkansas and Tennessee are blue states is one of the dumbest things I have seen and it immediately discredits this entire study.

    January 28, 2009 04:52 pm at 4:52 pm |
  8. Chad Raymond

    As a Democrat I just want to say, "Now we need to keep a closer eye on the Democrats than ever!" The American people can't be asleep at the switch. We have to not treat politics like sports. Don't just root for your team. Keep an eye on them. Always.

    January 28, 2009 04:53 pm at 4:53 pm |
  9. Jake

    Just wait until the Dems have had a chance to mess it all up...Bureaucratic socialized health care and a huge increase in the national debt (which they always criticized Bush for!) just ought to do the trick.

    At this point the two choice between the two parties is a choice for the lesser of two evils.

    January 28, 2009 04:53 pm at 4:53 pm |
  10. GOPs need to join the real world

    Thanks for the analysis – it's a wonder McCain came as close as he did.

    Reps will recover when they decide to act like grownups and stop governing according to the childish fantasy world of Limbaugh, Hannity et. al.

    January 28, 2009 04:54 pm at 4:54 pm |
  11. joel

    There are fewer and fewer people stupid enough to believe that the republican party represents them at all. The republican party is on its way out forever, the world has left it behind.

    January 28, 2009 04:54 pm at 4:54 pm |
  12. Matt

    This year's summer blockbuster: EPIC FAIL, starring Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity and Gilbert Godfried.

    January 28, 2009 04:54 pm at 4:54 pm |
  13. Marilyn

    Your map is stupid. Most of the deep South states are still very red and voted red in 2008. I don't know why you show them blue or gray. Also, just because you are registered as a Democrat doesn't mean you will necessarily vote that way. I am a registered Democrat who voted for McCain in November. I doubt that I will ever vote for a Democrat again, even though I probably won't bother to change my voter registration unless I change it to Independent. How a person is registered doesn't mean much anymore.

    January 28, 2009 04:55 pm at 4:55 pm |
  14. Jeff

    Yomas,

    Yes. the party that is bringing back a failed policy from 70 years ago, seems like the much better choice. Problem is, as an independent, if we don't have two parties in power then some percentage of the population is shut out. This Administration is already showing that bipartisianship means you do what the President wants, which is undoubtedly bad for Americans as a whole, unless your ideology so clouds your judgment that you believe not a single D has ever done anything wrong, including criminal activity.

    Lest I remind you of the house banking scandal, both parties were involved there. Greed and stupidty are not new to either party, so we as Americans benefit when they have to work together, not when one party runs the show. For illustrations, see the Bush years and the Carter years. Clinton and Reagan were successful because they had to work together.

    January 28, 2009 04:55 pm at 4:55 pm |
  15. jeff

    A ONE PARTY SYSTEM.
    ISN'T THAT COMUNISM / SOCOLISM.
    JUST THINK BIPARTISANSHIP EVERY DAY

    January 28, 2009 04:56 pm at 4:56 pm |
  16. Mel of Alexandria, Virginia

    The present behavior of the Republicans, after receiving much more respect than they gave to the Democrats when the Republicans had complete control truly shows them up. The people can see clearly the obstructionist role which the GOP has adopted. If they did go to Sunday School they did not learn much. The hole which they are digging let us hope that it is big enough for all of them.

    January 28, 2009 04:57 pm at 4:57 pm |
  17. Gary-NJ

    Until the Republican Party gets out of the strangle hold placed on it by the extreme right, they are doomed.

    January 28, 2009 04:57 pm at 4:57 pm |
  18. Ambrose Smith, Borrego Springs, California

    I used to live in Idaho.

    It might as well be a SOUTHERN state. Backwoods.

    Glad they only have 4 electoral votes.

    January 28, 2009 04:58 pm at 4:58 pm |
  19. Clint

    Fiscally conservative, socially liberal – what's our color?

    January 28, 2009 05:00 pm at 5:00 pm |
  20. Steve

    I might be mistake, because I was just a kid, but wasn't it Reagan that won every single state to become president?

    This is nothing new as for a shift in states. In the next 4 years, if Obama fails as a President, you will see a lot of states shifting to Republican states. If not in 4, then in 8 you will see another shift. Its just how the Country works.

    As soon as people start opening their eyes and see what is happening, you will have a change. Little by little, the Government is taking over, and before you know it, Government will be running everyones lives telling everyone what they can and can not do. Hopefully the Democrats will stop drinking the kool-aide and realize a Country controled by the Government is NOT what America was created for.

    January 28, 2009 05:01 pm at 5:01 pm |
  21. TP

    Yes, the republicans will be extinct in 2012. We are tired of conservatives and thier so called values, tax cuts for the rich, and lies. Garin (your wishful thinking). Conservative party are old news!

    January 28, 2009 05:01 pm at 5:01 pm |
  22. Patsy Madison, TN

    If Tennessee could look to the future, but we have the right-winged christians running our state. If you do not have a R after your name, you can not be elected in TN. What a shame!!!!!!!!!!!!

    January 28, 2009 05:01 pm at 5:01 pm |
  23. Leah DiMarco, Texas

    At the end of Obama's eight years America will be PURPLE and all sides will have to work together for the good of the USA ;)
    That's my dream...

    January 28, 2009 05:02 pm at 5:02 pm |
  24. Sam Spade

    "Try not to sound so gleeful about it, guys."

    How is that gleeful? The map does indeed show a shrinking island of red states. An unwarranted cynical response to a simple observation by a CNN analyst...

    January 28, 2009 05:02 pm at 5:02 pm |
  25. YoungGrad

    You're my boy Blue....You're my boy.

    January 28, 2009 05:02 pm at 5:02 pm |
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