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Lawton Chiles famously said that Bill Clinton "knows how to speak cracker", and Clinton's drawling persona and successful performances in the 1992 and 1996 Presidential elections have contributed to his image as a kind of avatar of Appalachia--a politician whose ability to woo the "white working classes", as they are nearly inevitably described, has become legendary.  

This legend was still powerful in 2008, when Hillary Clinton's success among so-called "beer track" voters was said to owe much to her husband's successes, and it's still powerful today, when I feel like pundits are constantly speculating about what folksy idioms and charming arguments Bill Clinton might have been using to secure those "white working class" voters that Barack Obama is said to have trouble with.  

No one has ever accused Mike Dukakis of knowing "how to speak cracker".  He didn't do very well in 1988, and is remembered as a kind of prissy "bloodless suburban reformer", as Mark Schmitt wonderfully put it.  So I crunched the numbers on where Clinton improved on Dukakis the most, both in 1992 and 1996, and I think Clinton's legendary "bubba" abilities are a partial myth.  Just a partial myth--he indeed did well in Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, and in his home state of Arkansas.  But he also did well in California, Illinois, Michigan, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, and Ohio--oh, and not the parts of Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Ohio you're probably thinking of.  Let's learn more.  

Introduction:

My data set was a lovely spreadsheet of Presidential results by Congressional District courtesy of David Nir.  Images of the districts are mostly from OurCampaigns, with the timer set to the appropriate year, unless I've said and linked otherwise.

Unfortunately, Ross Perot's performances make things difficult to work with.  Here is a chart of the change in Democratic vote share vs. the change in Republican vote share from 1988 to 1992 (the two years are rounded differently, but whatever, although this might make some of the "on the list"/"off the list" distinction a little arbitrary):

As you can see, there really isn't any correlation at all.  In other words, you get (somewhat) different districts if you look for where Bill Clinton improved the most on Mike Dukakis than if you look for where Bush lost the most ground.  

This makes it likely (I think?) that Perot took more from Clinton in some areas and more from Bush in others.

Some perspectives do have Clinton doing well in the South.  For example, many Southern districts had some of the most favorable trends for Clinton if you look by the change in Democratic vote share--but some of the least favorable trends if you look by the change in Republican vote share.  I don't really know how to make sense of that.

Now, unfortunately, several states changed their districts by 1996--including in Texas, Georgia, Louisiana, and Florida.  This guy counts 26 changed districts, but I think he was a little too lax.  I'm omitting all 7 from Louisiana, the 13 redrawn Texas districts, Florida's "3rd, 4th, 5th, and 6th" (as the Harvard guy said), and all of Georgia's 11 districts other than the "5th, 7th, and 9th districts".  

(I'm now questioning whether I should have included GA-05--it changed a little, and if I include it, maybe I should have included GA-06, which also changed a little, or LA-02.  Still, I don't think that matters too much.  My angst is mostly because I wanted to compare the 105 best 1996 districts with the 105 best 1992 districts, which is arbitrary anyway.)

That leaves 403 districts.  Here's the same chart for those 403:

As you can see, it's much more linear, which means it's much easier to tell where Clinton improved the most on Dukakis in 1996.  The districts where Clinton gained the most relative to Dukakis were also the districts where Dole lost the most relative to Bush, more or less.

1992 vs. 1996

Fortunately, you get pretty similar stories looking at the two cycles, in my opinion.  

As you can see, the change in Democratic two-party share from 1988 to 1992 is quite well-correlated with the change in Democratic raw vote share from [edit] 1988 to 1996.  (Again, these are only those 403 districts.)

Indeed, if you wanted to look at the top-ranked 105 districts by each measure--again, among my marginally-arbitrary 403 districts--62 districts would be on both lists, enough to identify most of the regions we'll be looking at.  That means there are 43 top-ranked districts by the 1992 metric that we won't be looking at.  Nearly all of these are in states that we'll be looking at anyway, so I'll note them when they appear.  

Aside from that, if we were focusing on 1992, we'd have to include a few districts in Missouri--the suburban MO-02 and MO-03 and the rural, and Arkansas-bordering, MO-08--as well as the two districts that made up Nevada at the time, and Vermont's at-large district  There was also much more of Tennesee.

Summary:

Despite the similarities, I think the 1996 data is a little less "messy" (and arguably it helps my point a bit more), so that's what I'll be using in the below maps.  

[edit:] To be clear, the below maps use Clinton's raw vote share compared to Dukakis'.

We'll be looking at the hundred districts outside of Georgia and Louisiana where Clinton's 1996 vote share improved the most on Dukakis' 1988 vote share.  Actually, we'll look at a few more than that, since there isn't a cutoff at 100.  Rather, we'll look at all 105 districts where Clinton's 1996 vote share improved by at least 7.8 points from Dukakis' in 1988, although sometimes I'll round that off when I'm discussing it.

We'll also look at some of the 96 districts (again, of these) where Clinton's vote share in 1996 was actually less than Dukakis'.

When I refer to the 1992 "best" list, I mean that Clinton's share of the two-party vote improved by at least 9.8 points over Dukakis', but those won't be on the maps.

One of my points will be that some political trends have continued and some haven't.

For example, two of the three districts in the currently red-trending West Virginia make our "worst" list:

As did three of the (then) six districts in the currently blue-trending Colorado:

Only Arkansas, Arizona, California, Connecticut,  Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Massachusetts, Maryland, Maine, Michigan, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, and Virginia have districts on the 1996 "best" list.  

They mostly form a few contiguous "clusters"--contiguous even across state lines--and where it's relevant I'll try to talk about the differences between the 1988-1992 list and the 1988-1996 list.

But here are some general notes:

1. A great many of the districts fall along the greater "Acela corridor" , or what the Census has called the "several stretches of continuously built-up area, especially evident from Petersburg, VA to Lewiston, ME".  (Possible h/t to David Jarman for that link.)

2. In fact, we'd have the entire Boston/Washington corridor--and stretching on into Portland, Maine--except for a few breaks in Maryland, Connecticut and Rhode Island.

3. Many of Clinton's very biggest improvements were in heavily Hispanic districts.  In fact, at least 4 of the 5 districts with the largest "Clinton 1996-Dukakis 1988 score"  fit that description:

1. NJ-13 (Hoboken/Newark)
2. IL-04 (Chicago earmuffs)
3. FL-21 (outer Miami)
4. FL-21 (Alcee Hastings' district)
5. CA-33 (East Los Angeles)
4. Dukakis famously over-performed in rural areas like Iowa, but I hadn't realized just how badly he under-performed in urban areas, and/or how much those areas have changed politically.  The Duke lost districts like PA-03 (Northeast Philadelphia), IL-05 (North Chicago), MI-13 (Ann Arbor), MI-16 (Detroit), and MD-08 (Montgomery County)--all of which made our list.  I'll also be noting these below.

Since I can go in whatever order I want, let's start with...

Pennsylvania:

No, I'm not using the "U.S. Election Atlas" reverse color scheme, and I didn't accidentally use Barack Obama's numbers.  

In 1996, Clinton improved on Dukakis the most in the Philly districts of PA-01 and PA-03 and in the suburban Philly districts of PA-07 and PA-13.  Dukakis lost all of these except for PA-01, even losing PA-03, which seems to be basically entirely contained in Philadelphia! He lost PA-07 by 28 points and PA-13 by 20 points.

