10 October 2012

BLUE STATE REPORT I

Running relatively concurrent with the RED STATE REPORTS (report I, report II), I am starting the BLUE STATE REPORT series, which will run once weekly starting today 10/09, then on 10/16, 10/23 and 10/30. 

The complaint has been made in a number of corners that there has been a real dearth of RED STATE polling, and indeed there has been.  To-date, five "RED" states have not been polled at all in 2012. Conversely, only one "BLUE" state has not been polled: DE.

Others would ask: why in the world make a report on "safe" states? Obama is sure to win the core of the DEM states and Romney is sure to win the core of the GOP states, so why bother?

And my answer to this is simple: EBB and FLOW. Think of tides. At high tide, much water rushes onto the beach and floods it. At low tide, the foamy stuff is barely to be seen. And so it is with elections: the winning side will not only win its core states and pick up the necessary battleground states in order to get over 270 EV; it almost always causes depressed margins for the losing side in most of its core states. So, a sign of one side literally running away with the election would be drastically reduced margins for the other side in polling before election day.

In 2008, not only did President Obama win 29 "states" (including DC) and NE-02, but he also caused Democratic "swings" in 46 of 51 "states". This means that in 17 of the 22 states that John McCain won, he won them with a lesser margin that did George W. Bush four years before, in 2004. This did not make the wins any less valid, but it did point to which side was more likely to win in 2008, namely, Obama and the Democratic party. 

Let's take examples from both sides.

EXAMPLE I:

On the Democratic side, let's take RHODE ISLAND, which has the smallest percentage of registered Republicans and the largest DEM VR edge of any state (other than DC). From the link at the state's name, you can see that Rhode Island has been an overwhelmingly Democratic state for the last 84 years! In the last 21 cycles between 1928-2008, the Democratic candidate has won RI 17 times, the GOP candidate only 4 times: 1952, 1956, 1972, 1984.

In order for Ike to capture RI in 1952, which he won by only +1.84%, it took a national Republican landslide of Eisenhower +10.85%  to get him there. In other words, his win in RI was 9.01 points UNDER his national average. In 1956, he landslided in the smallest state in the nation, by +16.52%, above his 1956 national average of +15.40%, which has been a tradition in RI for a long time: to reward the incumbent in a winning re-election with an even higher margin. 

However, between 1956 and 1972, things changed a lot in RI: it got more and more liberal. Nixon won RI in 1972 by +6.18%, but it took a national +23.15% win on the part of Nixon to get him there. In other words, Nixon's win in RI was 16.96 points UNDER his national average. Had Nixon won in 1972 with the same kind of margin as Eisenhower did in either 1952 or 1956, then he would not have picked up RI, plain and simple. 

In 1980, in spite of a national +9.74% winning margin, Reagan was unable to turn this state. It was one of the few Carter states from that fateful year, and that by a landslide: Carter +10.47%. This means that RI went against the national grain by +20.21 points. However, in 1984, President Reagan did pick up RI, by +3.65%. Reagan won in that year nationally by +18.22%, which means that his win in RI was 14.57 points UNDER his national margin.

1984 was the last time that a Republican won this state.

The long and short of it is that today, it takes a massive GOP landslide to flip this state, which has a 6 cycle margin average of DEM +23.38%. Obama won the state by +27.81%, it was his fourth strongest state, after DC, HI and VT.

EXAMPLE II:

On the Republican side, Wyoming has the smallest percentage of registered Democrats and the largest Republican VR edge of any state in the Union. It has been an incredibly Republican state since 1952, voting Republican in every cycle through 2008, except 1964, or 14 of 15 cycles. Resurrecting every dead Democrat who ever lived there and registering him to vote would still not be enough to secure a Democratic presidential win in this the smallest state of the Union by population. In 1964, LBJ picked-up Wyoming, by +13.12%, but it took a massive national landslide win of +22.58% to get him there, which means that his win in WY was 9.46 points UNDER his national margin, a statistic VERY similar to Eisenhower and Rhode Island, 1952. Interesting, eh?

The point of both of these examples is that exceptionally weak polling in either these states would be a sure sign that the other side is heading for a massive landslide nationally, no doubt about it.

