Welcome to Part 6 in a continuing series on the political geography of the states. This segment looks at the county trends in statewide elections across multiple election years in most of the states. Given how most downballot elections occur in non-presidential years, I'll only be comparing elections in the same type of cycle to reduce the impact of different turnout dynamics, so trends will measure the change between 2006 and 2010 or 2008 and 2012. Since many states saw 2006 be very friendly to Democrats while 2010 was very favorable to Republicans, there is a fairly clear pattern of the Dem base areas trending Democratic, especially if they're heavily minority, reflecting the relative inelasticity of those voters. In constructing the following maps, I looked at the average of the Democratic percentage for D vs R partisan statewide elections by county and how that percentage varied from the statewide percentage over the two cycles. Note that when I say a county or district trended Democratic or Republican, it is relative to the state as a whole, not in absolute terms.
You can find the previous installments on the individual states grouped by the 4 census bureau regions here (the West, the Mid-West, the Northeast, the South) and Part 5 on the national elections for the US Congress. The data used to construct all of these maps can be found here.
In Alabama you can get a clear look at the relative inelasticity of the heavily black areas that span the width of the state, the "Black Belt", which was largely static between 2006 and 2010 and thus trended strongly Dem while the state swung the other way. On the other hand, the heavily white counties in the north and far south of the state swung sharply towards Republicans, contributing to their flipping the state legislature that year.
You can get a clearer picture of the north's Republican trend in the 2008-2012 map with the largely white counties continuing to trend GOP from 4 years prior. With presidential turnout seeing the Black Belt largely the same as 2008, we get a better picture of the Dem trending areas which include all of the state's major urban areas and their suburbs. Don't expect any of the state's 6 Republican held congressional districts to get much more favorable to Dems though. The 5th district, which Republicans first won in 2010, trended strongly Republican as did the dark red 5th. The 3rd trended slightly Republican, while the 1st and 2nd trended modestly Democratic and the 7th strongly Democratic.
Arizona doesn't have enough counties to make this map all that informative, but what you can clearly see is that the more minority heavy counties either trended Dem or were at worst neutral. The whitest counties in the state such as those in the northwest swung Republican the most from 2006-2010 and will probably continue to do so as rural-whites in the state vote increasingly Republican.
However, since Arizona was one of a few states federally to see a big home state advantage in recent years, I've mapped out the 2004-2012 single year PVI trend. The counties that have large and growing Hispanic populations trended Dem while the whitest ones trended strongly GOP.
Arkansas saw a seismic shift towards the GOP in 2010 and 2012 as well. The areas that trended Republican the most were the whiter parts of the state such as the once-Dem friendly northeast and south and west. The heavily Republican northwest is trending Democratic as well as the Republican friendly Little Rock suburbs. Thanks to being heavily minority and less elastic, the Delta and Little Rock proper trended Democratic. In terms of the congressional districts, the 1st and 4th should likely continue to trend Republican, making them harder to flip in the future, while the 2nd and 3rd trend Democratic. With a strong candidate we should continue to be competitive in the 2nd district.
California has been overall trending pretty strongly to the Democrats as the state grows less white, but the pattern is fairly uniform with most counties swinging Dem at about the same rate as the state. Standing out though is the Sacramento area which trended strongly Democratic in 2010 and the rural and white northeast which trended Republican.
The trend in Colorado seemed somewhat confusing in 2010 and tended to buck the pattern in other states. While the heavily Hispanic counties in southern Colorado trended Republican, some of the heavily white and rural ones in the east of the state trended Democratic. The suburbs north and west of Denver trended Republican, but those south and east trended Democratic. In terms of the Congressional Districts, the 3rd trended Republican while the 6th trended Democratic, which should make a challenge to 3rd district Rep. Scott Tipton harder further down the line.
Connecticut's towns actually saw a fairly large amount of diversity in their relative trend between 2006 and 2010. In general though, the more minority heavy cities such as Hartford trended sharply Democratic thanks to a lower elasticity, while the largely white rural areas and small towns trended Republican. The southwest trended Democratic while the northwest and far east of the state trended Republican. Accordingly, the competitive 5th district narrowly held by Dem Elizabeth Esty last year trended Republican while the neighboring 4th district trended Dem.
