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This is the first of what will be a four part series looking at the political geography of the states in order to get a better idea of how each party does outside of just the presidential elections.  I'll also compare Obama's 2008 electoral performance to an average of the 2004 and 2008 presidential elections as well as various statewide races since 2004 to understand which areas are more favorable or hostile to Democrats downballot.  Additionally, for states that have precinct average data on DRA I've mapped out the states at that level, but for every state I've also mapped the county level political geography.

The first set of maps will detail the partisan Average PVI comparing each county or precinct to the state at large.  The second set compares Obama's performance to the partisan average while controlling for the difference between Obama's numbers and the average statewide.  Thus, if a county is more Democratic on average than the state, but Obama did worse than his statewide numbers, he would underperform.  This gets somewhat distorted in states where Obama did significantly worse or better than average across the board, but is excellent in states where his statewide performance was similar.

All county level data is from Dave Leip's Atlas while all precinct level data was taken from Dave's Redistricting App.  You can click on most of the maps for a larger image.

Connecticut


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Partisan average includes 2004 and 2006 senate, and 2006 and 2010 governor, secretary of state, treasurer, attorney general, and comptroller.

Starting with Connecticut, you can see that there is a mild but clear pattern of Democrats doing better in the eastern counties than they do in the western ones.  I really wish I could efficiently organize data by town or precinct in New England, but counties will have to do.

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Looking at how Obama did relative to local Dems, for the most part the difference is minimal.  However, he did outperform a moderate amount in Fairfield County and underperformed modestly in the eastern part of the state.  This explains to me in part why Republicans such as Chris Shays were able to do well in Fairfield as the region is more open to Republicans down the ballot.

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Delaware


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Partisan average includes 2006, 2008, and 2010 senate, 2004 and 2008 governor, lieutenant governor, and insurance commissioner, 2006 and 2010 treasurer and auditor, and 2006 attorney general.
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Delaware only has three counties, so having precinct level data would have been more useful.  The northern and much more urban part of the state around Wilmington is the most Democratic as one would expect, while the southern counties are more Republican.

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Here you can see however, that Obama underperformed significantly in Sussex County which was common across the whole Delmarva Peninsula.

Maine


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Partisan average includes the 2006 and 2008 senate races which give it a Republican lean.
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Here's the partisan average PVI for Maine.  As would be expected by looking at Obama's numbers, the southern part of the state along the coast is generally more Democratic, while the north is more Republican.

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However, Obama modestly underperformed in the north of the state in areas that are largely in the 2nd congressional district.  To balance that out, he overperformed slightly in the west of the state.

For the most part, Democratic strength is dispersed throughout the state with Republicans having few areas of consistent advantage, at least on paper.

Maryland


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Partisan average includes 2004, 2006, and 2010 senate, 2006 and 2010 governor and comptroller, and 2006 attorney general.
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Jumping out immediately is that Democratic and Republican strength Maryland is quite concentrated.  Democrats do well in Baltimore and the DC suburbs while Republicans do well in the counties along the Pennsylvania border and Chesapeake Bay.

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Of note here is that Obama underperformed local strength by a considerable amount in the Eastern Shore and far western panhandle while performing better in the areas trending Democratic between DC and baltimore.

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The precinct level view shows even more just how polarized the state is geographically.

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Here it is noticeable just how much Obama underperforms on both sides of the Chesapeake while doing better in areas with a high percentage of minorities as well as parts of western Maryland.

Massachusetts


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Partisan average includes 2008 senate plus 2006 and 2010 senate and governor.
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Obama performs relatively similarly to local Democrats in Massachusetts.  At the precinct level, Obama's "underperformance" in places like Boston is simply due to maxing out in many precincts since he couldn't get more than 98% of the vote.

New Hampshire


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Partisan average includes races for 2004, 2008, and 2010 senate and 2004, 2006, 2008, and 2010 governor.
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Like with Maine, New Hampshire's counties are all relatively close to the statewide average which results in many areas being quite swingy.  Still, you can see that Democrats tend to do better in the western and northern parts of the state despite them being less urban.  Republicans tend to do better along the Merrimack River Valley which includes Manchester.

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Again, like Maine Obama's performance only modestly diverges from local Democrats, with him doing relatively better in the northern counties near Vermont and underperforming slightly along the Merrimack River Valley.

New Jersey


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Partisan average includes 2006 and 2008 senate and 2005 and 2009 governor
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Looking at the precinct level, it becomes clear that Obama performed above average in western New Jersey and Burlington County, while underperforming in Republican areas such as the Jersey Shore, but also in more Democratic areas in north Jersey.