But in 1992, Clinton won PA-03 in a landslide, won PA-13 by 4 points, and only lost PA-07 by 4 points.  (He also narrowly won PA-08, which made the 1992 list but not the 1996 list.)  And by 1996, Clinton won them all, along with PA-08.

Meanwhile, those western PA districts--PA-04, PA-09, PA-12, PA-14. PA-18, PA-20, PA-21? The ones where Hillary Clinton cleaned up in the primaries and where we've all had to listen to endless crap about how terrible it is for Democrats that they nominated an Ivy League lawyer like Barack Obama instead of, uh, Bill or Hillary Clinton?  

Yep--in 1996, Clinton actually lost ground relative to Dukakis in all of them, and they were all among Clinton's 100 worst districts relative to Dukakis nationwide.  Most of them were probably among Clinton's worst districts relative to Dukakis in 1992 as well.  And in this case, the loss sometimes even extended to decreased margins of victory.  For example, Dukakis carried PA-04 by 18 points and carried PA-12 by 10, when Clinton only won them by 5 and 6 points respectively.

In fact, in 1996 Clinton lost more of Dukakis' vote share in PA-04 than in any other district in the country.

Delaware:

Just in case you were wondering what it looks like.  Clinton held steady at Dukakis' 44% in 1992 but got 52% in 1996--enough for a decisive win.

New Jersey:

Yep.  The whole damn state of New Jersey--all 13 districts--ends up on our list.  As I noted above, Clinton's single biggest 1996 gain relative to Dukakis in the country was in NJ-13, on the Hudson River across from New York City.  Most of these districts didn't make the 1992 list, except for the suburban Philly districts of NJ-01, NJ-02, and NJ-03.


New York:

New York puts a full 16 districts into our 1996 list.  Basically, in 1996, Clinton notched significant improvements over Dukakis in all of "downstate" New York, except for the Manhattan districts of NY-08, NY-14, and NY-15 and the African-American Brooklyn district of NY-11.  Many of these districts didn't make the 1992 list, although the Long Island ones did.  NY-14, for some reason, would have barely made the 1992 list but not the 1996 list.

Connecticut:

My home district might be among the least "bubba" districts in the country, and, between demographic changes and boundary changes, it was even less so back in 1996.  But in that election, Clinton went from Dukakis' 16-point loss at 42% to an 11-point win at 51%.  (Clinton got 42% in 1992, too, but that was enough to only lose the district narrowly.)  It wouldn't have made the 1992 list, but CT-02, covering the eastern part of the state, would have.

Illinois:

Chicagoland and especially outer Chicagoland went strongly in the Democratic direction.  The districts IL-03, IL-04, IL-05, IL-06, IL-08, IL-09, IL-10, IL-11, and IL-13 all made the 1996 list.  

Of these districts--basically all of Chicagoland except the majority-black parts--Dukakis only carried IL-04 (the notorious "earmuffs" Chicago district) and IL-09 (the Sid Yates "lakefront liberal" district).  Somehow, Dukakis actually lost IL-05, which isn't even Chicagoland!  It's the Rosty/Blago/Rahm/Quigley North Chicago district!  The Duke got killed in IL-03 (Lipinskiland) and IL-10 (Mark Kirk's territory), losing both of these very different districts by identical 22-point margins.

In 1992, Clinton flipped IL-03, IL-05, and IL-11 (the southernmost district).  In 1996, Clinton kept all those and added IL-10.  

But Clinton lost ground in the "downstate" districts of IL-19 and IL-20 in 1996, although oddly IL-19 made the 1992 "best" list.

Virginia and Maryland:

(Unfortunately, I'm having trouble finding the relevant map for Virginia, which redrew its districts after 1996.)

Yep--the D.C. suburbs were definitely emerging by 1996.  MD-04, MD-05, and MD-08 all made the 1996 list, as did the NoVA districts of VA-08, VA-11, the Virginia Beach-based VA-02, and--more narrowly--VA-01 and VA-07, which connected NoVA to the Richmond and Virginia Beach regions.  

Dukakis lost MD-05(by 16 points!) and MD-08, but Clinton won all three in 1992 and again in 1996.  By 1996, he was winning MD-05 by 10.  (Ben Cardin's MD-03--more of a Baltimore-centered district--made the 1992 list but not the 1996 list.)

Dukakis also lost all five Virginia districts.  Clinton only carried VA-08 in 1992, narrowly losing VA-11, but he won them both in 1996.  He never won VA-02, but Dukakis lost it by a monster 32 points, and Clinton managed to close the gap to 4.  (Or, to be more consistent, he went from Dukakis' 34% to 44% by 1996.)  Clinton never won VA-01 and VA-07 either--they're pretty far down the list--but he did improve on Dukakis' vote share by 7.8 points in each one by 1996.

Massachusetts:

Dukakis' home state effect apparently couldn't trump the Democratic trend in his state, as six of Massachusetts' districts land on our 1996 list.  Dukakis actually lost MA-05--the Northern, Lowell-based district--and he only narrowly won MA-03 (the Worcester-based, Rhode Island-bordering district) and MA-09.  MA-09!  Downtown Boston, South Boston, and Milton!  (And some more suburbs.)  That was only a 52/48 Dukakis district.  But Clinton carried them all with ease in 1992 and 1996.

Only MA-05 made the 1992 list--perhaps a "hangover" after initial Dukakis home state effect wore off.

New Hampshire and Maine:

Clinton's 1996 over-performance continued up the "northern corridor" from Massachusetts into New Hampshire and Maine.  Dukakis lost both districts in New Hampshire by at least 24 points, but Clinton managed to slightly improve on his vote share even in 1992, winning NH-02 and narrowly losing NH-01.  Clinton had big improvements in both by 1996, and easily took both districts.  

Meanwhile, ME-01 was a very strong Perot district, but Clinton did go from Dukakis' 44% to 52% in 1996.  (ME-02 made the 1992 list.)

Ohio:

No, I didn't switch the colors for Ohio, either.  Clinton actually lost ground, relative to Dukakis, in OH-14, OH-17, and OH-18, in 1996.  It was narrow, but his vote share was smaller in all three of these seemingly Bubba-loving districts.  Of course, I should say that Clinton did win OH-18 by 12 points, while Dukakis lost it by 4--both with about 48% of the vote, though.  (Clinton's 1992 two-party vote share improved on Dukakis' by notably small amounts in OH-01, OH-11, and OH-19, but those might be Perot flukes.)    

Meanwhile, Ohio might be the quintessential "Clinton Democrat" state, but Clinton had a huge improvement in the quintessential "Obama Democrat" area: Columbus.  Dukakis only managed 34% in OH-15, losing by 32 points, but in 1996, Clinton got up to 44%, and only lost by 4.  Even in 1992, things were headed that way--OH-15 would have made that list too  As for the Dayton-based OH-03, Dukakis lost it by 16 points, but Clinton managed to carry it by 9 points by 1996.

California:

(For additional detail in the Los Angeles area, I used this map from the "Rose Institute of State and Local Government".)