So, with that in mind, here are the 20 BLUE STATES:



Now, some may complain that certain states that have sometimes shown narrow Obama margins in 2012 are on this map, but the current margin averages and the history of these states makes them DEM states. And Obama is likely to win most all if not all of them, even in a close election. These are all of the states that Kerry won in 2004, minus NH and plus NM. Or you can say that these are all the Gore states from 2000, minus IA.

Here is the blue state table:

Rank '08 State EV 2012 Margin - '08 2008 Final PA Diff. 1 2012 Current PA Diff. Over 2008 PA Diff. 2 ('08 Margin)
1 DC 3 85,93 69,00 16,93 72,00 3,00 13,93
2 HI 4 45,26 36,00 9,26 32,00 -4,00 13,26
3 VT 3 37,01 27,00 10,01 37,00 10,00 0,01
4 RI 4 27,81 18,10 9,71 24,20 6,10 3,61
5 NY 29 26,86 29,00 -2,14 26,00 -3,00 0,86
6 MA 11 25,81 21,33 4,48 23,67 2,34 2,14
7 MD 10 25,44 17,30 8,14 21,37 4,07 4,07
8 IL 20 25,11 24,90 0,21 18,10 -6,80 7,01
9 DE 3 24,98 20,70 4,28 --- --- ---
10 CA 55 24,03 24,00 0,03 20,00 -4,00 4,03
11 CT 7 22,37 21,33 1,04 15,00 -6,33 7,37
12 ME 4 17,32 17,15 0,17 14,73 -2,42 2,59
13 WA 12 17,08 14,60 2,48 15,45 0,85 1,63
14 MI 17 16,44 14,44 2,00 6,27 -8,17 10,17
15 OR 7 16,35 15,57 0,78 9,00 -6,57 7,35
16 NJ 15 15,53 16,00 -0,47 15,33 -0,67 0,20
17 NM 5 15,13 9,26 5,87 9,86 0,60 5,27
18 WI 10 13,90 11,34 2,56 8,65 -2,69 5,25
20 PA 20 10,31 7,30 3,01 7,50 0,20 2,81
21 MN 10 10,24 12,00 -1,76 10,00 -2,00 0,24


I made this table a little more simplified than the RED STATE table, only because every BLUE STATE has been polling this year, except DE. There were so many red states not polled in 2012, but polled once or twice in 2011, that it warranted an extended table for those states. That is not necessary here.

So, the legend:

-The number in "Rank '08" is the partisan ranking, starting with the state with the highest margin for the national winner, and ending with the state with the highest winning margin for the national loser. This chart, therefore, is essentially the top half of the "everything table" I submit with each Electoral Landscape report. And the bottom half is the chart for, you guessed it, the RED STATE REPORT.

-Each state name is hyperlinked to the STATE BIO that I have written, right here on Blogspot. These are long, intensive bios. Take a read, you may enjoy it!

-The number of electoral votes is self-explanatory.

-The winning margin is a + (plus) value. In other words, the "15.13" you see for New Mexico means that Obama won that state by a +15.13% margin in 2008.

-The "Final PA 2008" is the final polling average I calculated for each state on the night before the election in 2008. It is hyperlinked, you will notice, to the final Poll Convergence (no. 12) for that year.

-"Diff. 1" is the difference between Obama's end polling average in 2008 and the actual results. For instance, in Hawaii, his one and only poll of the state showed him with a +36 over McCain. But he won the state by a whopping +45.26%, which means he EXCEEDED he end-polling by 9.26 points in 2008. So, a postive value here means that he did better than the polls. A negative value here (i.e., MN) means that he did worst than the end polling. Now, up to this point, this is all past history, but it is important as a reference point for what happens next.

"2012 Current PA" is the current margin average of polls for each state, as of TODAY.

Now things get interesting:

"Diff. over 2008" compares the polling margin right now to the end polling margin from 2008. A postive value (see: RI) means that the current polling is showing better margins than 4 years ago. A negative value means that Obama has lost ground in polling in those states. This is the number to watch as the election nears.

-"Diff. 2" compares the current polling average to the actual 2008 results. It is fun to see, but has no real bearing on all of this.

But it is important to be armed with this information, for CONTEXT IS EVERYTHING.