New York


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Partisan average includes 2004, 2006, and both 2010 senate elections and 2006 and 2010 governor, attorney general, and comptroller.
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At the county level, Obama outperformed local Dems considerably in the more urban counties upstate, as well as those closest to the Canadian/Vermont border.  Downstate there is more of an urban/suburban divide with Obama performing significantly better in New York City itself while underperforming modestly in suburban/exurban Long Island and Westchester County.

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At the precinct level, Obama outperformed local Democrats in 2010 considerably in western New York, as well as most areas with high minority populations.  On the flip side, he underperforms local Dems by a massive margin in places like southern Brooklyn, largely due to the high proportion of orthodox Jews there.  Unfortunately the precinct averages just cover 2010.

Pennsylvania


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Pennsylvania


Partisan average includes 2004, 2006 and 2010 senate, 2006 and 2010 governor and 2004 and 2008 treasurer, attorney general, and auditor.
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Pennsylvania was easily my favorite state out of this group to see the patterns of Obama relative to local Dems.  As would be expected, he does much better in eastern Pennsylvania and the quickly Democratic trending Philadelphia suburbs as well the Republican strongholds of Lancaster and York.  Almost equally in the other direction, he underperforms Democrats by a quite large margin in the more socially conservative, economically liberal areas of western Pennsylvania around Pittsburgh.  Don't be mistaken though, the east/west divide isn't everything as Obama actually does better than local dems in Erie and the northern part of the "T" while managing to do worse in Appalachian parts of the east such as Schuylkill County aka Holdengrad.

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The differences are even more stark at the precinct level as you can see just how badly Obama fared in the Pittsburgh collar counties and Appalachia while doing much, much better in the Philly suburbs.  Interestingly, he also underperformed in northeast Philadelphia which I would not have suspected just based on county data and macro trends.

Rhode Island


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Partisan average includes 2006 senate, governor, lieutenant governor, secretary of state, and attorney general, 2008 senate, and 2010 secretary of state and treasurer.
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Again, like the rest of New England counties aren't the most appropriate way to view the region but provide relatively easy to find partisan data.  Obama performs fairly consistently with how local Democrats do, though in general does relatively worse in the heavily Democratic north and better in the more modestly Democratic south.

Vermont


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Partisan average includes 2004, 2006, and 2010 senate and governor, 2004, 2006, 2008, and 2010 lieutenant governor, 2006 secretary of state, 2006 and 2010 attorney general, and 2010 auditor.
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With Vermont there is a clear pattern of Democrats being stronger in the south of the state and relatively weaker in the north, particularly along the New Hampshire border.

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There is also a clear pattern of Obama overperforming in the north and underperforming in the south relative to what a blowout would look like for a local Democrat.

Conclusion
I hope you found these maps to be useful visualizations of the elections in each of these states.  As the purpose of this series is mostly to provide data and graphics, I welcome discussion as to why certain regions in states favor Democrats or Republicans and particularly why Obama's electoral performance diverges from local Democrats.  Part 2 will cover the southeastern United States.

Originally posted to sawolf on Tue Aug 21, 2012 at 08:55 AM PDT.

Also republished by These Green Mountains and Community Spotlight.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Great diary! (12+ / 0-)

    Really enjoyed reading it and look forward to reading future installments.

    A couple of note:

    1. The underperformance by Obama in Easter Baltimore County and in St. Mary's county was even more striking than I imagined. I hadn't realized just how poorly he did in Dundalk etc. and am surprised he underperformed worse in rural Southern Maryland than in the Eastern Shore.

    2. The underperformance in NE Philly while striking really isn't that surprising. the NE (and a pocket in South Philly South of Passyunk and West of Broad) are the last white, blue-collar Reagan Democrat strongholds in the city. Although NE Philly as a whole is probably trending in our direction due to demographic change, the neighborhoods that remain white and blue collar are definitely trending in the other direction. It's quite striking that some of Hillary Clinton's best precincts in the entire county were in NE Philly and that pocket of South Philly (including several where she got 90%+ of the vote). Inoljt had a very good take on this here: http://mypolitikal.com/...

    26, originally OK-1, currently NY-10. Former swingnut.

    by okiedem on Tue Aug 21, 2012 at 10:11:57 AM PDT

    •  urban blue collar areas (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Shockwave

      will be the next areas with a GOP trend.  That's my prediction and it seems pretty plausible.

      Which will actually be good for Democrats since we won't be quite so concentrated in the cities anymore.

      Blue collar Catholic areas in NE Philadelphia, Baltimore, Queens/Brooklyn (Orthodox as well as Catholic here) South Boston, Chicago, Cleveland, Buffalo, etc. are what I'm talking about, specifically.