This is one of the most interesting states so far, with numerous districts on both our "best" and "worst" 1992 and 1996 lists, and even some that were on the "best" for one year but the "worst" of the other.

First, the best: The story here is all in SoCal and mostly in Los Angeles County, as the districts CA-25, CA-26, CA-28, CA-31, CA-33, CA-34, CA-38, CA-41, CA-46 all trended Democratic.  Dukakis, for example, lost the Long Beach-based CA-38 by 12 points, but Clinton won it by 11 in 1992 and by 17 in 1996.  Clinton even managed to win Bob Dornan's district in Orange County, CA-46, in 1996.

On the other hand, Clinton's 1996 vote share was lower than Dukakis' across much of Northern California.

Nearly half--21 out of 43--of the top-ranked 1992 districts that missed our 1996 cutoff are in California.  Most of them are also in Southern California and, as it happens, they cover much of SoCal that the 1996 districts don't: The Ventura County-based CA-23, the Los Angeles County districts CA-24, CA-27, CA-29, and CA-36, the San Bernadino County-based CA-40 and CA-42, a few more O.C. districts like CA-45, CA-47, the San Diego/Imperial districts CA-49, CA-50, CA-51, and CA-52, and the Riverside district CA-44.  I don't know exactly why these districts seem to have "bounced back" by 1996, but SoCal, in general, was probably trending Democratic.

Most of the rest of the 1992 districts that missed the 1996 list are in the Bay Area--CA-06, CA-07, CA-10, CA-13, CA-14--while CA-15 and CA-17 run down the coast to Santa Cruz and Monterey counties.

Florida:

Clinton improved on Dukakis throughout Florida in both 1992 and 1996.  In 1996, the biggest improvements were in the Miami districts: FL-21 and FL-23, as I noted above, as well as in Carrie Meek's FL-17, FL-19, FL-20, FL-18, FL-22, and FL-16.  

Bill McCollum's Orlando-area FL-08 had a marked improvement as well, and--farther down on the list--the famous "I-4 region" continues to make appearances with Orlando-area districts like FL-07 and the Tampa-based FL-11.

A few northern (or perhaps Southern) Florida districts would have made the 1992 list--the "panhandle" FL-02, and perhaps Corrine Brown's FL-03, and FL-05 on the north Gulf Coast if we let them in (they're not on our list since they were redrawn later).  

Michigan:

Following the patterns we've seen, Clinton improved on Dukakis throughout Detroit and outer Detroit.  

Of the blue districts, Dukakis only carried the heavily African American Detroit district MI-14.  He even lost Lynn Rivers' Ann Arbor district MI-13 and John Dingell's MI-16!  (Dukakis must have been a really lousy fit for these kinds of districts.)

But Clinton won both easily in 1992, albeit without improving on Dukakis' vote share by much, and also flipped MI-12 (Sandy Levin's district).

And by 1996, Clinton managed to carry every one of the blue districts.  He particularly improved on Dukakis in the Northwestern "peripheral" districts of MI-11(then represented by Joe Knollenberg), as well as in David Bonior's MI-10 and in MI-12.

Meanwhile, the Indiana-bordering MI-06 and MI-07 made the 1992 list but not the 1996 list.

Arizona:

Yes, Arizona, and in fact, the three districts on our list--AZ-01, AZ-03, and AZ-04--correspond to some current swing areas.  AZ-01 at the time was very similar to the current AZ-09, at least superficially (the population might have changed significantly), and AZ-04 wasn't too far from some of the swingier legislative districts.  AZ-03, on the other hand, was probably the most rural district we've seen so far.

Dukakis lost all three by at least 30 points.  Clinton had similar vote shares, but much closer margins, in 1992.  By 1996, Clinton was able to nearly tie AZ-01 (losing by about half a point), to get within 4 points in AZ-04, and to get within 7 points in AZ-03.  

Arkansas:

Photobucket

No surprise that all four of the districts in Clinton's home state end up on our list.

Tennessee:

TN1996real

TN-08  and TN-09 border Arkansas, and Tennessee is of course Al Gore's home state as well, and both districts had marked improvements from 1988 to 1996.  While Dukakis only won TN-09 61/39 and lost TN-08 42/58, Clinton won them 66/30 and 48/43 in 1992 and 71/26 and 51/44 in 1996.  Meanwhile, most of "middle Tennessee"--TN-02, TN-03, TN-04, TN-05, TN-06--made the 1992 list but not the 1996 list.

Texas:

Notably, the absence of Lloyd Bentsen seems to have mattered a bit more in Texas than the absence of Mike Dukakis mattered in Massachusetts.  

TX-16--El Paso--had one of Clinton's strongest improvements over Dukakis by 1996.  Dukakis won it 53/47, but Clinton won it 51/35 in 1992 and then 63/32 in 1996.  But Clinton's 1996 vote share was lower than Dukakis' across much of the rest of the state--outside of San Antonio, Dallas and Houston metro areas.  He even under-performed Dukakis' vote share in the Austin-based TX-10.  (The Dallas-based TX-30 might have made the 1992 list though.)  Even more of Texas would probably be colored red if not for the redraw.

South Carolina:

This one's kind of random, but Dukakis lost SC-02 31/69, and then Clinton "only" lost it 36/52 and then "only" lost it 41/54.  It might be a fluke--but it also made the 1992 list.

Louisiana:

(Parish map from here, election results from here.)

While I flatly refuse to make these maps for any other states, I'll make one for Lousiana given the difficulties of its mid-decade redistricting.  The colors are as above--in blue parishes, Clinton in 1996 improved by at least 7.8 points over Dukakis, and in red parishes, Clinton lost ground.

I'm no expert on Louisiana geography, but Clinton's strong 1996 performance in the "downstate" areas around Baton Rouge and New Orleans might fit in with Clinton's improving performance in urban areas.  For example, LA-02 seems to have changed very little--it's another district I might have included--but Dukakis won it with 66% of the vote, and Clinton later won it with 78%.

The northern area borders Clinton's home state of Arkansas (as jncca pointed out to me about the state) and they're less white.  The 1992 boundaries of LA-05 covered much of this area.  LA-05 had Clinton's greatest 1988-1992 vote share improvement in the state, so again, this is probably where he had the greatest appeal relative to Dukakis.  

Georgia:
Photobucket

(Note: These are Georgia's 1992 districts.)

I really don't want to make a county map for Georgia, but suffice to say that Clinton vastly improved on Dukakis' two-party vote share in nearly the entire state in 1992, and only GA-05, GA-06, and GA-11 (the home districts of John Lewis, Newt Gingrich, and Cynthia McKinney) were below the level of over-performance of the other "best" 1992 districts.  Clinton's greatest 1992 over-performances were in GA-07, GA-10, and GA-09.  (GA-07 barely missed the 1996 cutoff.)

I'm not sure about 1996, though.  Of the relatively constant districts, Clinton probably over-performed the most in GA-05 and (if you include it) Newt Gingrich's GA-06!  After all, Dukakis got 25% of the vote there, to Clinton's 33% by 1996.

Where else did Clinton do badly in 1996?

Aside from where we've seen, Clinton's 1996 vote share was lower than Dukakis' in much or all of Alaska, Iowa, Idaho, Kansas, Minnesota, Montana, North Dakota, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Dakota, Washington, Wisconsin, and Wyoming.

