19 January 2013

An electoral treat for you.

And something educational for us all as well. And fun.

As the returns came in on election night and I noticed how the commentary on certain states has become so pat, so "expected", I decided to make a video collage of one state, and for this example, I picked Vermont.

President Obama won the state of Vermont by a massive +35.60% margin in 2012 and by an even larger +37.01% margin in 2008. But when you know the electoral history of Vermont, this makes it all the more interesting and also the more impressive

I have compiled the network calls for the state of Vermont for every presidential election from 1960-2012 (excepting 1964) in one roughly 6 1/2 minute video. Watch how each network handles calling this state and listen especially to the commentary:

So, between 1960, we went from "this was to be expected" in the case of a Republican win to "this was no surprise" in the case of a Democratic win.

Also, please notice the color-coding that CBS used in the 1980 election: red = DEM, blue = GOP.

The 1984 part of the vid does not show the call for Vermont, but you see it on the map while the announcers talk about a newly elected GOP Senator from Kentucky, namely: Mitch McConnell!

Here is a link of all of the presidential results for Vermont since 1856. Note: reverse color coding (red = DEM, blue = GOP).

Just a quick summary of Vermont: From 1856 through 1960, 104 years, or 27 straight election cycles, Vermont went for the Republican candidate each and every time, without fail. This state holds the longest continuous voting record for the GOP (Maine is a close 2nd) and also holds the superlative record for the highest winning percentage and highest winning percentage margin for any Republican in any presidential election: Calvin Coolidge, 78.22%, a +62.55% margin, in 1924. When people talked about swing states or battleground states, they never were talking about Vermont, that is for sure!

The story goes further. When you see the 1964 LBJ landslide as a blip on the viewscreen for just a second, Vermont was still true to the GOP all the way up to 1992, which is a 33 for 34 record.

Consider this: in 1912, when the GOP got crushed under Wilson (D) and Teddy Roosevelt (Bull Moose) and Taft (R) carried only two states, Vermont was one of the two (Utah was the other). When FDR had his historic 1936 landslide and carried 46 of 48 states, leaving Alf Landon (R) with only 2 states, Vermont was one of those two (Maine was the other).

But in 1992, it all changed. Bill Clinton (D) captured the state and now for 6 cycles in the row, the state has voted reliably Democratic, and with ever increasing margins. Actually, the change really started in 1988: though Bush Sr. won the state, he won it by only +3.52%, one of only two times in history where VT was won by a low single digit margin (1912 was the other time), and for the first time in television history, the networks were unable to immediately call Vermont for the Republicans - in spite of Bush winning a much larger national margin of +7.73%. The 1988 portion of this video explains that somewhat.

My point in all of this is that the current generation, or generation and one half - anyone born from 1980 onward, will have the impression that Vermont was always a massive liberal-Democrat bastion. But it wasn't. Vermont has made one of the most amazing electoral transformations I have ever seen in my life.

Are there some former Democratic bastions that have gone the other way, ala Vermont? Yes! Just take a look at West Virginia, Arkansas and Tennessee - they are the three strongest examples of this kind of transformation (blue to red) going on right now. And soon I will be providing examples of those states as well.

The next time you hear people make generalizations about Presidential Electoral politics, remember this video...

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