      19, CA-18 (home), CA-13 (school)
      politicohen.com
      Socially libertarian, moderate on foreign policy, immigration, and crime, liberal on everything else.
      UC Berkeley; I think I'm in the conservative half of this city. -.5.38, -3.23

      by jncca on Tue Aug 21, 2012 at 11:15:00 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I agree but (big) but... (7+ / 0-)

        that most of the old blue collar white ethnic neighborhoods are rapidly disappearing. Although this is not universally true (the Orthodox neighborhoods in South Brooklyn are doing well for instance) for the most part such neighborhoods are rapidly losing their traditional population and becoming either non-white or white liberal professional.

        This process is observable throughout the country in places such as Bensonhurst, Canarsie, most of NE and South Philly, Canaryville, SW Chicago, Brooklyn (Baltimore), NE Baltimore etc.  

        26, originally OK-1, currently NY-10. Former swingnut.

        by okiedem on Tue Aug 21, 2012 at 11:28:42 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Good point (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Shockwave

          Blue collar Whites will soon be confined to the Rust Belt and rural areas, I guess.

          19, CA-18 (home), CA-13 (school)
          politicohen.com
          Socially libertarian, moderate on foreign policy, immigration, and crime, liberal on everything else.
          UC Berkeley; I think I'm in the conservative half of this city. -.5.38, -3.23

          by jncca on Tue Aug 21, 2012 at 03:44:46 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  This Diary needs to go on the Rec List, pls T&R (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Shockwave, sawolf

      terrific resource

      I belong to the “US” of America, not the “ME,$,ME,$,ME,$” of America!

      by SeaTurtle on Wed Aug 22, 2012 at 06:59:48 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  PA (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    sawolf, 42, dufffbeer, ArkDem14, Shockwave

    Well, in central PA the presence of college campuses make a difference, I believe. Centre (PSU), Union (Bucknell), Snyder (Susquehanna U), Lycoming (Lycoming College and PennTech), and Columbia (Bloomsburg U) counties, for example favored Obama. But there are college campuses all over PA, so that doesn't necessarily hold up.

    Staunch blue-collar, union, machine Dem strongholds like Cambria County (Murtha's old district) really don't like Obama.

    I'm baffled by the northern tier though. The eastern part, the Poconos, does have a lot of NY/NJ transplants - so that could be part of it.

    Thanks for the maps! They were a good distraction from seething Akin rage today.

  •  Maryland question (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    sawolf, Amber6541, Shockwave

    This is a hugely useful diary but am I reading Maryland wrong? McCain got 63% in Prince George's county? This has to be wrong, right?

  •  Cool! Obama got > 85% in New York County (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    sawolf, Amber6541, mayim, Shockwave

    (that is, Manhattan and my home county).

  •  Very nicely done. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    sawolf, Amber6541

    This reminds me, the northeasternmost county of Vermont was the only VT county to vote for W. Bush both times.  I guess what your map shows is that Democrats are locking in all VT counties by now.

    Hail to the king, baby.

    by KingofSpades on Tue Aug 21, 2012 at 10:58:44 AM PDT

    •  The Northeast Kingdom (0+ / 0-)

      area. With counties like Essex, a 6,700 person county that went 85 years without a residential homicide homicide.

      "Once, many, many years ago I thought I was wrong. Of course it turned out I had been right all along. But I was wrong to have thought I was wrong." -John Foster Dulles. My Political Compass Score: -4.00, -3.69, Proud member of DKE

      by ArkDem14 on Tue Aug 21, 2012 at 08:04:13 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Wow, what a lot of work. (4+ / 0-)

    I am really surprised, and disappointed, to see all of the pink, orange, red in the northeast.  
    Looks like there is a lot of ground work and candidate recruiting to do.

    Mother Teresa: "If we have no peace, it is because we have forgotten that we belong to each other."

    by Amber6541 on Tue Aug 21, 2012 at 02:46:49 PM PDT

    •  It probably took less than you might think (5+ / 0-)

      I was able to copy and paste a lot of the data to excel to organize and manipulate it, thankfully.

      Regarding the red in those states though, it's to mark it as more Republican than the state itself, not the nation as a whole.  In fact, in some of those states like Vermont or New York the first few shades on the red side would have actually been Democratic on average from 2004 to 2010.  It's more to give you an idea of which parts of a deep blue state like Vermont are more Republican or Democratic than the whole state, since just looking at Obama's 2008 numbers can make it harder to appreciate the differences.

      NC-06/NC-04; -9.00, -8.41; progress through pragmatism

      by sawolf on Tue Aug 21, 2012 at 04:24:07 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  new suburbs (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    sawolf, killjoy, Shockwave

    Think of well-educated economically-Republican mcmansion-filled suburbs that sprung up recently.  They are still very Republican but Obama definitely outperformed local Republicans in them.  They send Republicans to their state governments because they don't want their taxes to help the poor parts of their states, but they are somewhat more likely to vote for presidential Democrats because the national Republican platform scares them.  That explains what you saw in western New Jersey; Frederick County and northern Baltimore County; the area between Philadelphia and York; and probably even the scattered blue precincts around Pittsburgh.