He also lost ground in much of rural Missouri (although not in the Arkansas-bordering MO-08), in the Western Indiana district of IN-07, in two districts in North Carolina, in NM-03, and in UT-03.

Many of these are rural districts and states where Dukakis might have been over-performing in the first place.

Conclusion:

Despite the variances between 1992 and 1996 and the confusing role played by Perot, Clinton's greatest improvements over Dukakis in either cycle almost certainly included Phoenix, the Los Angeles area, Delaware, Mid-Florida and South Florida, Chicagoland, the D.C. suburbs of Maryland and Virgnia, outer Detroit, New Hampshire, the Philadelphia suburbs in Pennsylvania and New Jersey, Long Island, and Columbus.

The stereotypical "Clinton-esque" areas where he did well were mostly either in Georgia or in or around his home state of Arkansas, and/or in Al Gore's home state of Tennessee.  And whatever that was in the South Carolina district.

I think this tells a pretty coherent story, and it's not the story you seem to usually hear about Bill Clinton's strengths and weaknesses.

My goal isn't to bash Bill Clinton, but to try to work against the Clinton Myth.

That's the myth, I think, that says (implicitly) that there's something wrong with Democrats winning with coalitions of urban and suburban voters and ethnic minorities, and that if only Democrats can nominate the right kind of candidate--usually a Southern and/or rural white guy who's a moderate on, at a minimum, social issues--then they could charm the so-called "white working class" voters back into the Democratic fold.  

The former kinds of voters are called "wine track" and the latter kinds of voters are called "beer track", even though sometimes people define these things so the "'white working class' is more affluent than the rest of the public".

And Clinton is the archetype.

The problem?  Clinton might not have even done that himself.  Where he improved on Dukakis the most was, instead, mostly in urban areas, inner suburbs, the Acela corridor, and Hispanic areas--even though Dukakis was the suburban candidate and Clinton was the Appalachian candidate.

You might be thinking "but Xenocrypt, it wasn't Clinton's fault that Dukakis benefited from the farm bust and that Perot might have played better in some areas, and anyway, these districts had long-term trends, and you can't expect Clinton to have stopped that".

And you'd be right!  As I put it to jncca, economic circumstances and long-term trends seem to be more powerful than a candidate's profile and "fit".  Bill Clinton was an extremely skilled politician, and maybe he did know how to "speak cracker", but whatever he was saying wasn't enough to significantly improve on Mike Dukakis' Appalachian performance, and he even lost ground in some quintessentially "Clinton Democrat" areas.

And even if you think this was Perot--and some of it might have been, I'm not really confident that I can answer that--here's DCCyclone, back when I raised this issue about Clinton's performance in, ironically, Georgia (so I might have been off-base there):

There's a lot of mythology about Clinton's appeal to voters.  People have a strange amnesia that this is a guy who got 43% and then 49% in his two national elections, and his performance with whites never exceeded Obama's.  There is an assumption that Clinton did better than Obama with blue-collar whites, but I've never seen anyone offer any evidence in support of that.

It's nice to argue that Clinton would've done better in both elections had Perot not been on the ballot, but that doesn't go very far since Clinton still was an explicitly rejected option both times.  And especially when he was a supposedly popular incumbent in '96, there was no reason he shouldn't have been able to break 50%.

I've been arguing a lot with DCCyclone lately, so I'll end on that note of agreement.

4:53 PM PT: By the way, regarding 1992, I plugged Dukakis' vote share, Clinton's 1992 vote share, and Perot's 1992 vote share into a multivariate regression (rounded to the nearest integer) and got:

Clinton[t] = + 19.6633148340918 + 0.794878473293714Dukakis[t] -0.662281762618Perot[t] + e[t]
using my trusty Wessa.net.  (Wessa P., (2008), Multiple Regression (v1.0.26) in Free Statistics Software (v1.1.23-r7), Office for Research Development and Education, URL http://www.wessa.net/...)

And if you look at where Clinton over-performed in 1992 relative to that equation...it's basically the same story yet again.  

Arkansas, Phoenix, Long Island, Georgia, the D.C. suburbs of Maryland, Nevada, California and especially Southern California, CT-02, Delaware, Florida (and a lot of it South Florida), Chicago, MA-05, Maine, MI-06, MI-07, MI-14, the districts I mentioned in Missouri, New Hampshire, the Philadelphia suburbs in PA and NJ, Columbus, Vermont, middle Tennessee.  NC-12 is a new addition, though, and a nice "bubba" district.  TX-06 and TX-30 in the Dallas area.  WA-09--another suburban district.

Where did Clinton under-perform this regression?  We haven't talked as much about Clinton's weak 1992 areas, so I might write that up another time.  But it includes the rest of Connecticut (a Bush home state effect?) and, yes, West Virginia.

5:18 PM PT: Whoops.  NC-12 is obviously not a "bubba" district.  I was thinking of NC-11.  NC-12 is the notorious Mel Watt district.  I should also be a bit more specific about what I meant.  I looked at the 100 districts where Clinton over-performed the regression line by the most.  The New York districts on that list included the Long Island districts NY-01, NY-02, and NY-05, but also the NYC districts of NY-06, NY-08, and NY-09.


5:31 PM PT: I should add that the "regression line" approach for 1992 and the "two-party vote share" approach are very highly correlated, so we're not gaining all that much.  Why that is--another time.

6:54 PM PT: A sketchy regression I tried on 1988-1996 might take most of the D.C. suburbs off the list, but add CT and RI.  Again, pretty similar stories overall.

8:54 PM PT: I don't know if the 1996 regression keeps those districts in Ohio red, though.  I might have to take another look from that perspective sometime.

Originally posted to Xenocrypt on Sat Aug 25, 2012 at 02:46 PM PDT.

Also republished by Community Spotlight.

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  •  What is the effect of Perot in the Clinton races? (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    KingofSpades, Louisiana 1976, Nulwee

    In some of the blue-collar white districts (e.g., Appalacia), I feel Clinton would not have done worse than Dukakis if there had Perot, who appealed to lower-class whites, not been on the ballot.

    •  The thing is that Appalachia (10+ / 0-)

      was Democratically-leaning even to Dukakis (at least some parts).

      Let's look at West Virginia.  Dukakis tied in WV-01, lost WV-02 by 4 points, and won WV-03 by 18 points.  That means, just looking at 1988, that WV-01 was about D+4, WV-02 was about D+2, and WV-03 was about D+13.

      As for 1992: There are several ways of looking at it, but they pretty much all put the swing in West Virginia at below the national swing.

      For example, Clinton's average 1988-1992 improvement in two-party vote share, by district, was about 7.5 points.  But in all three of West Virginia's districts, his two-party swing was lower than that.

      H.W. Bush lost an average of about 16.8 points in raw vote share(!) between 1988 and 1992.  But he lost less than that in all three of West Virginia's districts.  

      That means that even if you spotted Clinton all of Perot's vote, everywhere--West Virginia would still have been relatively red-trending.

      It's possible Perot took differently from the two candidates in different parts of the country, though.  I don't really know how to deal with that, which is why I focused on 1996, where Perot's performance was worse and probably more uniformly distributed between the two parties.

