January 28th, 2009
02:53 PM ET
9 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. Me

    Strange how the more uneducated the population as whole gets (as continually evidenced by lower and lower scores and higher and higher drop out rates) the more democratic voters there seem to be.

    Ignorant = Democrat

    January 28, 2009 05:06 pm at 5:06 pm |
  2. Keith

    I could care less about the Democratic party until they prove themselves capable. I hope they succeed but pray they don't become what the Republicans became.
    However good to see so many independents, that will put a stop to partisan bickering on both sides maybe we can all be Americans again.

    January 28, 2009 05:08 pm at 5:08 pm |
  3. HouseDiva

    HAHAHAHAHAHAHA does anyone else finds that map funny after Bush and Palin?

    January 28, 2009 05:09 pm at 5:09 pm |
  4. Bill Charlotte, NC

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

    I used to be a die hard memeber of the "Red Sate Nation." They are fast becoming regional and irrelevant. The sad part is they either don't know it or they don't get it.

    January 28, 2009 05:10 pm at 5:10 pm |
  5. Marion

    I don't buy it – Georgia still feels red to me .. and a state that re-elected Saxby Chambliss after what he did to Max Cleland has to be pretty darn red.

    January 28, 2009 05:12 pm at 5:12 pm |
  6. Kevin Denver Colorado

    It's a matter of education. The Dems are as, a rule, more educated and cosmopolitan than the Repubs. The internet, for better or worse, has increased the number of people with access to information. This information translates to knowledge. Knowledge translates to POWER.

    January 28, 2009 05:13 pm at 5:13 pm |
  7. Peter

    Its due to Limbaugh, Hannity, Palin, Boehner, and Cantor why the Republicans fail...Get a new House leader and whip, get rid of the right wing talk show hosts, and for the love of god keep Palin in Alaska

    January 28, 2009 05:15 pm at 5:15 pm |
  8. Scott

    Lets see how that map looks in 2 yrs after the next set of elections. Might find a lot of democrats joining their unemployed supporters when the country goes into a depression at their hands.

    January 28, 2009 05:21 pm at 5:21 pm |
  9. Michael - Raleigh NC

    Americans are just that. It does take all kinds. Democrats and Republicans are not all that there is. I am an independent, and I am waiting for a REAL Third party for me. I am also a "Non believer" so I don't get caught up in the "Morality" of issues without it being my morality as opposed to what someone tells me is moral. America's new direction needs to be inclusive of all, as the Constitution and Bill of Rights guarantee. As long as we do that, all will be fine, regardless of majority in Congress. Good luck to us all.

    January 28, 2009 05:21 pm at 5:21 pm |
  10. Mike in NYC

    The GOP's core constituency, suburban and rural Whites, are declining as a percentage of the US population, as are Whites in general.

    When they're gone, the "New America" will find its new and improved New Deals awfully hard to pay for.

    January 28, 2009 05:21 pm at 5:21 pm |
  11. Melissa

    I'd say thats about accurate. The Republicans keep shooting themselves in the foot. Though Pelosi isn't helping the Democrates any.

    January 28, 2009 05:22 pm at 5:22 pm |
  12. Chris

    It matters not the color of our party, as we continue to vote along color lines we will continue to see our country flounder. Only when we as a nation have reached the bottom will we be able to see the way out of this darkness of sin we call politics (blue or red). As long as we are voting out of some guilt or for someone because of color or because the new media is infatuated with a concept politician we will continue to fail. We must put the best people in office ....... now ...... where are they?

    January 28, 2009 05:23 pm at 5:23 pm |
  13. Ryan

    Once these people realize that everything Obama is planning on giving away for 'free' will actually have to be taken away from someone else, their attitudes will change.

    January 28, 2009 05:25 pm at 5:25 pm |
  14. Obama 2012'

    Divisive politics are a thing of the past (hopefully) and the neoconservative are in the minority with their ideology and lack of intelligence (i.e. Sarah Palin and Joe the plumber). I'm going to get rich saling "I survived the Bush years" T-Shirts!