    •  Yeah this is a pattern I've noticed across (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      dufffbeer, Shockwave

      most of the country.  Obama does slightly better in urban areas, particularly so if there was a large black population (or if Democrats didn't already get 99% there), he does about 3-4% better in certain suburban areas, then underperforms significantly in rural areas.  Obviously there are exceptions, but that pattern holds up fairly well nationwide.

      It's like whenever on DKE we've discussed what the hell an Obama/Allen voter looks like in Virginia, I have to stop myself and think that it's still probably going to happen just due to partisanship patterns in suburbs.

      NC-06/NC-04; -9.00, -8.41; progress through pragmatism

      by sawolf on Tue Aug 21, 2012 at 04:31:06 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  This is a really useful subthread (0+ / 0-)

        dufffbeer, thanks for explaining this:

        Think of well-educated economically-Republican mcmansion-filled suburbs that sprung up recently.[...]They send Republicans to their state governments because they don't want their taxes to help the poor parts of their states, but they are somewhat more likely to vote for presidential Democrats because the national Republican platform scares them.

        Formerly Pan on Swing State Project

        by MichaelNY on Thu Aug 23, 2012 at 12:36:23 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  New York - upstate/downstate divide (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    sawolf, Shockwave

    In State Assembly/State Senate elections, it's pretty much Downstate=Democrat and Upstate=Republican.  Tompkins County will vote Democratic for President and Republican in state elections, while southern Brooklyn will vote Republican for President and Democratic in state elections. That's why Obama clearly overperformed in Upstate and underperformed in Downstate.

    •  Tompkins County NY will not vote GOP (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      sawolf, Shockwave, dufffbeer

      in state elections, and it's even getting harder for them at the lower levels too. The majority of voters in the county have consistently voted for the Democrat in State elections for at least the past 8 years, probably longer. For example, Democrat Lifton slaughtered Republican Reynolds 2-years ago in the Assembly race and 4 years ago Barber (D) beat Seward (R) in Tompkins county for the 53rd district senate race while Seward won the race overall.  

      Don't be so afraid of dying that you forget to live.

      by LionelEHutz on Tue Aug 21, 2012 at 08:16:56 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Tompkins (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Shockwave, dufffbeer

        Yep, Tompkins is pure dark blue.  They do not vote Republican at any level.  The County Legislature is 12D-3R , with the Republicans coming from the rural areas of the county, mostly south of Ithaca.

        Tompkins County is dominated by Cornell University and Ithaca College.  Lots and lots of college students and liberal professors.  On top of that, many of the people that live in the city are of the artsy and/or hippy variety, another strong Dem group.

        dufffbeer may have looked at a state Senate map and concluded that upstate NY must not have any Democrats.  This is not true, it's just that gerrymandering of districts is so successful that Democrats get shut out in places like Ithaca and Rochester.

        NY-22 (old and new)

        by elucas730 on Wed Aug 22, 2012 at 05:45:19 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  Downstate (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      sawolf, Shockwave, dufffbeer

      Not entirely; Republicans have all 9 Long Island State Senate seats and 13 out of 21 State Assembly districts there.  NYC is a totally different story.

      You're an odd fellow, but you do make a good steamed ham.

      by Samara Morgan Dem on Tue Aug 21, 2012 at 09:01:17 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  then it's NYC vs rest of the state (0+ / 0-)

        You're right about the State Senate.  Long Island is still very Republican there.  So what caused Obama to underperform his party in Long Island?  It must be the Dem candidates for Senate and Governor who win Long Island by huge margins when Obama only won it narrowly.

  •  wow. lotta work. thank you. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    sawolf, Shockwave

    Dear Noah, The flyer said THURSDAY!!!! Seriously, WTF?!?!? jerk. sincerely, unicorns

    by bnasley on Tue Aug 21, 2012 at 09:27:30 PM PDT

  •  Simply awesome! (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Shockwave, sawolf

    -1.63/ -1.49 "Speaking truth to power" (with snark of course)!

    by dopper0189 on Tue Aug 21, 2012 at 10:19:06 PM PDT

  •  this is great (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Alibguy

    if you would like to do a county-based on for Oregon, since it doesn't have data on DRA, what kinds of races are you more interested in using for comparison, Gore, Kerry, and Merkley, as I think they're fairly typical of how Democrats do here, or something more like the gubernatorial races, which tend to feature more ancestral voting behavior?

  •  Any way we can get some extremely large pictures? (0+ / 0-)

    Especially of your precinct maps.

    Say, 2000 pixels or something like that.

    I'd be awfully interested in taking a look at that.

    http://mypolitikal.com/

    by Inoljt on Thu Aug 23, 2012 at 09:54:21 AM PDT

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