      As I said, the Bush-Dole and Dukakis-Clinton changes were quite well-correlated, and that suggests that looking at Clinton's raw share is a pretty good measure.  And Clinton lost ground in WV-01 and WV-03 and only gained a tiny 0.9 points in WV-02.

      Also, see DCCyclone's quote.  It's worth distinguishing between the questions of general Democratic trend and of Clinton's alleged unique appeal to these regions, although they both interest me in this diary.

      27, Dem, Dude seeing a dude, CT-04(originally), PA-02/NY-14 (formerly PA-02/NY-12).

      by Xenocrypt on Sat Aug 25, 2012 at 03:21:36 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I switched from Perot 1992 to Clinton 1996. (0+ / 0-)

        My first Presidential vote was for Ross Perot.  I was not old enough to vote in 1988.  For all of these elections, I would have lived in IL-19.  (Champaign-Urbana area)

        Given that Perot lost more than half his vote total (18% -> 8%) I'm clearly not alone.

        Even in the Early 90s I did not trust the thocratic bent of the Republican party.

        -7.75 -4.67

        "Freedom's just another word for nothing left to lose."

        There are no Christians in foxholes.

        by Odysseus on Sun Aug 26, 2012 at 10:29:16 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  You should send this over to MSNBC (16+ / 0-)

    attn Chris Matthews.
    He has completely rescripted history and has fallen in love with his version where Bill Clinton is the president of world, has the common touch and was able to woo white voters unlike any other.
    This should shut him up...at least for a little while.

  •  cool (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Zack from the SFV, Roadbed Guy

    Another way at this (however one construes "this") would be to work with county-level returns. County lines change now and then, but not so much. After the 2008 election, I both saw and made some pretty interesting maps of where Obama had over/underperformed by various measures.

    I don't know how powerful the myth you describe is -- but I agree that Clinton's charms can be waaaaay overrated.

    Election protection: there's an app for that!
    Better Know Your Voting System with the Verifier!

    by HudsonValleyMark on Sat Aug 25, 2012 at 03:16:43 PM PDT

    •  I prefer Congressional districts to counties. (5+ / 0-)

      Since I like how there are relatively fewer of them, and that they're roughly equally populated, and usually reasonably coherent even when they're gerrymandered.  This is a bit idiosyncratic though.

      However--again, I'm not trying to bash Bill Clinton.  Eh, that's disingenuous.  The Clinton story really annoys me, and yes, I'm still annoyed by the whole "Hillary Clinton: Champion of the Reagan Democrat" thing from the 2008 primaries.  I should probably just move on, since that whole period was insane, and I don't even like my own diaries from back then.

      But Bill's a very good politician.  I just think the nature of his political skills, and their relationships to the overall trends of the two parties, might be misunderstood.

      For example--it's possible that, as a good politician, he got votes where it was most fertile for a Democrat--which, at that time, was suburbia.  Maybe not.  But this diary is my attempt to contribute to that discussion.

      27, Dem, Dude seeing a dude, CT-04(originally), PA-02/NY-14 (formerly PA-02/NY-12).

      by Xenocrypt on Sat Aug 25, 2012 at 03:27:26 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  OK (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Odysseus

        I tend to be a "the more numbers, the better" guy, but I see both sides.

        I supported Obama from pretty early, once I was convinced that he would run a solid campaign -- but I never got into the primary wars.

        For example--it's possible that, as a good politician, he got votes where it was most fertile for a Democrat--which, at that time, was suburbia.
        Well, sure. Even lousy politicians get votes where it is most fertile. ;) I'm generally pretty suspicious of generalizations about Joe Sixpack, or Walmart Moms, or blue-collar voters, etc.

        Hmm, I'll think about this some more.

        Election protection: there's an app for that!
        Better Know Your Voting System with the Verifier!

        by HudsonValleyMark on Sat Aug 25, 2012 at 04:51:19 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  Even after reading this (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        jncca, Inoljt, WisJohn

        I still buy into Hillary doing better as a bubba candidate in certain areas.  She would've done better in Appalachia and would've changed PA-12's fate as the only Kerry/McCain district.  I think that's because I think a lot of realigning has occurred between the time period you discuss and the 2008 election.  A lot of population has been lost in these areas due to the loss of jobs slanted towards being unionized.  Also, the Democratic Party has more fully shifted towards urban liberalism versus rural populism.  I think Hillary would've done better, but enough to make any electoral difference?  Nope.

        As for my over-all comments, great job, great topic, and a really great read.  First, I think it is really important that someone finally did the leg work to look into this.  But as I note above, I want to point out that this is only a snap-shot of the greater political period of re-alignment that we are finally nearing the end of with the parties switching places.

        What I love about your study is that two of the main regions discussed are the South and its traditional Democratic counter-part in the North, Appalachia.  When someone talks about a Democratic "bubba" vote, these are the two regions people immediately think of as where we can do better.  But your study shows that they diverged when it came to Bill Clinton.  Frankly, I'm not too surprised by Bill doing worst than Dukakis in SW PA and the like because as a Minnesotan, I've long looked at maps trying to figure out how the hell we're the longest running blue state in the country.  Obviously it's because of Mondale being on the ticket in 1984, blah blah blah, but maps make it more fun.  And my conclusion from that exercise was that there was still plenty of traditional Democratic voting power in the rural North and it was the urban populations that threw 1984 to Reagan so decisively.  And your study shows that Clinton did worse with the rural Northern Democrats while he improved greatly with the urban population.  To me, that simply speaks to re-alignment becoming more regular.

        Furthermore, concerning the South, your study shows that there was a "bubba" effect here.  And if one were to believe my above thoughts, that'd mean Clinton had normal re-alignment occurring in the North, and he had a "bubba" effect in the South.  This brings to mind Jimmy Carter, who under what your study has found should also be considered as having a "bubba effect" by the punditry and over-all political science concerning he had the same electoral bubba effect as Clinton did.  So then one must almost wonder if there is no such thing as a "bubba" effect; both simply went against re-alignment trends in the South because they are from there.  And, Barack Obama will do better in IL than usual and today is Monday.

        Great work, clearly made me think.  :)

    •  Yes,it would seem like county lines (0+ / 0-)

      DO change much less frequently than the congressional districts - which, in particular, were entirely reconfigured between Dukakis & Clinton (with the exception of one district states, of course)

  •  This is all great (6+ / 0-)

    One thing to note: these suburban areas were probably much more willing to vote for a moderate Northeastern suburbanite (HW Bush, who came across as such rather than Texan despite living in Texas) over a rural conservative, although not extreme, Midwesterner.  And vice versa for small town "Middle America."

    So some of Clinton's advantage over Dukakis might be due to their opponents

    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 Sat Aug 25, 2012 at 03:38:34 PM PDT

    •  Yes, although (0+ / 0-)

      you really do get a lot of the same story looking at 1992 than at 1996, which at least keeps the Republican constant.  

      At least if you look by two-party vote share: you have more of the Bay Area and Southern California and less of New York City and New Jersey, and you have Nevada, and you also have much more of Tennessee and Missouri (but some of that's urban/suburban).  But a lot of the basic regions are the same.

