Monthly Archives: November 2007

Do Democrats Still Have Room for Growth in the Northeast?

CQ Weekly suspects that the Northeast could still be “fertile ground” for Democrats.

The Northeast, which has long stood out as the nation’s least conservative region, produced the biggest bonanza for the Democrats in their surge to a House majority last year: 11 of the 30 seats the party took from the GOP were in the area. Republicans say some of those setbacks were symptomatic of that particular election year, and predict some 2008 take-backs. But Democrats say this “reverse alignment” — counterbalancing the Southern shift to the GOP — rolls on. Among close GOP survivors of 2006 who are targeted again: Connecticut’s Christopher Shays, the only Republican to hold one of New England’s 22 House seats.

Northeastern Congressional Districts (CQ Weekly):

Northeast Congressional


Indiana is a Red State, Right?

Indiana has been as red as the Hoosiers’ jerseys for 40 years, but a new Indianapolis Star poll suggests the state might be “thinking blue.”

Disillusioned with President Bush‘s handling of the war, the economy and immigration, nearly half of likely voters in Indiana appear poised to buck 40 years of tradition and vote for a Democratic presidential ticket — if it includes Sen. Evan Bayh, according to a new Indianapolis Star-WTHR (Channel 13) poll.

The poll of 600 Hoosiers — including 449 who say they will definitely vote in the November 2008 election — revealed a growing sense of pessimism, with nearly three-quarters saying the nation is headed in the wrong direction and 28 percent approving of George W. Bush‘s performance as president.


Forty-seven percent said they anticipate voting for the Democratic presidential candidate if Bayh is on the ticket, compared with 33 percent who said they anticipate voting for the GOP candidate.


The presidential race becomes closer when Bayh is taken out of the equation, with the outcome hanging in the hands of the nearly one-third of voters who said they remain undecided. About half of them said their votes would depend on who the candidates are.

 Indiana has voted for the GOP presidential candidate  in all but three elections for the last 100 years.

 George W. Bush v. John Kerry in 2004 (

2004 Indiana Presidential


Evan Bayh v. Marvin Scott in 2004 (

2004 Indiana Senate

Quilted North America

It’s easy to divide North America into red and blue, or Jesusland and the United States of Canada as one popular map described it in 2004. It’s also easy to cast the New Continent as a melting pot or as one big purple state of mixed identities. But both of those descriptions are false.

The truth is that North America is a quilt of different political backgrounds and heritages. Some of these are strong and storied. Others are emerging or evaporating.

The Northeastern part of the Untied States is blue country, but libertarian farmers in the Northeast Kingdom of Vermont have little in common with the bluebloods of Newport, R.I., who have little in common with Puerto Ricans in the Bronx.

Likewise, hog farmers in North Carolina share little with Mormons in Utah except for the fact that most of them both vote Republican.

Many of these American groups – or “tribes” as Doug Sosnik, Ron Fournier and Matthew Dowd call them – are tight knit in of themselves, so it’s inaccurate to call our land a melting pot. But it also wouldn’t make sense to throw them into a red or blue vat.

Many demographers have attempted to identify all of the different groups or cast their boundaries. This is an impossible task and is bound for failure for two reasons. First, at some point you get into the business of microtargeting; and second, someone will always disagree with you.

The latest pollster/demographer to take a stab is Mark Penn, whose book “Microtrends” has been sitting on my desk waiting for me for a couple of months.

But a different book, Joel Garreau’s “The Nine Nations of North America” has already survived the test of time. First published in 1981, it outlined a model for the nine socioeconomic regions of the continent.

The map speaks for itself, but I’ll just make a couple of comments about its strengths and weakness and also offer a side note.

  • Strengths – Quebec and Dixie are indeed very unique regions. Secession is part of their DNA’s.
  • Weaknesses – “The Foundry” is very clumsy.
  • Side Note – Dixie correlates with SEC Country and the Breadbasket with the Big 12, while the Foundary is roughly Big Ten territory (if it were shifted a bit west).

Garreau’s “Nine Nations”:

Nine Nations

I asked Joel Kotkin, the master demographer, what he thought of Garreau’s model and he emailed this response: “Garreau got the MexAmerica vs. Ecotopia right on the money. The divides are racial, cultural, climactic. Quebec is a no-brainer.”

Agreed. I also asked Kotkin what he thought about another map, one that the fine people at Strange Maps published last week. It was created by Matthew White and outlined what the continent would look like if it was “Balkanized.”

White outlines areas that:

“1. administered themselves as autonomous nations at some point in American history, or
2. shed blood to achieve or maintain their independence, or at least
3. threatened to.”

White’s “Balkanized North America”:

Balkanized North America

White has historical references for each of these would-be states on his Web site.

Kotkin noted that the map is very flawed, which I agree with. He also pointed out that the United States had “total control” of the West Coast and High Plains.

It’s also important to note that many of these territories never had the teeth to secede, such as Louisiana, Vermont or Florida. But that’s nitpicking. The strengths of this map are that many of these regions continue to carry a strong self-identity today, including Dixie, Texas (which was actually a C.S.A. state), Deseret and Vermont.

Editor’s note: I omitted the “Ten Regions of American Politics” because it’s just a model of the United States and not the continent.