In Florida there were a couple of patterns that emerged between 2006 and 2010. One is that areas with larger minority populations trended strongly Democratic, such as Tallahassee, Jacksonville, Orlando, and Miami. Another is that the east coast of the state, which was largely white, trended Republican, especially the southeast where the counties trended fairly strongly Republican despite also having a large minority population. Surprisingly, the heavily white and Republican far western part of the panhandle trended pretty strongly Democratic, but most of the rest of the white parts of the panhandle trended GOP. In terms of congressional elections, the trend is favorable to Dems holding the 26th and flipping the 2nd, 7th, 10th, 25th, and 27th, while for Republicans it's favorable to holding the 11th and flipping the 18th and 22nd.
Looking at Georgia we see a pattern that somewhat resembles Alabama. The state's Black Belt counties trended Democratic between 2006 and 2010, though with the presence of a lot of GOP trending conservadems there too the trend was less pronounced. The heavily white rural areas in the north and far south of the state trended sharply Republican, while the state's urban centers, especially the Atlanta metro area, all trended pretty strongly Democratic. Unfortunately the trend is the wrong way for all the important congressional districts. The 4 that Obama won all trended strongly Democratic, while the one marginal seat we hold, the 12th, was trending mildly GOP as was the next least red district, the 1st and the 8th which we held until 2010. Though already heavily red, the 7th trended modestly Dem while the 6th trended more strongly towards us, but these districts probably wouldn't be competitive until the end of the decade even with a favorable national environment.
In Idaho we can see a pretty clear regional pattern with the far east of the state trending Democratic in 2010 while the panhandle trended Republican. However the trend wasn't very strong in most of the counties.
Illinois also had a pretty clear trend by region with downstate and many of the Mississippi River counties trending sharply Republican from 2006 to 2010 while the Chicago area and cities such as Champaign, Peoria, and Springfield all trended Democratic. In terms of congressional districts, the Dems will have an increasingly hard time winning the 13th and holding the 12th, but all of our other districts have a favorable trend.
As with Arizona, Illinois saw a big home state boost for Obama so I've mapped out the 2004-2012 PVI trend and it is quite similar to the downballot trend for the most part. Upstate and Chicagoland trended Dem while downstate trended strongly GOP.
Looking at the two maps of Indiana from 2006-2010 and 2008-2012, what jumps out the most is how the Indianapolis metro area, particularly its suburbs, are trending Democratic. Additionally, the heavily Democratic northwest trended Dem as well. Unfortunately, these areas are largely already in Democratic congressional districts while the 7 Republican held ones are either already staunchly Republican or are trending that way. In particular, downstate and the northeast are trending fairly strongly Republican.
Very appropriate to a state where most counties were close to the statewide average, most of the counties are also not really trending one way or another. An exception to that is the Des Moines area which has a fairly noticeable Dem trend which should help if we are to retake the 3rd district, while the southeast trended modestly to Republicans from 2006 to 2010. Given how Dems can't really go much lower there, the northwest appeared to trend Dem but that's just due to the change from a Dem wave to GOP wave year when the area is inelastic.
In Kansas I was surprised to see that the state's biggest urban area of Kansas City is actually trending fairly Republican between 2006 and 2010. The southeast and Missouri River counties in the northeast also trended pretty sharply Republican, as did some of the sparsely populated ones in the far west. Offsetting this Republican trend was the Democratic trend of Lawrence, Topeka, and smaller cities such as Manhattan. For the congressional districts, the 2nd trended noticeably Democratic while the 3rd trended strongly Republican.
Kentucky is one of the few states that holds its statewide elections in odd numbered years. Between 2007 and 2011, while statewide Democrats did about as well in both years, they did much better in the center of the state, particularly the Lexington area but also in Louisville, while absolutely tanking in the far east and west compared to 2007. These regions tend to be the most Democratic parts of the state thanks to the heavy importance of coal mining, but as national Democrats are moving away from coal interests, these regions seem to be following suit downballot. Fortunately, Democrats should remain competitive in the state's 6th district where Ben Chandler was narrowly upset last year, especially if they nominate someone who is pro-coal.
