Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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August 12, 2010

ONE OF THESE REGIONS IS NOT LIKE THE OTHERS.... In the new NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll, Democrats enjoy the narrowest of leads over Republicans on the generic ballot, 44% to 43%. That's a slight improvement over June, when Republicans led by two, but the parties have effectively been tied on this question since last fall, trading small leads month to month.

generic_ballot_by_region.png

What those top-line results don't show, however, is that there are some interesting regional differences. Taegan Goddard flagged this tidbit from the MSNBC report: "The GOP has a HUGE generic-ballot edge in the South (52%-31%), but it doesn't lead anywhere else. In the Northeast, Dems have a 55%-30% edge; in the Midwest, they lead 49%-38%; and in the West, it's 44%-43%."

I made another homemade chart to help drive the point home. (The lucrative world of blog-chart making awaits, right?)

Now, I'm not sure why the Republicans' 21-point lead in the South is all-caps "huge," but Dems' 25-point lead in the Northeast isn't, but nevertheless, it is a reminder that the playing field is not altogether level. The GOP's strength has been in the South for several years, and that clearly hasn't changed.

Of course, this is only a guide, pointing to regional differences -- it doesn't mean Democratic candidates outside the South have nothing to worry about. As First Read noted, "Many of the congressional districts Republicans are targeting outside of the South resemble some of those Southern districts they're hoping to win back in November -- where you have whiter and older voters. Think Stephanie Herseth's seat in South Dakota; Tim Walz' seat in Minnesota; Leonard Boswell's seat in Iowa; and Ike Skelton's in Missouri."

Still, we've been talking for years about the Republican Party becoming increasingly regionalized, and these trends are continuing.

Steve Benen 2:05 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (36)

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Comments

Let 'em secede this time. I'm fed up with their obstructing and twisting our politics to feed their resentments.

Posted by: Basilisc on August 12, 2010 at 2:10 PM | PERMALINK

"Now, I'm not sure why the Republicans' 21-point lead in the South is all-caps "huge," but Dems' 25-point lead in the Northeast isn't"

Because the northeast isn't "real" America.

Posted by: SaintZak on August 12, 2010 at 2:11 PM | PERMALINK

I just came from my sister's place in Florida. Her cable service doesn't have either CNN or MSNBC as part of her basic service. The local news is uniformly conservitard. Throughout much of the South, Fox IS the "news." with them as an only resort, I guess you can't be surprised at the number of brain dead voters.

Posted by: candideinnc on August 12, 2010 at 2:11 PM | PERMALINK

"Now, I'm not sure why the Republicans' 21-point lead in the South is all-caps 'huge,' but Dems' 25-point lead in the Northeast isn't"

You’re not sure why ?

How long have you been watching/reading the MSM ?

Posted by: Joe Friday on August 12, 2010 at 2:32 PM | PERMALINK

http://fuckthesouth.com/

Just checked. Still there. Read it again.

Posted by: mister moonlight on August 12, 2010 at 2:32 PM | PERMALINK

"Let 'em secede this time."
Nah, allowing them to withdraw from the union is clearly illegal. This time maybe we should kick them out.

Posted by: fredegrar on August 12, 2010 at 2:38 PM | PERMALINK

In David Hackett Fischer's magisterial "Albion's Seed", he has an appendix (or a chapter near the end) using state presidential voting maps to document what he argues is the persistence of British folkways from four distinct regional migrations (East Anglia to New England, Southwestern Royalists to the Tidewater region, Quaker Midlands to the Mid-Atlantic, and the Scots-Irish Borderlands to the Backcountry/ Appalachia. I'm guessing this graph fits right in.

Posted by: massappeal on August 12, 2010 at 2:43 PM | PERMALINK

Both Maine and Appalachia were settled about the same time, by the same people. Judging by the disparate accents heard there today, it is hard to believe.

Which is another way of saying people become insular- and insulated (even, if you will, inbred), leading to differing world views.

Or sumpin'.