So, here we go:

DC. Not much to say. DC is the absolute Democratic bastion of the nation, an 12 for 12 "state", soon to be 13 for 13 "state." The Democratic hold on DC is absolutely unbreakable. The WORST showing for a Democrat was for McGovern in 1972, and he still won DC by a massive +56.54% margin over Nixon. Notice that Obama outperformed the one and only poll of DC by almost 17 points in 2008. Notice that the one and only poll of DC this year actually give him a higher margin in the "District". Most likely, the President will exceed his record setting 92.46% winning percent and his +85.92% winning margin. The GOP does not even try to campaign here.

HI. Obama's birthplace, and source to many birther conspiracy nutbag theories, is just as solid for Obama in 2012 as it was in 2008. As was the case with DC, Obama exceeded his end-polling in the Aloha State, by 9.26 points. The one and only poll of HI showed Obama +36, he won by +45.26%. The one and only poll of HI this time around shows a lesser margin: Obama +32. But assuming that he exceeds the polling again, the I expect a +40 Obama win in his birth-state once again. Hawaii is an 11 for 13 Democratic state, having only gone for Nixon in 1972 and Reagan in 1984. Interestingly enough, it gave the Republican incumbents both landslide wins - so in this respect, HI is not like RI. Plus, HI does not do voter registration by party breakdown. We only see from it's voting history that it is one of the most reliable Democratic states out there.

VT. Once the most Republican state in the Union, and also with the longest unbroken GOP voting record ever (27 consecutive GOP cycles from 1856-1960), Vermont has developed into a pretty much unbreakable Democratic-Liberal bastion. The only state in the nation to vote on and PASS single-payer health insurance, it gave Obama a whalloping +37.01% win in 2008, and, like DC and HI, Obama exceeded his polling in 2008, by 10.01 points! This is very important in this case, for in 2008, the end polling showed Obama +27,which he then exceeded by 10.01 points. This time, the current polling shows him already at Obama +37. Were he to exceed it by ten points again, then he would win the "Green Mountain" state by +47!. This will likely not happen, but indeed it is possible that the President breaks the +40 margin mark. Now, there are pockets of VT that are still very conservative, and were it so the Obama were losing nationally by a sizeable margin, then I bet a poll of VT would show him winning by maybe single digits. Just 12 years ago, in 2000, Gore won this state by "only" +9.94% in the same year as he beat Bush 43 by +0.52% in the NPV but lost in the EC. However, 8 years ago, in 2004, while losing to Bush 43 by 2.46%, Kerry carried the state by +20.14%, a margin shift of +10.20% toward the Democratic Party. In 2008, the state "swung" by nearly 17 points again toward the Democratic Party. It would be nice to see one more poll of VT, to see if this margin is holding. I suspect that, regardless of the national dogfight, it is.

RI. Was already discussed above as an example. Go read the BIO of RI to find out why it, alongside MA, shifted to the Democratic party in  1928. Interesting stuff.

NY. The fifth strongest Democratic state (in the partisan rankings since 1964, it has often been number five for the Democrats, BTW); huge winning margins out of NY, IL and CA make for a large padding in the NPV that makes it hard for a Republican candidate to beat.  Since 1932, or 20 election cycles, New York has gone for the Democrat 14 times and for the Republican six times (1948, 1952, 1956, 1972, 1980, 1984). New York is an outstanding state to watch polling margins for Democrats, both in good and bad years, for there are just many, many polls that come out of this state. Alone the difference between 2004 and 2008 and again between 2008 and 2012 is drastic: 

In 2004, from RCP, you can see that the majority of polls for Kerry showed margins in the teens, mostly in the middle teens. Of the 19 polls in the Empire State, Kerry vs. Bush, 2004, 13 of those 19 polls showed Kerry in single digits or lower. Only 6 polls had Kerry at +20 or higher.  

Contrast that to 2008, which you can see either at RCP or from my PC Convergence 12.  RCP has34 polls for NY in the list going back to June 2007, I have 32, going back the end of December 2007.Of the 31 polls only for 2008, Obama was above +30 for 2 polls, above +20 for 6 polls, between +10-+20 for 16 polls, under +10 for 7 polls, and McCain actually won 1 poll. Kerry never got to +30 in any poll of New York.  