Louisiana's races are somewhat distorted by the presence of the jungle primary where all candidates run in the first round regardless of party and then go to a runoff between the top two. To accommodate this, I've simply aggregated the vote totals for every candidate with a D or R listed by their name and treated those totals as that particular election's totals. In doing so, we can see the trend from 2007-2011 when Dems held a few statewide offices to when they lost everything big if they even fielded a candidate. In particular, Acadiana and the coastal parishes trended significantly towards Republicans while the more minority heavy parishes such as New Orleans, East Baton Rouge, and Caddo, home to Shreveport, all trended very strongly towards Democrats.
In Maryland, counties with a growing minority population such as Prince George's were those that trended Dem the most relative to 2006, but surprisingly some of those on the eastern shore trended favorably as well. the counties in the heavily white panhandle and around the Chesapeake bay trended Republican, but not enough that Republicans stand a chance at winning any Dem held congressional seat any time soon.
The towns in Massachusetts display a clear regional pattern when analyzing the 2006-2010 trend. Cape Cod, Western Mass and the Boston metro area trended strongly Democratic, while central Mass. and to a lesser extent Southeastern Massachusetts trended Republican. In terms of the house districts, Democrats' only vulnerable one, the 6th, trended slightly Republican though not enough to imperil it any more than the scandal tarred incumbent.
Michigan's two maps show that the state's counties were largely not trending either way except for one region. The Upper peninsula and northeastern Michigan, where Obama underperformed the most, are trending towards Republicans. The Detroit metro area and its suburbs had a slight Dem trend. Unfortunately the trend appears to be aiding Republicans with their closest hold from last year, the 1st district, moving towards them and although suburban districts such as the 11th are moving towards Dems, it is not fast at all.
Minnesota saw a fairly low degree of change from 2006-2010 with most counties shifting by close to the statewide margin. However, the twin cities and their inner suburbs trended Dem while the iron range and most of rural northwestern and southeastern Minnesota trended Republican.
Mississippi is another state that holds statewide elections in odd-numbered years, so turnout is significantly different then than in presidential years. Still, despite both 2007 and 2011 having a similar average Dem performance, the Delta and heavily black areas trended strongly Democratic while heavily white areas in the northeast and southeast of the state trended strongly Republican.
Missouri's maps from 2006-2010 and 2008-2012 tell very different stories. The first one shows the rural areas of the state trending strongly Republican while the more urban and diverse counties in the state trended modestly to strongly Democratic. In particular, the GOP trend was strongest in the southeast and northwest of the state. In the second map, the urban areas still trended Dem but less strongly so. However the northwest was trending somewhat Dem while the middle of the state and the southeast along the Missississippi were relatively neutral. Instead the southeast and exurban St. Louis were trending Republican the fastest. At the congressional level, the trend is strongly towards Dems in the dark blue 1st, and modestly towards Dems in the 5th. It was fairly strongly against Dems in the 3rd and 8th, while the rest of the districts were all relatively neutral.
Montana saw a fairly clear pattern to its 2008-2012 shift with the more urban counties trending Dem and the less urban ones trending GOP. Additionally, the east of the state trended fairly strongly towards Republicans.
Nebraska's two counties with a large urban area, Douglas and Lancaster home to Omaha and Lincoln, both trended Dem between 2006 and 2010 while the rural areas of the state mostly trended Republican. On the congressional level, the lone competitive 2nd district is fortunately trending towards Dems relative to the statewide margin at a decent pace, though even the 1st district trended Dem as well thanks to the 3rd district becoming even more packed with Republican strength.
Like Arizona, Nevada doesn't really have enough counties to tell us all that much about the state's political trends. What we can see though is that the northwest of the state, anchored by Reno, is trending lightly towards Democrats while the rural center of the state is trending strongly Republican. At the congressional level, the 2nd is the only one where I could get a complete data set without precinct returns and it trended slightly Republican between 2006 and 2010.
New Mexico's counties exhibited a clear regional pattern to their 2006-2010 trend. The heavily Hispanic counties in the state's north all trended Dem as did Albuquerque itself. The much whiter counties in the south and east all trended sharply Republican. At the district level, the 1st trended Dem while the 2nd unfortunately trended Republican while the 3rd was largely stagnant.