Posted by: DAY on August 12, 2010 at 2:50 PM | PERMALINK

Oddly enough life expectancy is also lower in the south... 74 years for Alabama, Mississippi and Louisiana vs 78 years for the nation as a whole.

if I lived in one of those states, I'd be upset and demand action from my elected officials.

Posted by: KurtRex1453 on August 12, 2010 at 2:51 PM | PERMALINK

If the south wants to secede, fine, but they need to pay off their part of the national debt.

It would be just like them to elect presidents/legislators who borrowed the country into the ground, and then leave the Yankees to pay it all off.

Posted by: jimBOB on August 12, 2010 at 2:56 PM | PERMALINK

Given your comment about the relative size of the differences in the South (HUGE) and the Northeast, your subsequent statement that the Republican Party is becoming a southern regional party could just as well be applied to the Democtratic Party in the Northeast

Posted by: Mudge on August 12, 2010 at 3:00 PM | PERMALINK

Pat Toomey adds on TV in north central PA are on constantly. He is tying Joe Sestak with Pelosi.I have not seen one add for Sestak.I hope the Dems come out in the other parts of PA, because I think Sestak is toast in the Alabama parts of Pa.

Posted by: edr on August 12, 2010 at 3:10 PM | PERMALINK

Apparently Mudge is quantitatively challenged. The South is the ONLY area where the GOP has a generic ballot. The Dems have the advantage in the other three areas, with a large advantage in the Northeast. Does that help explain it?

Posted by: Tired Liberal on August 12, 2010 at 3:14 PM | PERMALINK

....if I lived in one of those states, I'd be upset and demand action from my elected officials.

Ha! I've called Richard Shelby's office a few times, Jeff Sessions a couple. You think the Senators with the safest seats in the land care about the 20% of their constituents who don't toe the Crazy Party line?

Posted by: Equal Opportunity Cynic on August 12, 2010 at 3:14 PM | PERMALINK

@Mudge, 15:00

It could, if the Dems didn't have an edge -- however small -- in the rest of the country as well. Repub edge in the South is, OTOH, *unique*; it is limited to that single region.

Posted by: exlibra on August 12, 2010 at 3:19 PM | PERMALINK

By the way, you'd think the regional concentration of Republicans would benefit Democrats in the Electoral College and in the Senate.

That it hasn't, really, is a testimony to the power of all the tiny Republican states that wield disproportionate power. They're only reflected in the regional aggregation for the South because ND, SD, Wyoming, etc. are overwhelmed by their regional neighbors in this data (but not, sadly, in the Senate).

Posted by: Equal Opportunity Cynic on August 12, 2010 at 3:25 PM | PERMALINK

Given your comment about the relative size of the differences in the South (HUGE) and the Northeast, your subsequent statement that the Republican Party is becoming a southern regional party could just as well be applied to the Democtratic Party in the Northeast

Look very closely at the charts, you will notice that the Democrats also have a big majority in the Midwest and a smaller lead in the West, which is conspicuously tending Democratic the last few elections.

Posted by: Midland on August 12, 2010 at 3:26 PM | PERMALINK

Well, Tired Liberal, admittedly the south is the only area where the Rebublicans currently lead, but I'd argue that the Democratic leads in the Midwest and West are not that significant and may reverse over time. Both regions certainly are in play. The Republicans are only solidly ahead in the south and the Democrats are only solidly ahead in the northeast. If we are to ascribe Republicans as a regional party, perhaps the case can be made for the Democrats as well.

Do the same breakout monthly for the last year and let's see how the midwest and west shake out.

There's a quantitative challenge for you, critic of quantitativeness that you are.

Posted by: Mudge on August 12, 2010 at 3:30 PM | PERMALINK

Someone did a poll about a year ago asking people if they think Obama is a US citizen. In the NE, MW, and W, the proportions saying "yes" were all 90-95%. In the S, "yes" was around 40%.

Around the same time there was a poll about evolution vs creationism. The results were very similar.

That's what people mean when they say the Republicans are a regional party. They have an overwhelming permanent majority in a region (actually, among white voters in a region, but never mind) that is permanently divorced from reality and loves it that way. Political loyalties in the rest of the country may move around, but they usually move around for good reasons. So, no, the Dems aren't a northeastern regional party. They're a national party that currently enjoys a large majority in the northeast and smaller majorities elsewhere, because a majority of voters in those regions want them in government. The Republicans are a regional party.

