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November 21, 2012

Post-Election State-by-State Trend Analysis (With Maps!)

One of the problems with pre-election war-gaming is that some simulations assume roughly uniform movement in all states based on previous elections and national polling. As you can see in the map below, this is clearly not the case. There are often regional trends, bounces for a candidate's home state, etc.

The first map below shows each state and the direction and intensity that the state moved from the 2008 election to the 2012 election.


As you can see, only five states moved in Obama's direction and there are explanations for each.

New Jersey and New York: This is probably the result of a Sandy bounce.

Louisiana and Mississippi: Unless there is a broader trend I'm missing, this is most likely not so much movement in 2012 but instead urban voters still displaced from Hurricane Katrina in 2008 that had finally returned home by this election. That could be wrong, but that's my guess.

Alaska: Sarah Palin bounce in 2008. Interestingly, Arizona did not see a similar crash in 2012.

The next map compares each state's 2012 change to the national trend of 4.4% movement towards the GOP. This will show whether a state underperformed or outperformed the popular vote movement.


As you might expect, the Northeast didn't show much movement towards the GOP. What's interesting is just how badly the Southeast underperformed the national trend in 2012. The knee-jerk takeaway is probably that Evangelicals were a bit underwhelmed by Mitt Romney.

The Southwest has been rumored to be the future graveyard of the GOP, but both New Mexico and Nevada outperformed the national trend. Arizona's lack of movement is probably more the result of a slight 2008 bounce for McCain than anything else. So, perhaps that conclusion is a little premature.

Those all-important swing states of Virginia, Florida, Ohio, Iowa and Colorado? All of them underperformed the national trend. I'm sure Obama's ad blitz, early voting push and microtargeting focus on these states had plenty to do with that.

Some good news: the Rust Belt (minus Ohio) seems to be moving in the GOP's direction as a region. Unfortunately, it wasn't quite fast enough for the 2012 election but Republicans would be smart to target this region more forcefully in upcoming elections.

Finally, the gut punch: See the five reddest states on that map? This indicates the strongest movement towards the GOP in 2012 and all five states went to Mitt Romney decisively. There were also Senate races in those five states. We lost four of them.

Update: It seems I didn't explain this well enough. First map shows movement in 2012 relative to 2008. So, for example:

South Carolina: 2008 - GOP by 8.9%, 2012 - GOP by 10.6%. So the trend is only 1.7% towards the GOP, hence light red.

Second map compares this 1.7% movement to the national popular trend of 4.4% towards the GOP. Hence, South Carolina underperformed the national trend. So, blue.

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posted by JohnE. at 02:48 PM

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