Election analysis: shocking conclusions!

Has a way-cool map of how voting blocs work out below the state level. Texas isn’t a “solid red state”; it’s a combination of the culturally conservative/socailly liberal, majority Hispanic El Norto region in the south near the Rio Grande, the “Western” Montana-style Sagebrush area in the NW (Plano, Amarillo), and the culturally unreconstructed confederacy of the Southern Comfort region in the East (Houston, Waco).

The red-and-blue map didn’t change much from 2000 to 2004, but our 10 regions reveal some significant shifts. With 61.4 percent of its vote cast for Bush, Appalachia – which has the poorest and most rural population in the United States, and was a bedrock region for Democratic nominees from Andrew Jackson to Harry Truman – became the most Republican region in the country for the first time since at least 1976 (as far back as our county-level data go), and probably for the first time in American history. In almost all of the states in this region, Bush carried rural counties that haven’t voted Republican since the Nixon landslide of 1972, and even stuck with Walter Mondale over Ronald Reagan in 1984. Meanwhile, the most Republican region of 2000, the Gulf Coast-oriented Southern Comfort, was a close second this time (61.3 percent for Bush), and it was a key factor in keeping Florida in Bush’s column.
But the growing Republican strength in Appalachia and Southern Comfort obscures the fact that Southern Lowlands, which lies in between, remains closely divided between the two parties. While Bush once again won Southern Lowlands (with 51.5 percent of the vote), Kerry increased Democratic margins in many parts of the region: northern Virginia; most of the major cities of North Carolina; and not only Atlanta but two adjoining suburban counties. He also pulled the county that includes Savannah, Ga., into the Democratic column.

The next most Democratic region was Northeast Corridor, but it was hardly something for Kerry to brag about. It was here that Bush enjoyed his biggest surge in the popular vote percentages, turning a 62-35 loss into a less lopsided 59-40. Nationally, four of the five counties with the biggest GOP gains, in raw votes, were those that make up Long Island. Kings (Brooklyn), Queens, Nassau, and Suffolk counties all went for Kerry, but his margin there was more than 250,000 votes short of Gore’s in 2000. At the same time, Staten Island flipped from 57 percent for Gore to a 50 percent win for Bush, while New Jersey’s Ocean County (which has a high retiree population) went from a 49 percent plurality for Bush to a 60 percent landslide.