Thus far, in 2012, there have been 16 polls of New York, Obama has hit +30 in 2 polls just like in 2008, but over +20 in a whalloping 13 polls. Only one single poll of New York for this year, Quinnipiac from 02/15, has shown the President in the teens instead of the twenties in landslide margin. This is verifiable proof that there has been absolutely no erosion for the President in NY.

In 1988, when Bush 41 won the election by +7.73%, Dukakis still carried NY, by +4.10%. This means that NY went against the national tide by +11.83%. This makes NY, along with 9 other states and DC, one of the "6ers", Democratic States that have gone Democratic for 6 cycles in a row. Ronald Reagan won this large electoral prize in both 1980 and again in 1984, but in order to capture NY in 1980, but it took a national +9.74% win to give him a lean +2.67% win in NY. In other words, NY was 7.07 points UNDER his national average. Likewise, an +18.22% massive national landslide margin brought him a +8.01% win in NY. This means that NY way 10.21 points UNDER his national margin, even more so than in 1980. Considering that NY's voter registration has moved more and more democratic, I suspect that it would take a GOP +15 win nationally to pick this state up, but surely polling from New York in the low teens for any Democratic candidate would be a bad sign, a pretty sure sign that the GOP is going to win in that year.

MA, the heart of liberalism and the home of a number of Democratic Presidential nominees (Kennedy, Dukakis, Kerry), is a less Democratic state than people may think. Actually, the unaffiliated voters have the plurality in VR in this state, but they tend to vote overwhelmingly for the Democrat. Massachusetts has a massive Democratic voting record: from 1932-2008, 21 cycles, Massachusetts has selected the Democratic candidate 17 times and a Republican four times: Eisenhower and Reagan twice. All other Republican presidential candidate in these 80 years have failed in the Bay State. You may want to go read the BIO from MA to learn why it, alongside RI, already moved into the Democratic column in 1928 instead of in 1932. Massachusetts has a 6 cycle (1988-2008) Democratic winning margin average of +23.00%. It was the only state in the Union to resist the Nixon landslide of 1972. But in 1980, probably in protest over Teddy Kennedy's failed shot at upseating Jimmy Carter for the nomination, MA did an interesting thing and gave Independent candidate John Anderson 15.15% of the vote. Now, that was a major protest vote I have have ever seen on in my life.  With only 41.90% of the vote, Ronald Reagan took this state from Jimmy Carter, a +0.15% winning margin, the closest state of the night in 1980. In 1984, even with a landslide win of +18.22% nationally, Reagan kept Massachusetts, but by a very lean +2.79% margin. This means that MA went for the "Gipper", but by 15.43 points UNDER his national margin. Fast forward to 1988: Dukakis, a Governor from Massachusetts, picked up MA for the Democratic party while losing the general to Bush 41, but notice the states: Bush 41 won nationally by +7.73%, Dukakis picked up his home state by +7.85%, which means a 15.58 point shift away from the National margin. Sound familiar? Looks alot like the margin difference statistic from 1984, eh?  This means that 20 years ago, Massachusetts was between 14-16 points more Democratic than the nation as a whole. That changed in 1996, when Bill Clinton just tromped in the state with a +33.39% margin over Dole, but won nationally by +8.52%, which means that MA went for Clinton by 24.87 points OVER the national margin. Fast forward again to 2004: Kerry won his home-state by +25.16%, but Bush 43 won nationally by +2.46%, which means that MA went against the Republican national margin by 27.62 points. Looks alot like 1996, when you see this statistic.

And now, for the first time, a former REPUBLICAN Governor of Massachusetts is the GOP nominee. And yet, the margins for Obama in Massachusetts look a lot like 2008. Were these margins to drop severely, I would say that Romney is heading for a national win. 