      The best-case method for "bubba" districts is to look at the 1988-1992 change in Democratic raw vote share.  That gives you more of Virginia, some of Mississippi, North Carolina, and Alabama, and KY-01, for example, among Clinton's "best" districts.  The problem is that some of these are also districts where Perot's vote share was relatively small, which introduces additional confusion.  I don't know exactly how to make sense of that.

      27, Dem, Dude seeing a dude, CT-04(originally), PA-02/NY-14 (formerly PA-02/NY-12).

      by Xenocrypt on Sat Aug 25, 2012 at 03:52:55 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  right (0+ / 0-)

        but I still think there's no way the candidates Clinton faced didn't affect things.

        You could argue he lost Georgia in 1996 because Perot was weaker, or because Georgia was trending R.  Both may be true.  But the real reason might be Dole's a better fit for rural Georgia than Bush 41.

        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 Sat Aug 25, 2012 at 04:27:27 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  For example (0+ / 0-)

      AL-03: Dukakis/Bush was 39/61, and Clinton/Bush/Other was 42/48/11.  

      OH-15: Dukakis/Bush was 34/66, Clinton/Bush/Other was 36/45/20.

      Clinton's two-party vote share swing was bigger in OH-15.  But so was Perot's performance.  Bush lost 21 points in OH-15, and only 13 points in AL-03.  But Clinton gained more in AL-03.

      It's complicated.

      27, Dem, Dude seeing a dude, CT-04(originally), PA-02/NY-14 (formerly PA-02/NY-12).

      by Xenocrypt on Sat Aug 25, 2012 at 03:59:20 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Which is why (0+ / 0-)

        I ultimately decided to focus more on 1996.  But the 1992 story is a very interesting one its own right.  For example, Perot's vote share is somewhat correlated with both the Clinton raw 1988-1992 swing and with the Bush 1988-1992 swing--which are, again, not at all correlated with each other!

        27, Dem, Dude seeing a dude, CT-04(originally), PA-02/NY-14 (formerly PA-02/NY-12).

        by Xenocrypt on Sat Aug 25, 2012 at 04:10:19 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  To What Extent Was His Particular Way of Campaign- (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Xenocrypt, ArkDem14, wu ming, Nulwee

    ing a factor in this?

    His campaign was famous for using mapping software to focus like a laser on persuadable areas & swing states. Or maybe if everybody's done that since then, it's a wash.

    We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

    by Gooserock on Sat Aug 25, 2012 at 03:46:14 PM PDT

  •  the thing i found interesting was in the part of (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Nulwee, Zack from the SFV

    Texas that Dukakis won. Basically the areas north and east of Houston (the old Wilson district), that pocket of counties running parallel to I-35 (like Robertson county) much of the old Wright Patman district and some band of counties in West Texas like Throckmorton Cottle etc where there was a major R trend in 1996.

    What I've always noticed is that in West Texas there's a difference between West Texas (the areas not in the panhandle or bordering NM) and "West West Texas". "West Texas" which was the Sarpalius district, gave Bush 57% in 1988. "West West Texas" which was the Combest, district, gave Bush 74% in 1988.

    also known as "AquarianLeft" on RedRacingHorses

    by demographicarmageddon on Sat Aug 25, 2012 at 07:52:05 PM PDT

    •  CD-wise. (0+ / 0-)

      Let's see, Dukakis won:

      TX-02
      TX-09
      TX-10
      TX-15
      TX-16
      TX-18
      TX-20
      TX-23
      TX-27
      TX-28
      TX-29
      TX-30
      Hm.  TX-02 was East Texas, Charlie Wilson's district, as you say.  TX-09 was the Brooks/Stockman/Lampson district (although it got redrawn), Dukakis won this one 54/46.  TX-10 was Austin, TX-16 was El Paso, TX-18 was what would become Sheila Jackson-Lee's district, TX-15, TX-27, TX-28 were south Texas/border districts, TX-20 was San Antonio, TX-23 was the Canseco/Gallego-type district, TX-29 was in Houston too, TX-30 was VRA in Dallas, I think.

      I think the I-35 counties you mention were part of TX-05.  The Duke lost that one, but managed to keep it narrowly D+.

      27, Dem, Dude seeing a dude, CT-04(originally), PA-02/NY-14 (formerly PA-02/NY-12).

      by Xenocrypt on Sat Aug 25, 2012 at 08:15:45 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  T&R'd, didn't understand a thing you wrote... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Uncle Moji

    But I'm honoring my inner geek with this comment.

  •  This post itself is moot--Bill shines today, alone (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    GayHillbilly, oysterface, WisJohn

    How tiresome are the Bill Clinton detractors, here on the left, and there on the right.  

    Hated by his adversaries when he first came to power in Arkansas, hated by them during both Presidential campaigns, hated by them during both Presidential terms, hated by them afterwards and to this day.  Yet he survives all the calumny, all the rationale for "why he just wasn't any good, why, he didn't truly bring peace and prosperity," "why he's an alleged (fill in the blank, somebody somewhere has accused him of it), don't you know?"  

    They use every derogatory term to belittle his talents, his energies, his very real achievements and his concerns.  It is inconceivable to them that he is an intellectual powerhouse, by way of Yale and Oxford; no, he must be viewed as an ersatz "Bubba."  Pity them.  This column attempts to further elucidate us, "The Myth of Bubba."  Sad, sad, detractors, they do never stop trying.

    Chris Matthews is no revisionist.  Chris Matthews, twenty years after he first railed into Bill, now has at last seen the light, accepted what most people well beyond American shores have long known, and that is that Bill was then, now, and shall be for the remainder of his days "simply the best."  Bill truly is "President of the World."  Nobody else comes close, or ever shall.  His Clinton Global Initiative has done more good throughout the globe than the UN and Nobel Peace Prize foundations combined, and though the Nobel Peace Prize committee ceaselessly denies him their Peace Prize, opting instead to think that a trio of fine, but far lesser Democratic politicians than he are worthy, his CGI eclipses their achievements.  Indeed, for Bill Clinton now the Nobel Peace Prize has become ersatz.

    In my own lifetime spanning now 59 years, Bill Clinton has been far and away the best of the United States Presidents.  He left office with a golden surplus, balanced all budgets in his two terms, was instrumental in the Irish Peace accords and blazed new trails in the Middle East peace initiatives as few professional diplomats have before or since.  His terms were relatively free of any wars, and the Bosnia war was concluded quickly and without a single American casualty.  

    His detractors then, and now, forever point to his personal life, but those who sought to impeach him have proven to have had illicit affairs every bit as condign as any flaw in the Clinton character.  Indeed, his detractors have made a mockery of the impeachment process, because what they accused him of was never intended to serve as a "high crime and misdemeanor."  

    Reflecting on all the American Presidents of my lifetime, no other left the Ship of State more fiscally sound and yet still in peace with the larger world.  Eisenhower and JFK were essentially presidents of an era of the Cold War, for all the integrity of Ike and the charm and verve of JFK, concerning whom we also now know were quite morally flawed.  LBJ was a great social legislator, but the Vietnam debacle tore apart the nation's social fabric at one and the same time.  Nixon opened the door to China and presided over moderate spending times, but his obsession with enemies, real or perceived, was his own undoing.  Ford was more an interim president, rather lackluster, and Carter, although profoundly moral, was an ineffective Chief Executive, with high inflationary times and an Iran venture gone terribly wrong.  

