I thought this would be a fun little diary. Listed below are the 10 states that, for different reasons, are my favorite states to follow close elections in. All of the favorites are "coalition" states of some measure where, geographically, a variety of moving parts have to come together for the Democratic candidate to win rather than a single metropolitan area with a huge vote count. Most on the list have a history of producing close races that has helped to solidify my opinion of them as exciting states to track. After my 10 favorites, I'll add my three least favorite states regarding exciting statewide elections.....
First, my top 10....
2. South Dakota
I have an admitted home state bias with Minnesota, but is there any other state that has produced as many nailbiter elections in the last 20 years? The state's political baselines are changing, but it still requires a coalition of cities, farm, and factory towns to win in Minnesota. The fact that I know virtually every square inch of the state and the demographics and historical significance of almost every town and county make this far and away the best state for me to track.
As for the others, personal familiarity with the territory and the people has probably also influenced my selection of other Upper Midwest states like Iowa, Wisconsin, and South Dakota, but all of them have produced a lot of close elections in recent years, and require an interesting coalition of counties coming together on the path to victory.
Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Florida are all exciting for the obvious reason that they are swing states that produce a lot of close elections, but also because the political baselines are in a constant state of realignment meaning that the path to victory for the Democratic candidate in 2012 doesn't at all resemble the path to victory a Democrat may have pursued in 1992.
The final three--Kentucky, Arkansas, and Tennessee--are all exciting despite their movement towards Republicans because of the county coalitions needed to win each of them are fairly elaborate, so when a close election arises it's entertaining to see if there are still enough Yellow Dogs left in the rural enclaves to squeeze out a victory.
Now my bottom three....
There's only three counties in Delaware, so even when the results come in when the state has a rare close election, it's anti-climactic.
Kansas hardly ever has close races and I have a hard time getting into the state's county-by-county returns even in those rare instances when it does.
And Alaska doesn't even have regional returns publicly available beyond undefined election districts, making it far and away the least interesting state of the 50 for elections.
Eager to hear others' thoughts on favorite and least favorite states for elections....