January 28th, 2009
02:53 PM ET
7 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. not surprised

    "There are no red states, there are no blue states…"

    Exactly, Amber... I don't think that map matters much. It's a very polarizing way to describe the country. I live in California, a very blue state, and have a number of friends who are republicans (bless their hearts – lol)... But we all have the same issues facing us (employment loss, fighting to save a house, raising families or caring for aging parents...)

    January 28, 2009 05:37 pm at 5:37 pm |
  2. No Incumbents 2010

    Must be something contaminating our drinking water.

    January 28, 2009 05:40 pm at 5:40 pm |
  3. Carl from MI

    People are tired of the Republican Culture of Corruption. It doesn't take a weatherman to tell us which way the wind was blowing when our nation went right into the ditch!!

    The more Republicans embrace Rush, Sean, Bill-O the Clown, Ann, FIX-ed News and everything else that is out of touch with modern-day America... the more they become a remote piece of irrelevent history.

    Nobody cares about Republicans anymore... they have become a true Culture of Corruption. It's over...

    January 28, 2009 05:42 pm at 5:42 pm |
  4. Some Like It Hot

    It's sad that we are a divided country! What happen to the USA when Sept 11, 2001 happened? Some how we all came together and we need to do it again. We all have different beliefs and we are with different political parties but we need to come together!!!!

    January 28, 2009 05:43 pm at 5:43 pm |
  5. Jon in CA

    "The republican party is doomed."

    And Saddam Hussein said we'd never invade. Funny how winning an election gets liberals thinking everyone's a democrat.

    Quick reminder.... Since Jimmy Carter was outsted in 1980... (28 years ago) only TWO democrats have won the White House: Clinton and Obama.

    But yall libs go ahead and start counting those 'democrat chickens' before they hatch.

    January 28, 2009 05:45 pm at 5:45 pm |
  6. Charles at Atlanta

    Younger and newer generation are more tolorant and they use new tools to get information and refresh their thinking. Many people were inspired by Reagan and joined GOP and were the stronghold of today's GOP. After 8 years of Bush disastrous administration, many moderate Rebpulican are forced to leave the party. And now many people are inspired by Obama. The trend of blue will continue to grow into next generation.

    January 28, 2009 05:45 pm at 5:45 pm |
  7. Task

    That is the dumbest map I've ever seen Oklahoma is listed as leaning democrat. McCain won that state by an even bigger majority than Alaska. He got over 70% of the votes there. Texas isn't red and everyone knows that's one of the reddest states on the planet. This map is just wishful thinking by some ignorant democrat.

    January 28, 2009 05:46 pm at 5:46 pm |
  8. SF Serg

    The only Republican left if Rush Limbaugh. His big mouth and fat body can easily fill in the remaining red states.

    January 28, 2009 05:47 pm at 5:47 pm |
  9. Jason

    Thank you Sarah Palin, it's all because of people like you.

    January 28, 2009 05:47 pm at 5:47 pm |
  10. Danny in Chicago

    YAY

    January 28, 2009 05:47 pm at 5:47 pm |
  11. spudmctater

    If Nebraska only "leans" Republican and Kansas and the deep south is "competitive," the GOP had better do some serious thinking about what they represent. The "party of Lincoln"? Hardly!

    January 28, 2009 05:49 pm at 5:49 pm |
  12. Simmy

    Amber,

    There are states that have been called red for decades. The same for blue states. President Obama changed the philosophy by saying that there are no red states and no blue states, but the United States of America. In theory I know that to be true. Nevertheless, there are people who live in certain states like Kentucky, Miss., Louisiana, who believe in the power of red. So as long as these people feel that way, there will be Democrats fighting to gain control of that part of the country. Thus we have Red states and Blue states. Go Blue!

    January 28, 2009 05:50 pm at 5:50 pm |
  13. Constitutional Lawyer

    This is true when simply looking at the states as a whole, but as the old story goes, one can prove anything they wish simply by using statistics. However, this is a perfect example of the media influencing and making a story. If you look more closely at the county level, you will see an almost completely red map with the exception of the West coast, New England, and the upper Central area where the unions are heavily entrenched. Similarly, along the bottom, one will see the Hispanic growth. This is nothing new here, except the new blue states that were gained were "winner take all" states in the election, i.e. 50.1 vs 49.9 results in a victory for the blue. This is the real story of how important the swing vote actually is. Who knows how it will swing the nest time.

    January 28, 2009 05:51 pm at 5:51 pm |
  14. Coherent1

    The Republican Party will be back and reenergized in 2020. I predicted this during the campaign, while realizing how the party I once considered, was dying a slow death. Hopefully, there strategy would include younger fresher minds, not easily molded into the crafty, politically aggrandized minds our current leaders have come to be. They are no longer the party of values, but the party of political ruffhousing. Greed will do it every time. Opposition is needed to keep the country well balanced. But they've created hostility with their hold out tactics, leaving the American people hanging in the balance. They were exposed during the campaign, and so far, having lot of trouble separating themselves from their old way. Good Luck, many blessings, and see ya' in 2020.

    January 28, 2009 05:53 pm at 5:53 pm |
  15. Pinckney

    I thought we were all one people-Americans. Guess I was wrong.

    January 28, 2009 05:53 pm at 5:53 pm |
  16. ran

    If the republicans do not get on board and start to work for the people, we may have only one party. Most americans have had enough of the hate/division coming out of the republicans. If being blue will get this country back for the people then i say good.

    January 28, 2009 05:53 pm at 5:53 pm |
  17. Robert

    Dems should not get too smug! The American electorate is very fickle, and will turn on them at the first opportunity. The Repubs were riding high after the '92 election, but look at them now. Everything is cyclical, including political fortunes.

    January 28, 2009 05:55 pm at 5:55 pm |
  18. ree NY

    Things can turn around in two years. The Dems can hang themselves. The only way Pelosi and Reid got away with doing nothing for the last two years was because of Obama.

    I am a Democrat who is now going to vote for the person and not the party. Still not sure if I trust Obama.

    January 28, 2009 05:55 pm at 5:55 pm |
  19. Rick

    Give Obumbler a couple of years and the entire map will be red.

    January 28, 2009 05:58 pm at 5:58 pm |
  20. Otto

    We need more RUSH that will speed up their down fall.

    January 28, 2009 06:00 pm at 6:00 pm |
  21. Ray

    More evidence of the Grand Old Party becoming Grandpa's Old Party. GO BLUE!

    January 28, 2009 06:01 pm at 6:01 pm |
  22. cnn junkie

    you would think Rush,Hannity and Co would change course,...shaking head

    January 28, 2009 06:01 pm at 6:01 pm |
  23. Minnesota

    Its truly the difference between open mindedness and those that so easily sway to whatever hate/fear mongering the Repubs always used to get away with.

    Rove's strategy worked so well the conservative movement is still thinking its the light at the end of their long dark tunnel.

    But they've taken a wrong turn. Rather than listen to the majority of our citizens they are in denial and believe it was a fluke and that had they just been "even more conservative" on things they'd have won.

    Good luck with that!

    January 28, 2009 06:03 pm at 6:03 pm |
  24. Rorschach

    After the 1994 election, the local Repubs bought billboard space in my city for the following ad: "The Democratic Party is dead in Texas".

    Be nice to the people you meet on the way up, fellers. You'll be seeing the same people on the way down.

    January 28, 2009 06:03 pm at 6:03 pm |
  25. Global Karma

    you are dividing America further deep ?

    January 28, 2009 06:04 pm at 6:04 pm |
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