    Reagan, who is so much worshiped by legions of conservatives, still left the nation mired in credit card debt, and with an illicit war staged in Central America.  His successor, the elder Bush, seemed always detached, so that the economic downturn of his later years seemed to him somehow removed from his own path.  Clinton's successor, the younger Bush, after capitalizing on the attacks of 9/11, failed to capture the force behind those attacks, staged wars and filled the coffers of the wealthiest to such levels, that the nation was left mired in debt for generations to come.  

    President Obama inherited that mess, and returning to those wrong-headed policies of the Bush years with Mitt Romney and the radical Paul Ryan at the helm will only further push America into an abyss from which it may not be possible to extricate itself.   But for all his intellect and oratory, President Obama is not the master politician that is Bill Clinton.  

    In the end, beaten and battered by foes on both the right and the left, it is indeed an irony that most Americans now remember his economic times most fondly.  His detractors will never stop hating him, but their problem is that given our recent history, the majority of Americans can think of no other past President, nor any current politician, who would do a better job, certainly economically, than he did.  

    Bill Clinton, indeed "Bubba," shines alone; the only living politician viewed far more positively than negatively.  Alas, that 25%, his core haters, cannot give up the ghost.  They could learn much from the Chris Matthews of today.  Ceaselessly arguing with why Bill Clinton is the platinum politician of our time doesn't scar Bill Clinton one bit.  His rival politicians, past and current, could only hope to have attached to them such a "mythology."

  •  As a "prissy bloodless suburban reformer" (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    oysterface

    I have to say, "God, I love the Big Dog."

  •  Suburbs vs. rural (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    dufffbeer, KingTag, Odysseus

    The main thing I infer from the graphs is that Clinton shifted the democratic party from the New Deal urban-rural coalition to a urban-suburban coalition. Leaving out the south, most of Clinton's improvements over Dukakis seem to be in suburbs.

    An interesting question would be whether this was because of urbanites expanding into inner-ring suburbs, or the social issues that took over the Republican party (e.g., abortion).  Another interesting question would be where Gore gained the least over Clinton.

    •  As for Gore vs. Clinton (0+ / 0-)

      you can see the regression perspective here, although keep in mind those are the 1998/2000 district boundaries and numbers.

      Bush over-performed in some Appalachian areas, like KY and MO and WV--but some of them were probably trending away even during the Clinton years.  

      But I wouldn't necessarily say that "Clinton shifted the democratic party from the New Deal urban-rural coalition to a urban-suburban coalition".  I think that, broadly speaking, started to or continued to happen under Clinton, but that doesn't mean he was the cause.

      27, Dem, Dude seeing a dude, CT-04(originally), PA-02/NY-14 (formerly PA-02/NY-12).

      by Xenocrypt on Sun Aug 26, 2012 at 12:00:14 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  pretty much (0+ / 0-)

      The Ruy-Texeira coalition starts to form in the Clinton elections and Presidency.

      Relative to Dukakis, Clinton got more young white professionals and Latinos but lost the last hardcore social conservative (i.e. 'pro-life') voters.

      What Clinton was remarkable at was defusing talking down much of the anger of the Angry White Men (and Women) who were vehemently against what he represented.   Not completely, but for all the utter hysterical hate thrown at him for representing the beginning of the end of the pre-1968 society, relatively little of it became violent.   What did was horrible enough.

  •  Very interesting diary (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Odysseus, jncca

    I have to admit that part of me is pretty shocked to see how wrong the traditional narrative is. Another facet of this is that it contradicts the narrative that the new Democratic coalition really started to rise during the early years of the Bush Presidency and that prior to that time Democrats could only win by somehow recreating the old New-Deal coalition. This diary would push back the beginning of the rise of the New Democratic demographic coalition about 10 years!

    That's quite remarkable and speaks to both how powerful and how slowly acting larger demographic trends really are.

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

    by okiedem on Sun Aug 26, 2012 at 06:41:00 AM PDT

    •  Again some of the story is Dukakis and Perot. (0+ / 0-)

      I think the overall story is right, but there are some things I'm kicking myself for not thinking about first.  (For example, the fact that Perot's vote share plus the Republican swing plus the Democratic swing must necessarily equal zero.)

      Still--I do think that a lot of areas we think of as more recently trending Democratic could have been spotted from this, looked at from some angle or another.  Comparing 1992 to 1996 or 1996 to 2000, as someone mentioned above, are some of the next steps.

      27, Dem, Dude seeing a dude, CT-04(originally), PA-02/NY-14 (formerly PA-02/NY-12).

      by Xenocrypt on Sun Aug 26, 2012 at 06:55:24 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  I'm kind of confused about your methodology. (0+ / 0-)

    What do you mean by "raw vote share"? Could you give an example?

    For instance, let's say Dukakis got 50% of the vote in a district. Then Clinton got 60% of the vote in the same district in 1996.

    Or let's say Dukakis got 100,000 votes in a district. Then Clinton got 110,000 votes in the same district in 1996.

    Or let's say Dukakis tied a district by 0%. Then Clinton won the same district by 10% in 1996.

    Which of the three examples fits the measurement you're using?

    For instance, you say that Clinton and Dukakis both got 48% in OH-18, but that according to your methodology Clinton did much worse. Then you say that Clinton had similar vote shares as Dukakis in three Arizona districts, but this time according to your methodology he did much better.

    I'm confused by that.

    http://mypolitikal.com/

    by Inoljt on Sun Aug 26, 2012 at 10:47:18 AM PDT

    •  I apologize for any confusion. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Inoljt

      The maps in the diary are simply where Clinton's 1996 percentage of the vote minus Dukakis' 1988 percentage of the vote was greatest (colored blue) or less than zero (colored red).  

      In OH-18, Clinton got 47.5% of the vote to Dukakis' 48%--unfortunately, the Dukakis number is rounded to the nearest integer, so as I said there might be a marginal problem there.  But that's still relatively bad since Clinton, overall, improved his vote share significantly over Dukakis'.

      The bigger problem with OH-18, which I didn't realize until afterwards, is that it's possible even Clinton's 1996 performance was a (mild) over-performance by the standard of a regression analysis treating Perot's vote share and Dukakis' vote share as the inputs.

      As for Arizona--Clinton held steady in 1992, but then improved significantly in all three in 1996, and that probably holds even from the regression perspective.

      27, Dem, Dude seeing a dude, CT-04(originally), PA-02/NY-14 (formerly PA-02/NY-12).

      by Xenocrypt on Sun Aug 26, 2012 at 11:56:05 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  The pre-2008 conventional wisdom was different (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Xenocrypt, Bush Bites

    Always interesting how history re-writes itself.  But when Clinton won in 1992 the media mantra was that Bill Clinton won with "Soccer Moms."  Then after 1994 when the bottom really fell out on rural whites they talked endlessly about "Nascar dads."  The media is lazy if you have "moms" one cycle you need "dads" the next.

    But success was still until recently put on two pedestals.  Democratic growth in suburban voters who had in the past leaned Republican.  And the growth of the hispanic population in places like California

    On the other hand (and I think this is where some media pundits who lack subtly have been taking things too far) Clinton does deserve credit for limiting Democratic losses in downscale white voters in places like Applachia as much as he did.  But it's a mistake to view him only losing some (rather than all) ground against a ongoing historic realignment in rural and southern areas to mean those areas were ever the Democratic Party's future.