Posted by: Basilisc on August 12, 2010 at 3:52 PM | PERMALINK

Maybe if liberals stop bashing the south, and spend some time working on how to reclaim it, that would be more productive.

I live in Georgia, and my rep is John Lewis, who I think does a pretty good job of representing my moderate-left viewpoint. But my senators - oh my God..

I try registering opinions with our Senators occasionally on major issues, and usally the response I get back is boilerplate conservastupid talking points that assumes that if I wrote them, I must agree with them, or something.

You should see the latest e-mail I got from Johnny Isaakson - he was pushing BOTH the "new black panther" story, complaining about the justice department's handling of this "issue", and explaining why it was so important to continue the Bush tax cuts. It pretty much made me ill, especially when, as recently as the early 90s we had reasonable senators like Wyche Fowler.

My only hope is that our GOP governor candidate is so out there that we have a small chance of getting a Dem back...except the Dem that is running is the one who finally got rid of our racist flag - which is apparently one of the big reasons he was not re-elected.

Sigh...

Posted by: shoeflyin on August 12, 2010 at 4:03 PM | PERMALINK

As someone who has lived much of my life in New England and now am in Virginia, there is a HUGE difference in them. Up North people are happy to be intelligent and educated. Down here they think there is something wrong with you if you went to college and have an advanced degree. The usual is "just because you are book smart you don't know nothing". The south is happy in their ignorance.

Posted by: mishanti on August 12, 2010 at 4:04 PM | PERMALINK

OK, North East is a tiny region, Republicans are tied in the West (MoE), they are behind in the Mid West, but again we are talking about a high MoE. Also we are talking about polls, not facts, the Republicans are usually behind by all voters, Secondly 20% were cellphone only, that really skews it to 20% guaranteed liberal young or poor.

Posted by: Mike on August 12, 2010 at 4:06 PM | PERMALINK

A few questions:

1) So, the Northeast and the South balance each other out, leaving the West and the Midwest as battleground regions. How is this any different from previous election years in which Republicans have somehow managed to win a presidential election and/or majorities in Congress?

2) If you exclude results from California in "The West," what happens to generic ballot results in what remains of "The West?"

3) How have these regional generic ballot results changed in each election year since 2004?

4) Assuming the 21 percent gap holds in the South and produces regional partisan splits for the GOP similar to those Democrats produced after 2008 in the Northeast (specifically, no Republican representatives or Senators remaining in the region), what would such losses alone mean for the congressional majorities of Democrats, assuming Democrats don't lose seats anywhere else in the country?

Answers to these questions will help to set the data you present in this blog post in context.

Thanks.

Posted by: JB on August 12, 2010 at 4:09 PM | PERMALINK

This seems to be good evidence for a parliamentary system rather than our two-party system. So let the South have their Republican party, let the Democrats have their national party, let the Northeast, Midwest and West have un-Republicans.

The Republican party looks quite different in New England; it is almost makes sense on occasion (see Bloomberg recently on the Mosque.) In the Midwest, the Crazies are crowding out the old Ripon Republicans, but if they had their own southern party to caucus with, they could go off and do their crazy-thing, and the sane Republicans could go on trying to govern.

Personally, I am one of those who is really, really tired of the southern states effect on national politics. We could have a first-rate country if not for them.

Posted by: PTate in Mn on August 12, 2010 at 4:29 PM | PERMALINK

Let's say the US decided to split into two separate nations; one conservative and one liberal. And that each State would have a referendum to determine which new nation to join. IMO a significant majority of States would opt conservative. All of the South, most of the Plains states, OH, PA, IN, maybe WI. This would leave the liberals with the northeast, the west coast and a couple of outliers like MI, MN, IL, maybe NM and IA. I would love to see this happen; the one sure way to end the partisan hatred...and that's what it is now...HATRED.