MD. This state have become a Democratic bastion as strong as Rhode Island in many ways: it has a large VR edge for the Democrats and has gone for the Democratic presidential candidates by generally increasing margins since 1992. Overall, its voting record is not as Democratic as Massachusetts or Minnesota, but the secure margins that have developed here make it very hard for a Republican to win. Take 1972 out of the picture just for a moment, and from 1968-1988, this was a single digit win state for the one party or the other. This is one of the few states that stayed in the Carter column in 1980. Reagan won here in 1984 by +5.49%, 12.73 points UNDER his national margin. Bush 41 retained the state in 1988, but barely: by +2.91%. Since, then it has been solid DEM territory. There have been four polls of MD in this year, between +19 and +23 for Obama.

IL. Really nothing to say here. Obama is not, under any circumstances, going to lose his second "home state". His +25.11% winning margin from 2008 is an important lesson in CONTEXT IS EVERYTHING: it was the highest winning margin for any candidate, R or D, in Illinois, since 1924, or over 84 years time! This means that Obama outperformed FDR, Eisenhower, Nixon, Reagan and Clinton in this state. The Obama-heavy vote out of Chicago precludes any kind of Repubican win here, plain and simple. That being said, the composite polling average for Obama in IL is under his 2008 statistic. It will still be a landslide in 2012, but probably not a +25 win for him.

DE. Delaware is the only BLUE STATE that has not been polled at all. Joe Biden's home state, it is an absolute shoo-in for the President. Its margins from the past have been close to  but not identical to those from CT. If Obama is winning in CT, he is guaranteed to be winning in DE. BTW, Obama's +24.98% winning margin  from 2008 was the highest margin for any candidate since Herbert Hoover in 1928.

CA. The biggest electoral prize of all, and become more Democratic from cycle to cycle. Obama's +24.03% margin from 2008 was the biggest win for any candidate since 1936! It is absolutely certain that President Obama will win CA and its 55 EV, but just as important is a very large margin for him here, for crushing margins in CA, NY and IL can pretty much preclude a Republican candidate from winning the NPV. This is another good state to compare overall polling for Kerry vis-a-vis Obama:

In 2004, there were 34 polls from California. Kerry won all of them. But he did not win even one with over +18. He won 3 polls with between +15 and +18. He won 17 polls with between +10 and +15. The other 14 polls had Kerry in single digits over Bush. Kerry won CA by +9.95% in 2004.

Fast forward to 2008: according to RCP, there were 28 polls of California,but I have 34 polls listed at Poll Convergence no. 12. RCPs stats go back to February 2008, mine go back to December 2007. Using RCPs stats, of those 28 polls: Obama was over +20 in 7 polls (he hit +27 twice). He was between +15 and +20 8 times. He was between +10 and +15 4 times and in single digits 8 times. That is a huge difference to 2004-

Fast forward to 2012, thus far: 18 head-to-head polls (the 19th was a generic), of which Obama has been above +20 9 times. He even hit +31 once. He has been in the teens 9 times. He has never gone into single digits in this cycle. His current average in CA: +20.00.

The polling in California is important to watch in the even of a Democratic - or- a GOP wave.

CT. CT is the one single Obama +20-or-more state from 2008 where his margin has slipped drastically. It is highly unlikely that Obama will hit +20 this time around, but it is just as unlikely that Mitt Romney will pick up the state. In the BIO of Connecticut, I noticed a very identifiable pattern of voting behaviour. It has to do with the number of cycles per party. Go read it. Enlightening stuff. Obama's +22.37% win here in 2008 was the biggest win for any candidate since 1964 and you have to go all the way back to 1924 to find a Republican to have won this state with a larger margin. His current polling is about 7 points under his 2008 win and 6 points under his polling average from 2008. There can be no doubt that Mitt Romney has made inroads, visibly inroads, in Connecticut. Only, it will not be enough for him to win. Obama will still win this state with a double-digit margin.

ME. Maine has made a transformation very similar to Vermont's. It has the second longest continuous GOP voting record, from 1856-1960, excepting 1912, making it a 26 for 27 state in that time period. With the Clinton revolution in 1992, this state has now voted reliably Democratic. Current polling shows the President under but not far from his +17.32% winning margin in 2008. More importantly, 3 different polls show that he is winning both Congressional Districts, which is important as ME, like NE, does elector splitting.