In New York, most counties in the state saw a relatively neutral trend between 2006 and 2010. One big exception is the far north of the state which trended strongly Democratic. Far Western New York trended towards Republicans as did Staten Island. Looking at congressional districts, the narrowly Dem held 21st should continue to see improvement for Bill Owens while even the 18th and 19th should continue their slow but steady Dem trend. Unfortunately, the 11th district is trending the wrong way, but should hopefully remain competitive thanks to Grimm's ethics issues.
In North Carolina, the urban areas of the state almost all trended Democratic between 2008 and 2012, especially in the Triangle area. Additionally, counties with a large non-white population such as those in the northeast and southeast saw a very slight Dem trend while many of those in between those regions saw a very slight Republican trend. Moving more strongly towards the GOP was the much whiter coast and the almost entirely white western Appalachian region of the state. Looking at the congressional level, the trend is favorable to us possibly picking up the 8th, 9th, and 13th, while unfortunately the 7th is moving away from us rather quickly and we're probably going to lose it at some point this decade.
Both North Dakota maps paint a similar picture with the generally more Dem-friendly east trending Dem and the Republican-friendly west trending more Republican. In both cases the heavily Native American counties saw the biggest movement towards Democrats.
In Ohio, nearly every major urban area trended towards the Democrats from 2006 to 2010, especially Cincinnati. Meanwhile, the more rural counties, particularly in eastern Ohio moved towards the GOP. At the congressional level, the trend is with Dems for flipping the 1st, 10th, and 15th although all of these districts are fairly solid for Republicans. Unfortunately, the weaker districts they have such as the 6th, 7th, 14th, and 16th are all trending Republican with the trend being the sharpest in the 6th.
Oklahoma was another state that saw a seismic shift towards Republicans from 2006 to 2010 as they went from controlling just 1 non-federal statewide to all of them. Trending Republican the fastest were most of the rural areas of the state, particularly in the northeast and south, while the state's two large urban centers trended Democratic, but still swung Republican. With the congressional districts, the one we held the most recently, the 2nd, also moved the most away from Democrats, meaning we probably aren't regaining it for the foreseeable future. The 5th however trended even more strongly in the other direction, but given how Republican that district is and how it was still less Dem than the 2nd, we're probably not winning it either.
Oregon's counties were fairly stable between 2008 and 2012 with most trending by less than 2% in either direction. In general though, southern and central Oregon trended Republican, but they make up a relatively small proportion of the state. At the congressional level the trend is good news for Democrats as just the already heavily Republican 2nd district is trending away from us. The district where we're most likely to have to defend an open seat first, the 4th, trended about a point towards the Dems while the other swing district, the 5th, was static.
Looking at Pennsylvania you get a somewhat different picture from each map. However, since the 2006-2010 trend involved just 2 races and went from a massive Dem to massive GOP wave, I'll focus on the 2008-2012 shift instead which is a lot clearer. Between those two election cycles, western Pennsylvania trended very strongly towards Republicans, though much less so in Erie and Pittsburgh. Southeastern Pennsylvania and the far northeast trended Democratic, particularly Delaware county. Looking at the congressional districts though the trend is pretty squarely unhelpful. The district we narrowly lost in 2012, the 12th, is trending pretty strongly against us, while the district we're most likely to gain by 2016, the 8th, also trended marginally against us and strongly against us between 2006 and 2010. However the 7th district is trending towards us and should continue to do so, but has a relatively strong incumbent and is still fairly Republican downballot.
In Rhode Island there was a fairly clear trend towards us from 2006-2010 in the state's larger urban and suburban areas, particularly in Providence and Warwick. The towns that trended GOP the most tended to be further away from Providence, particularly in the west of the state. By district this means that the 1st district should continue to trend towards us, which should be helpful to somewhat unpopular Rep. David Cicilline.
Like its neighboring deep south states, the 2006-2010 trend was relatively predictable in that the less elastic heavily black areas trended towards us, particularly in the state's rural Black Belt but also in cities such as Columbus. The whiter counties trended towards the GOP, particularly upstate, but also in coastal retirement areas like Horry County and the whiter suburbs of Columbus. The Charlotte suburbs also trended GOP and at the congressional level this will make it increasingly harder to win the 5th district. However both it and the 7th district remained the least Republican of the 6 GOP held seats and should continue to do so.
