January 28th, 2009
02:53 PM ET
8 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. Blue balloons

    They meant to say "sinking island" of red states.

    January 28, 2009 06:06 pm at 6:06 pm |
  2. Bruce

    Socialism? You mean like Russia or China where the Gov can do anything they want?
    Sounds like the last eight years to me..
    However, if it means sharing the wealth, who would want that anyway?
    Certainly not Rushy the Junky...
    He wants his but does not really care if the country goes "cold turkey".

    January 28, 2009 06:07 pm at 6:07 pm |
  3. moderate GOP

    The GOP needs to move back toward caring about every-day people or else it will fail permanently. I am a Republican, but recognize that change in our own party is needed. It's time for us to look in the mirror and realize we don't like what we see. It should be about championing our values, not simply focusing on winning elections at any cost. We need to bring trust, responsibility, decency, and principle back into the GOP, and we need to do it now.

    January 28, 2009 06:09 pm at 6:09 pm |
  4. Ravi in MO

    At first, my hopes were up. Then, I realized that this Gallup map reflects voter REGISTRATION numbers. As we know, many Dems vote Repub and vice versa. The map also tells us nothing about the largest group, independents. I find it nearly impossible to believe that states like LA, AR, KY, OK, WV, and especially MO would ever vote for a Black man, considering how these states are stuck in the 18th century.

    January 28, 2009 06:11 pm at 6:11 pm |
  5. Los

    So can someone please explain to me what this "center-right nation" crap that Rush and Hannity keep yelling about is based on?

    January 28, 2009 06:14 pm at 6:14 pm |
  6. John

    To the other John, Democrats are not socialists. We are Americans. Some things are better socialized like Fire/Police Services, Mail Service, Military. Now it looks like Banking and Medicare ought to be socialized. Capitalism should reign but it should be regulated. Regulation is not socialism. It is the people setting the rules of the game. I bought my house from a man who had to sell because he could not pay health insurance for his wife. He is in the Safety Industry (which depends on regulation) and he is a Veteran with a mental health history who depends on the VA for everything except heart & lung issues. He now lives in Idaho and has a friend who drives to Canada to get perscriptions. Yet, he is "afraid" of socialized medicine and still votes Republican. Can someone explain this?

    January 28, 2009 06:14 pm at 6:14 pm |
  7. Obama 2.0

    And now that all of the House Republicans voted no for the stimulus pkg, there will be more Democratic seats. They don't get it...YET!

    January 28, 2009 06:16 pm at 6:16 pm |
  8. Razorback

    Braeden, actually you are wrong. Arkansas has voted Republican in the past several presidential elections but a large majority of the state and national elected officials are Democrats. It's a strange duality for the state to vote one way in the presidential elections and another way in the state and national elections. Yup, Hukabee was governor for a while but that was a blip that most Arkansans we glad to get rid of!

    January 28, 2009 06:18 pm at 6:18 pm |
  9. The Austrian

    Is this a surprise to anyone?

    Two things need to happen:

    1) the GOP needs to actually be conservative and not promote a state-expanding, spend-happy agenda

    2) the Obama honeymoon needs to end (which time will take care of).

    January 28, 2009 06:18 pm at 6:18 pm |
  10. Poetic Justice

    Thanks Rush! The more you speak, the larger the shift to the Democratic Party. I love it. Keep on spreading that filth!

    January 28, 2009 06:18 pm at 6:18 pm |
  11. Linda32

    I have been listening to the Republicans say over and over again that they like President Obama, but no to there ideas. Hello!!!! We didn't vote him in just because we "like" him....he WON because we wanted his ideas to run this government. Deal with it.

    January 28, 2009 06:18 pm at 6:18 pm |
  12. Gary

    The Republicans will come back. But the way the country is trending, their values will mirror those of today's moderate or conservative Democrats. The Rush Limbaugh and Christian Coalition conservatives will be dinosaurs by 2025.