    January 28, 2009 05:25 pm at 5:25 pm |
  15. Kentucky

    Kentucky has more registered Democrats than Republicans, always has, but Kentucky Democrats do not always vote party in national elections, because many times the nominee is to liberal. KY will vote for Democratic Nominees who are centrist and unafraid to mention the word God. Only 2 Democrats have won Kentucky since1964. Carter and Bill Clinton (twice). But Carter and Clinton also did one very important thing that Mondale, Dukakis, Gore, Kerry and Obama did not do. THEY CAMPAIGNED in KENTUCKY. Imagine that idea?
    In the last election cycle, Obama did not come to Kentucky one time during the general campaign, and only once in the primary campaign. Perhaps candidates in the future will understand the importance of campaigning and asking for the vote. Being told that the voters of an entire state are racist because it voted for McCain, when McCains opponent only came here once to ask for the vote is stupid and racist itself.

    January 28, 2009 05:26 pm at 5:26 pm |
  16. Darko

    You're all on crack if you think Louisiana is turning blue...seriously. The state has been shifting red since dem leadership in the state bungled Katrina.

    January 28, 2009 05:28 pm at 5:28 pm |
  17. Matt in MN

    Curious to see what the "trend" was around 1992 and '96.

    I'd tend to believe that in '92 it was similar to it is now, with a slight shift in the Reps favor in '96 to the large shift in '00. We saw a slight shift to the Dems favor in '04 and the large shift in '08.

    A quick look at the political landscape over the last 10-20 years shows that it ebbs and flows both ways.

    January 28, 2009 05:29 pm at 5:29 pm |
  18. Nick Wright from Atlanta, GA

    The Democratic Party has become the centrist party in American politics, which means they now have a less cohesive political identity. West Virginian Democrats certainly didn't come out to vote for Obama.

    January 28, 2009 05:31 pm at 5:31 pm |
  19. Darko

    The country traded one 'fear mongerer' for a new one. Instead of war, we get economic fear which is making it worse. Public opinion is the king of recessions.

    Doesn't anyone have a problem with congress borrowing almsot a TRILLION dollars to spend on pork? Do you REALLY trust Obama and Pelosi that much?

    Reality is around the corner...

    January 28, 2009 05:31 pm at 5:31 pm |
  20. ranjit

    We will come back as a strong conservative republican party and not the pseudo republican party of John McCain and other old rhinos. In the idea of arenas, liberalism fails every time and conservative principles win.

    January 28, 2009 05:32 pm at 5:32 pm |
  21. Bill / California

    There is no way you're going to convince me or anyone who knows anything about politics that Texas is even remotely close to becoming a blue state.

    January 28, 2009 05:32 pm at 5:32 pm |
  22. 30m-Democrat-voted Clinton then McCain

    Let's not forget that Obama won just 52% of the vote, while McCain won 47% of the vote (~56 million votes). Nearly half of the country didn't want Obama as president.

    January 28, 2009 05:32 pm at 5:32 pm |
  23. James

    As a registered Republican I can say with a certain conviction that this is a statistic that has only been brought on by themselves. After the big elections in November we witnessed a bloodletting and as far as the nation is concerned – it looks as though there will be another bloodletting in 2010 if the Republicans continue to play the same games as they are playing now in congress. I mean if you don't believe this – then tune in and watch CNN and witness the joke that they have become. (This is coming from a registered Republican.

    January 28, 2009 05:32 pm at 5:32 pm |
  24. Karl Rove

    Hey John, Socialism is what we are now providing to all the banks and ultra-rich corporations that YOUR party allowed to run wild due to de-regulation, lack of oversight, tax give-aways and funding of an unnecessary war.

    Yes John – YOU are partly responsible for today's economic disaster by voting for such policies!! Shame on you – why do you hate America so much?!

    January 28, 2009 05:32 pm at 5:32 pm |
  25. Retired Army in San Antonio

    John -- January 28th, 2009 4:35 pm ET

    New study suggests growing Democratic edge?

    That's because of growing Republican stupidity.

    Short.......simple........and so very true.

    January 28, 2009 05:37 pm at 5:37 pm |
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