Hanging Chads 11.21.07

I’m off for Thanksgiving to Kane County, Ill., which is Chicago’s version of our Loudoun County in Virginia.  For those of you who don’t know Loudoun, it’s a county where subdivisions and strip malls have quickly replaced farmland in the last 15 years.

Kane is also the easternmost county in retiring former Speaker Dennis Hastert’s 14th District, which CQ calls “potentially an intriguing bellweather.” 

CQ notes that Democrats have had success recently in exurbs, which were formerly Republican strongholds.  I think it’s important to note, however, that exurban voters are not going blue.  Rather, they are independent voters who have been siding with Democrats.

In Loudoun County and the outer suburbs of Northern Virginia, Democrats have been rising because they’ve been running on a platform of effective governing.  And that’s mostly what these voters care about – education and traffic.

I wrote a National Journal article about these types of voters in August titled “Is North Carolina the New Virginia?”  It asked whether the changes and growth in Wake County, N.C. are similar to those that occurred in Fairfax County, Va. a couple of decades ago. 

The National Journal article is available behind the subscription wall here and here.

So, is Kane County, Ill. like Loudoun County, Va.?  I’ll report back to you on Monday.  In the meantime, here is some great Thanksgiving reading:

  • Reid Wilson dives into the newly released 2008 Almanac for American Politics and analyzes the ten fastest-growing and the ten fastest-shrinking congressional districts.  Our question: how is LA-02 not on this list? 
  • CQ notes that the race to replace Hastert could measure Democrats’ support in the exurbs.
  • Serious Sports News Network has Obama and McCain agreeing that the Electoral College makes about as much sense as the BCS.
  • San Diego Union-Tribune reports on the latest effort to revive “Republican-sponsored initiative to change the way California’s presidential electoral votes are allocated.”
  • This isn’t map related, but as a sportsman, it’s great to see Kent Conrad and Mike Huckabee honored by Outdoor Life for their contributions to hunting and fishing.

Have a great week and don’t forget that the first Thanksgiving was not in Massachusetts. It was in the proud commonwealth of Virginia.  Happy 400th birthday Virginia.






The 2008 House Electoral Map

The SideTrack reminds us that CQ has released its 2008 House landscape maps. As an alumni of National Journal, the Electoral Map won’t give CQ too much praise, but these are damn fine maps.

And if you’re looking for a great resource to supplement these maps and tell the story behind each district, the absolutely vital Almanac of American Politics has just released in 2008 edition.

Now, on to the maps. CQ has 10 district marked (in yellow) as “No Clear Favorite” They are as follows:

  • AZ-01 — Rick Renzi (R) is retiring (re-elected in 2006 with 52%).
  • CA-04 — John Doolittle (R) is running (re-elected in 2006 with 49%).
  • FL-16 — Tim Mahoney (D) is running (elected in 2006 with 50%).
  • IL-11 — Jerry Weller (R) is retiring (re-elected in 2006 with 55%).
  • KS-02 — Nancy Boyda (D) is running (elected in 2006 with 51%).
  • NC-08 — Robin Hayes (R) is running (re-elected in 2006 with 50%).
  • NM-01 — Heather Wilson (R) is running for Senate (re-elected in 2006 with 50%).
  • OH-15 — Deborah Pryce (R) is retiring (re-elected in 2006 with 50%).
  • OH-16 — Ralph Regula (R) is retiring (re-elected in 2006 with 58%).

The first map is CQ‘s projected landscape for 2008:
CQ Projected Landscape

The next two maps are (1) the current landscape and (2) the 2004 presidential results by district. George W. Bush won 255 of the nation’s 435 congressional district. Sort of gives congressional Democrats reason to tack to the center, doesn’t it?

CQ Current Landscape

CQ 2004 Presidential Results

Onion: “Americans Announce They’re Dropping Out Of Presidential Race”

It was fun while it lasted, but it looks like voters have had enough. “Citing exhaustion, an overcrowded field of candidates, and little hope of making a difference in 2008, roughly 300 million Americans announced Tuesday that they will be leaving the presidential race behind,” the Onion joked last week.

It looks like election fatigue cuts across regional lines, too:

Americans Drop out of Presidential Race

What Makes Ron Paul Nation Tick?

Our friend Conn Carroll at The Hotline’s Blogometer has a pretty good guess. He writes:

“Looking at‘s instant Per Capita Donors (donors per million in population) map, however, we were struck by how closely Paul’s strongest donor states matched up with those where the federal government owns more than 25% of all land. Is it really that much of a surprise that Paul’s financial support is strongest among those that have to put up with the feds as their landlords?”

These are the top ten states for Paul donations per capita (in Q4 to date) followed by the percentage of land that the feds own.

  1. New Hampshire  — 361 Paul donors per1 million residents / 12.7% federal land
  2. Montana — 307 / 28%
  3. Alaska — 299 /NA (but I’m guessing it’s way over 50%)
  4. Nevada — 253 / 83%
  5. Idaho — 241 / 62%
  6. Washington — 236 / 28%
  7. Utah –231 / 64%
  8. Arizona — 223 / 47%
  9. Wyoming — 216 / 49%
  10. Colorado — 213 / 36%

To the maps: The first map show the proportion of land in each state owned by the feds and the second map shows donations for Paul per capita in each state.

Fedearl Land Ownership

Ron Paul Donations Q4