Posted by: JohnR22 on August 12, 2010 at 4:34 PM | PERMALINK

Very disappointed in the graphic, Steve - especially so since you claim authorship of it.
To whit - the graphic is discussing the political parties. It is NOT the "Democrat" party. Sheesh.

Posted by: andy on August 12, 2010 at 5:22 PM | PERMALINK

kinda hard for the gop to have a "tsunami election" when the only part of the country where they hold the lead is the same part of the country where they have the majority of the seats....here in ohio, current thinking is the max gop pickup will be plus one and even that's questionable...

Posted by: dj spellchecka on August 12, 2010 at 6:03 PM | PERMALINK

The regional breakdown is irrelevant because their are no regional elections. What counts is who shows up to vote in individual states or congressional districts. Democrats tend to be concentrated in urban areas, especially on the coasts, and House Democrats in those areas basically can't lose an election. Example: Charles Rangel. However, winning by huge margins in a minority of districts for cities like New York City, Los Angeles, and Chicago doesn't lead to House and Senate majorities if you lose the rural areas and the suburbs. It takes geographic diversity to win the majority of seats.

Posted by: George B on August 12, 2010 at 6:29 PM | PERMALINK

I live in Texas, and it is infuriating to no end to see pickup trucks and SUVs with McCain/Palin bumper stickers STILL PROMINENTLY DISPLAYED! Some even have new stickers, in addition to the deteriorating old ones, denouncing "Obamacare" and the like.

And in 95% of establishments with televisions in them, you can be sure that they are tuned to FOX news. For more than a few of the folks around here, there is no other news channel. Period.

Talk radio is huge down here, too, and I ain't talking NPR...

Posted by: Ranger Jay on August 12, 2010 at 6:37 PM | PERMALINK

this is further proof that southern secession is an Effin' GREAT idea! Its win-win. The batshit violently insane psychopath republican/conservative nation of the criminally insane will be happy as pigs in sh*t blowing each others' brains out and the rest of us can go about the humongous task of repairing the massive damage done to America from 30 years of republican batshittery.

Posted by: Liberals for Southern Secession on August 12, 2010 at 7:34 PM | PERMALINK

Yahoo! The South will rise again! After it starts voting Democratic again.

Posted by: anomaly on August 12, 2010 at 9:32 PM | PERMALINK

A 21-point lead for Republicans is "HUGE".

A 25-point lead for Democrats is an "edge".

Posted by: Steve Simitzis on August 12, 2010 at 10:08 PM | PERMALINK

Maybe if liberals stop bashing the south, and spend some time working on how to reclaim it, that would be more productive.

Maybe liberals will stop bashing the South when the South stop bashing liberals. As far as reclaiming it, forget it. I live in Texas (native of California) and if you saw Rep. Louis Gohmert of Texas on CNN last night you know what I mean. Forget it.

Posted by: DB on August 13, 2010 at 8:51 AM | PERMALINK

JB,

1) So, the Northeast and the South balance each other...

No they don't. The Northeast is much larger in terms of population than the South.

2) If you exclude results from California in "The West"...

What???? Should we also exclude Texas from the South? Maybe we should exclude New York from the Northeast and Illinois from the Mid-west.

Posted by: DB on August 13, 2010 at 8:59 AM | PERMALINK

Well a 21% lead in the south is something a liberal dem could never surmount. However a 25% lead in the Northeast republicans can clearly overcome. Anybody see Massachusetts where the generic dem lead is something like 36%. Last I knew they elected a Scott Brown to the senate. 25% is barely an edge for Democrats when they hijack the country away to policies that many dems do not even support.

Posted by: Jim on August 13, 2010 at 9:26 AM | PERMALINK

Oh Yeah, for all you geniuses who claim the Northeast is som much larger, there are 152 congressional districts in the South, there are 92 in the Northeast, and that is only if you include Pennsylvania in the NE and not the Midwest. I am uncertain of what this poll did. They go back and forth. It appears though Pennsylvania is in the Midwest because it would explain the lack of balance most polls show in that region.

Posted by: Jim on August 13, 2010 at 9:36 AM | PERMALINK




 

 

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