    January 28, 2009 06:18 pm at 6:18 pm |
  13. Bosworth

    Uh, a little early to declare the country permanently Democrat, isn't it? I recall a few years ago when everyone was handwringing over the demise of the Democratic Party.

    Laugh it up, I guess.

    January 28, 2009 06:19 pm at 6:19 pm |
  14. worriedmom

    Give it time. It will change. Pelosi and Reid will be the cause of it and then what are you Liberals gonna cry about and hate

    January 28, 2009 06:19 pm at 6:19 pm |
  15. paul

    Lets hope this is TRUE BLUE in 2010 and beyond.....

    January 28, 2009 06:20 pm at 6:20 pm |
  16. Farrell, Houston, Tx

    This is how Rush helps the Republicans. They don't get it and neither does Rush. END GAME.

    January 28, 2009 06:21 pm at 6:21 pm |
  17. Sean from KY

    The GOP has to choose what their future is in 2012. They can take a right wing ideologue like Sarah Palin or Huckabee proving they are in fact no different then they were in the Bush era or they can somehow find someone new that returns them to a more libertarian streak that americans once loved. Ron Paul will never win their nomination but a less extreme version of him would reshape the party into something independents could vote for.

    January 28, 2009 06:24 pm at 6:24 pm |
  18. Mark in Austin

    "Also on that list: Arizona and Texas, home states of the GOP’s last two presidential candidates."

    Please, please, please!!!! stop referring to Texas as Bush's home state. George W. Bush, like his brothers and father are from New England. G.W. Bush went to Yale, like his daddy (and actually failed to gain admission to the University of Texas), so can we please end the myth that he is from Texas. Thank you!

    January 28, 2009 06:25 pm at 6:25 pm |
  19. sean burns

    For years republicans have portrayed themselves as the party of the little guy, while all their policies benefited the rich elites and big businesses, to the detriment of the average American. Now the results of their philosophy(?) are apparent in the smoking ruins of our society and our virtually bankrupt government. Trickle down doesn't work. None of their plans work. The emperor has no clothes; no amount of fancy propaganda and Rovian fear- mongering can cover the absolute shambles they have made of EVERYTHING.

    January 28, 2009 06:28 pm at 6:28 pm |
  20. New immigrant

    Would sure like to see and would be delighted to have more blue
    states taken from Republican terrorists.

    January 28, 2009 06:30 pm at 6:30 pm |
  21. joe

    Turns red to blue real easily when the government promises free money to the non-producers of the world.

    January 28, 2009 06:32 pm at 6:32 pm |
  22. Lori

    Go blue Go! I'm sick of the Republicans divisive politics. I don't know what they stand for, just who and what they hate.

    I love the sea of blue!

    January 28, 2009 06:33 pm at 6:33 pm |
  23. itbeme

    good grief....we just got done with one election, and you're already making predictions about the next one???

    maybe we should wait and see how things go for a few months.....blue could change to red just as easy as the other direction.

    January 28, 2009 06:33 pm at 6:33 pm |
  24. Barbara Middletown NY

    The reasons for this are becoming more clear everyday. Every Republican in Congress just voted against the economic stimulus plan. In addition to giving rich people tax cuts, it appears that the Republicans only want to help out corporations and banks. They don't care about the American people. Their rhetoric is empty and their motives are vindictive.

    January 28, 2009 06:37 pm at 6:37 pm |
  25. Vivienne

    The Democrats will hopefull not blow it! I believe the country realizes what a bunch of dumb a&* morons are left in the Republican party. They are a narrow minded group of individuals. They are hateful and small minded. They encourage people to not be curious because they need empty headed people to follow them. A curious person doesn't belong with a party like the Republicans. I believe they are jumping ship and becoming Independents. Hopefully we will still end up with a two party system; Independents and Democrats with the Republicans taking their new designation as a fringe party (something similar to the Green Party).

    GO AWAY YOU LOSERS!

    January 28, 2009 06:39 pm at 6:39 pm |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9