Friday, January 30, 2009

Four purple states that could turn blue

According to the exit polls, voters under 30 were more supportive of Barack Obama than those over 65 in every single state. There was a wide disparity among the states though in terms of the size of the generation gap between young voters and senior citizens, ranging from just five points in Georgia to a high of 66 points in Ohio.

Four of the six states where that disparity hit 49 points or more were among the most hotly contested battlegrounds of the 2008 election. They all went blue this year and given the huge difference in voting patterns along generational lines in each of them, they could go from purple to blue in another few decades as the more conservative voters age out. Here’s a look at Ohio, North Carolina, Indiana, and Nevada.


Barack Obama took the Buckeye state by a little under five points. He lost by 11 points with voters over 65 but won by a staggering 55 with those under 30.

It’s not surprising that senior citizens gave McCain a double digit victory in the state. Since 1976 the Republican candidate for President has done better in Ohio than he did in the popular vote nationally in every election except 2004, when John Kerry’s margin of defeat in the state was three tenths of a point less than it was on a national basis.

As that reliably Republican demographic ages out and these younger, considerably more Democratic voters become a larger segment of the state’s electorate it could become a more solidly blue state. One caveat though: Ohio has one of the slower growth rates in the country and if these young voters move out of the state in disproportionate numbers it could slow the state’s political transformation.

North Carolina:

The Tar Heel state provided Barack Obama’s narrowest victory in the country, and young voters had a lot to do with it. He racked up a 48 point victory with that demographic while losing senior citizens by 13 points for an overall generational disparity of 61 points.

North Carolina, like Ohio, has tended to vote a good deal more Republican than the nation as a whole. Since 1964 its Presidential vote has come down that way every time except 1976 and 1980 when the state gave a higher level of support to Jimmy Carter from the neighboring state of Georgia than he received nationally.

In migration is helping to fuel the blueward trend in the state. A PPP study conducted last August found there was a 13 point difference in the Presidential margin between voters who were born in North Carolina and those who were not, with the newcomers going strongly for the Democrat. There’s no reason to believe the population expansion in the state is going to stop any time soon, and at this point it’s moving the state in a more progressive direction.

The voters who put Jesse Helms into office time and time again are being replaced in the electorate by these much more progressive younger voters. They put Obama over the top this year, and they could have the state wearing a darker shade of blue by the 20s or 30s.


An 80 year old person in Indiana may have cast their first vote for President in 1952. That generation of voters in the state has been exceedingly Republican. In every single election over the last 56 years the state has given a higher percentage of its vote to the GOP candidate than he received in the nation as a whole, and in all but a few of those contests the Republican has run at least ten points better in Indiana than in the national popular vote.

Those older votes who have made the state deep red time and time again still delivered for John McCain this year, giving him their votes by a 24 point margin. But the segment of the electorate under the age of 30 gave Barack Obama its vote by an even wider 28 point spread.

In 2006 the state saw major gains for Democrats in its Congressional delegation, and in 2008 the new generation of voters gave Barack Obama a surprising victory in the state. The Democratic trend of younger voters in the state and the aging of the most consistently Republican ones has the potential to make Democratic Presidential victories in the future more of a regular thing than the novelty it was last year.


Nevada saw one of the largest movements in the country between 2004 and 2008, going from voting for George W. Bush to not only electing Barack Obama, but giving him a surprisingly high 12 point margin of victory.

Although the state did vote for Bill Clinton twice, he didn’t earn better than 44% of the vote either time and other than those two instances it had not voted Democratic since the Johnson landslide of 1964. The older voters who helped make it such a consistently Republican state over the years voted that way again in 2008, giving John McCain their vote by 13 points.

Younger voters in the state, however, went for Obama by 13 points. The Democratic youth movement is also being fueled by the increase in the state’s Hispanic vote. Even just from 2004 to 2008 their share of the electorate increased from 10% to 15%, and last year they gave their votes to Obama by a 76-22 margin. It seems safe to say it won’t be another 44 years before a Democrat gets over 50% of the vote in the state.


mvymvy said...

The National Popular Vote bill would guarantee the Presidency to the candidate who receives the most popular votes in all 50 states (and DC).

Every vote would be politically relevant and equal in presidential elections.

The bill would take effect only when enacted, in identical form, by states possessing a majority of the electoral votes—that is, enough electoral votes to elect a President (270 of 538). When the bill comes into effect, all the electoral votes from those states would be awarded to the presidential candidate who receives the most popular votes in all 50 states (and DC).

The bill is currently endorsed by 1,246 state legislators — 460 sponsors (in 48 states) and an additional 786 legislators who have cast recorded votes in favor of the bill.

The National Popular Vote bill has been endorsed by the New York Times, Chicago Sun-Times, Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Los Angeles Times, Boston Globe, Hartford Courant, Miami Herald, Sarasota Herald Tribune, Sacramento Bee, The Tennessean, Fayetteville Observer, Anderson Herald Bulletin, Wichita Falls Times, The Columbian, and other newspapers. The bill has been endorsed by Common Cause, Fair Vote, and numerous other organizations.

In Gallup polls since 1944, only about 20% of the public has supported the current system of awarding all of a state’s electoral votes to the presidential candidate who receives the most votes in each separate state (with about 70% opposed and about 10% undecided). The recent Washington Post, Kaiser Family Foundation, and Harvard University poll shows 72% support for direct nationwide election of the President. This national result is similar to recent polls in Arkansas (80%), California (70%), Colorado (68%), Connecticut (73%), Delaware (75%), Kentucky (80%), Maine (71%), Massachusetts (73%), Michigan (73%), Mississippi (77%), Missouri (70%), New Hampshire (69%), Nebraska (74%), Nevada (72%), New Mexico (76%), New York (79%), North Carolina (74%), Ohio (70%), Pennsylvania (78%), Rhode Island (74%), Vermont (75%), Virginia (74%), Washington (77%), and Wisconsin (71%).

The National Popular Vote bill has passed 22 state legislative chambers, including one house in Arkansas, Colorado, Maine, Michigan, North Carolina, and Washington, and both houses in California, Hawaii, Illinois, New Jersey, Maryland, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Vermont. The bill has been enacted by Hawaii, Illinois, New Jersey, and Maryland. These four states possess 50 electoral votes — 19% of the 270 necessary to bring the law into effect.


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