South Dakota saw a pretty clear Dem trend among the heavily Native American counties which should come as no surprise. Most of the heavily white counties trended Republican, though those in the west and central parts of the state tended to do so more than those in the east, especially between 2008 and 2012.
In Texas the two maps tell a different but very related story. In the first from 2006-2010 there is a very strong Republican trend in all of the white rural counties and it is especially harsh in eastern Texas. Conversely, the south Texas counties that are heavily Hispanic trended strongly Democratic, while all of the state's major urban areas and many of their suburbs trended Democratic. This last pattern held over into the 2008-2012 trend while the white rural areas also still trended Republican but not as fast. South Texas though was largely stagnant between 2008 and 2012, but this will most likely change by 2016 as Democratic groups finally invest millions into registering minority voters. At the district level, most of the districts are very solidly Republican and no amount of trending at this rate is going to make them winnable. However, the trend is mildly favorable to Democrats in the 6th and more strongly favorable in the 7th. Unfortunately the 14th where we were somewhat competitive last year is trending strongly Republican and should be out of play for the foreseeable future. Among the districts we hold, the 23rd was trending mildly towards us while dark blue districts like the 30th saw a very heavy Democratic trend.
Utah's trends between 2008 and 2012 were fairly mild in many of the most populous areas of the state, but in general the SLC metro area is trending towards us while the more rural parts of southern and eastern Utah trended Republican.
In Vermont, most of the more densely populated areas of the state were fairly stagnant or mildly trended Dem such as Burlington, though the smaller towns, particularly in the northeast and south-central part of the state were trending Republican.
Virginia has the oldest data here thanks to holding elections in 2005 and 2009 and I'll definitely update it after the 2013 elections just 9 and a half months from now. Anyway, a fairly clear pattern emerged between those two cycles. The less white and more urban parts of the state such as the southside, Richmond, and Hampton Roads all trended Democratic while the west of the state trended more strongly Republican. The few counties along the western border that appear to trend Dem only do so because 2009 gubernatorial nominee Creigh Deeds was from there and the sample size for each year is just 3 elections. By district (but looking at the county results), the 9th trended strongly Republican while the 2nd and 4th trended towards Dems
In Washington there was a clear regional pattern to the 2008-2012 trend with eastern Washington trending GOP the most followed by southern Washington. The Puget sound region was neutral to Dem trending while Seattle and its nearer suburbs trended Dem the most. At the district level, the trend is against us for reclaiming the 3rd but with us for flipping the 8th, especially if Reichert retires. All of our currently held districts should remain easy holds.
West Virginia is perhaps more than any other state the most prone to ticket splitting between federal and local statewide office. In sharp contrast to Kentucky which saw it's coal producing counties trend sharply Republican, the coal counties in West Virginia actually trended mildly Dem while those with no coal and a much more urban makeup such as those in the more DC-centric eastern panhandle trended more Republican. In general though, most counties were similar to the statewide swing which has been somewhat against Democrats, but even Mason County which saw this sharpest trend away from Dems still voted Democratic for congress despite being in a new district last year. Looking at the districts, the 2nd district was trending mildly away while the 3rd district trended mildly towards Dems, which should make flipping the former harder and holding the latter easier. It remains to be seen whether West Virginia is moving away from Democrats as a whole at this point, but so far the statewide election data suggests it is solely against anti-coal, liberal federal Dems such as Obama.
Our last state is Wisconsin which was hit fairly hard by the red wave in 2010. The area of the state trending GOP the fastest was the Northwoods, particularly in the west of the state. The already heavily Democratic bastions of Madison and Milwaukee trended more Dem, perhaps reflecting a lower elasticity among the voters there. The Fox Valley, which swing hard to Obama in 2008 and the moderately against him last year, saw a relatively mixed but slightly GOP trend between 2006 and 2010. Unfortunately, the trend was decidedly a negative at the congressional level with the two vote sinks we hold, the 2nd and 4th, trending Dem while the competitive 1st, 7th, and 8th and light blue 3rd all trended Republican.
This marks the end of part 6 and the conclusion of the series until after Virginia's 2013 November elections or I think of something new to map out. I hope you have enjoyed reading!