    The lady was enchanted and said they ought to see. So they charged her with subversion and made her watch TV -Spirogyra

    by Taget on Sun Aug 26, 2012 at 10:52:54 AM PDT

    •  Yes, I think that's right. (0+ / 0-)

      Really, I can scarcely improve on your very balanced take.

      II don't have time to really delve into it, but I looked a bit at 1996 vs. 2000, using the regression approach, and it's an interesting combination of the same story as here, and a slightly different story.

      For example--even though OH-18 is colored red here, Clinton might have very slightly over-performed there at least in 1992, and maybe even over-performed there by about a point in 1996, at least if you assume that Perot's performance was something that influenced Clinton's rather than the other way around.  But then Bush over-performed there in 2000 by over 4.5 points.  (West Virginia, on the other hand, I think was plainly trending Republican even under Bill.)

      And I would certainly credit Clinton with strong performances in and around Arkansas and in Georgia.  But, as you say, there was an 'ongoing historic realignment", and I think Clinton rode that trend at least as much as he defied it.

      27, Dem, Dude seeing a dude, CT-04(originally), PA-02/NY-14 (formerly PA-02/NY-12).

      by Xenocrypt on Sun Aug 26, 2012 at 11:45:58 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  There was one thing I think few saw coming... (0+ / 0-)

        ...even though we now know it in retrospect.  The blurring of the line between the "border state" south and the "deep south."

        Traditionally border states such as West Virginia, Missouri, Kentucky, Tennessee, Delaware, and Maryland were seen as the more moderate than the Deep South and were often viewed as swing states or at least states capable of swinging.

        Delaware and Maryland of course through changing demographics became Northeastern states.  But by 2000 the others besides Missouri showed clear signs those days were over.  And by 2008 it became an exclamation point.

        The lady was enchanted and said they ought to see. So they charged her with subversion and made her watch TV -Spirogyra

        by Taget on Sun Aug 26, 2012 at 06:39:25 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Perhaps... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Xenocrypt, WisJohn

    I will confess to not reading this entire diary, so maybe I am missing an overall point but I would give the following reasons for why Dukkais did better than Clinton in 1996 many rural areas and worse in some urban suburban areas.

    1.  In 1988 Reaganomics had taken a serious and brutal toll on the farm economies of many states and many voters in those areas were apprehensive about electing Bush I and thus giving Reagan a third term by proxy.

    2.  In 1988 the Republican party's stance on social issues, while right of center was not as extreme as it has since become, thus more moderate and affluent voters felt it was not all that dangerous to vote for Bush, particularly given that Dukkais had, arguably, run the single worst campaign of a major party presidential candidate.

    3.  By 1996 the farm situation was not as urgent thus allowing rural voters more of a "luxury" to vote the more conservative social issues.

    4.  By 1996 Newt Gingrich had been Speaker for two years and had taken the Republican party sharply to the right.  Democrats were successful in tying Bob Dole to Gingrich and thus urban and suburban voters felt comfortable voting for Clinton whose social issues stances they were more in tune with while not having to vote much against their more affluent economic interests.

    I'm sure none of the above is absolutely air tight, but it does take a look and the changing demographics of how people vote today.

    “I believe all Southern liberals come from the same starting point--race. Once you figure out they are lying to you about race, you start to question everything.” ― Molly Ivins

    by RoIn on Sun Aug 26, 2012 at 11:00:07 AM PDT

    •  I think a lot of that might have something to do (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      RoIn, James Allen, bumiputera

      with it.  Dukakis' performance was notoriously strangely distributed, but it was the baseline I had available to me.  (Again, how the hell does a Democrat get 46% of the vote and still lose John Dingell and Lynn Rivers' districts?)  

      However--just because Clinton (and Gore and Kerry and Obama after him) improved in some relatively upscale suburban areas, that doesn't necessarily mean that an improvement among upscale voters was the cause.  Congressional districts are large and fairly diverse, and we'd have to know more to say that.  Northern Virginia, Fairfield County, Southern California, Nevada--those areas were all changing more than just their politics during this time period.

      27, Dem, Dude seeing a dude, CT-04(originally), PA-02/NY-14 (formerly PA-02/NY-12).

      by Xenocrypt on Sun Aug 26, 2012 at 11:49:43 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  1988 to Now (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Xenocrypt
        owever--just because Clinton (and Gore and Kerry and Obama after him) improved in some relatively upscale suburban areas, that doesn't necessarily mean that an improvement among upscale voters was the cause.  Congressional districts are large and fairly diverse, and we'd have to know more to say that.  Northern Virginia, Fairfield County, Southern California, Nevada--those areas were all changing more than just their politics during this time period.
        That's where individual precinct returns would help.

        The 1988 results were the first hint of the electoral maps we have gotten kind of used to since -- Dukakis doing best in the northeast, upper midwest, and Pacific coast.  Clinton built on that and it became to path to 270 that broke the so called "electoral college lock" Republicans were said to have by the media pundits.  Things have expanded now that demographic changes now put Virginia, North Carolina, Florida, Colorado, and Nevada in play.  At the same time West Virgina seems to be gone for Democrats for the foreseeable future while, potentially, Wisconsin and Iowa could become more competitive.  

        For the time being though, Iowa and West Virginia remain the only Dukkais states that have gone Republican for president since 1988.

        “I believe all Southern liberals come from the same starting point--race. Once you figure out they are lying to you about race, you start to question everything.” ― Molly Ivins

        by RoIn on Sun Aug 26, 2012 at 12:19:25 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  I think Nevada was already starting to break (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          WisJohn

          from Dukakis to Clinton to Gore, and even Colorado and Virginia and Florida...I can see the regions that are now considered swingy or Democratic strongholds from certain perspectives on the 1992, 1996, or 2000 results.

          North Carolina?  That's another story, except if you count Clinton's regression over-performance in NC-12.  But I'd have to take a more comprehensive look to be sure.

          More broadly--I think you're right that we under-estimate how much the current system grew up from Dukakis to Clinton to Gore, and that's one reason why, looking back, we discount Clinton's strength in the emerging Democratic strongholds (because of course Clinton did well in New Jersey!) and, perhaps, over-emphasize his strength in the fading ones.

          27, Dem, Dude seeing a dude, CT-04(originally), PA-02/NY-14 (formerly PA-02/NY-12).

          by Xenocrypt on Sun Aug 26, 2012 at 12:24:43 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  One challenge I would make..... (0+ / 0-)

    .....is that I'd bet many of the people who didn't vote for him in the 1990s in hindsight think his presidency was much better than they did at the time.

    I would think that grouping would include "working class whites."

    If Obama didn't get Bin Laden because he didn't pull the trigger; then Bin Laden didn't take down the World Trade Center because he didn't fly the planes.

    by Bush Bites on Sun Aug 26, 2012 at 05:10:00 PM PDT

    •  well, yes (0+ / 0-)

      you could say the opposite for George W Bush in 2004.  He got 51% of the vote; I bet 1/4 of those people think his presidency was bad.

      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 Mon Aug 27, 2012 at 12:06:56 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

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