WA. Washington State, sometimes also called the "Soviet of Seattle", is a bedrock DEM state on the West Coast. The Bio of Washington State is full of good stuff to read. The last SUSA poll of WA shows Obama at a crushing +20. I have been researching this  and have yet to find a poll for any presidential candidate of any party in the last 32 years that has enjoyed this high a polling number. WA was one of the Dukakis pick-up states in 1988, which makes it a 6-for-6 DEM state. Obama's current polling is +15.45 for WA, and is higher than his end-polling for 2008.

MI. Michigan may be hard to place this year. Technically, it is a solid DEM state. Obama won here by a massive +16.44% margin, and it is one of the unsung landslides that somehow never really got noticed in all the excitement of 2008. But lately, MI has been acting more like a Battleground state. The numbers in the next two weeks will tell us which is more fitting to describe the Wolverine State. Considering that Kerry still won here in 2004 against a Republican incumbent who made a hard play for the state, my gut tells me that even under rough circumstances, the President has built enough of a buffer here to insure a win in November. Wait and see.

OR. Oregon is a state that Republicans would love to turn into a RED STATE. Every four years they talk about Oregon making the switch, and four years later, Oregon is still a BLUE STATE.
Bush 43 fought for this state to practically a draw in 2000, but Al Gore eeked out a +0.44% win. In both 2004 and 2008, it both shifted and trended more toward the Democratic Party. Go read the BIO for Oregon to see how similar that electoral histories of Oregon and Washington State are to each other. Interesting stuff. Sadly, there has been a real dearth of polling for the "Beaver State": there have only been four polls for Oregon, but the last one showed Obama +9. He will surely win this state, but probably by a lesser margin than in 2008. The massive voting out of Portland pretty much makes this a DEM take-away every time. Oregon does voting purely my mail-in ballot, so in the case of a very close election, it can take days to get the final count in.


NJ. Ah, New Joisee. Not just for jealous Housewives. Bush made a serious play for NJ in 2004:  Kerry still won by +6.68%. Obama had a very solid +15.53% landslide here in 2008. The current polling average for the Garden State shows Obama +15.33%, almost exactly his winning margin from 2008. Even the Governor of NJ, Chris Christie, said that were he Mitt Romney's running-mate, he would be unable to pick up this state for the GOP. Obama will win here and it will be a double digit margin. If Obama wins here in 2012 - and he will - then NJ will set a record for the longest consecutive Democratic presidential wins in this state. 

NM. With a +15.13% margin in 2008, Obama surprised many by vastly outperforming the end-polling. Reason: the badly calculated Hispanic votae. This time around, NM is not even considered a battleground state. The GOP is spending $0.00 on advertising for Romney in NM. They have already ceded it to Obama. This is an interesting turn of events when we consider that NM was the second closest race of 2000 (Gore +0.06%) and one of the two closest of 2004 (Bush +0.79%). With over 47% Hispanic population, tendency rising, and a real problem on the part of the GOP in reaching out to Hispanic voters, it looks very much like NM is going to become a deep, deep core DEM state for years to come.

WI and PA are both technically DEM states, but they, like MI, are acting like they may become battlegrounds again. The bios to both of these states, however, are very interesting. I will write more about these two states in the next BLUE STATE REPORT, no. II.

MN. Minnesota has, next to DC, the longest continuous DEM voting record. It is currently a 9-for-9 state (from 1976 to the present) and about to become a 10-for-10 state. McCain made a play for MN in 2008 and indeed it reduced the standard DEM margin here by about 2 points, but on election night, Obama still won this state easily, by +10.24%. The PPP (D) poll from MN that just came out today, shows Obama +10. It will not be competitive in 2012. Minnesota has an extremely strong Democratic voting record since 1932 and more importantly, regardless of the national outcome of a re-election or an incumbent election, MN has never voted against a Democratic incumbent, ever: 1884 and 1888, for Grover Cleveland (D). 1892, again for Grover Cleveland (D). For Woodrow Wilson in both 1912 and 1916. For FDR all four times, and also for Truman in 1948. For Kennedy in 1960 and for incumbent Johnson in 1964. For Carter in both 1976 and 1980. For Clinton in both 1992 and 1996. Were Minnesota to become a GOP pick-up in 2012 would be a record-setter in its electoral history, one that is extremely unlikely to happen.

So, that was the first BLUE STATE REPORT.



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