Trading CO for WV

On Tuesday Sean Trende posted a piece on Real Clear Politics arguing that it’s not necessarily the political kiss of death if the GOP does not pass immigration reform.  The piece argues that African-American turnout will never hit the levels it hit in 2008 and 2012 and also that the GOP is gaining among white voters.  A big part of claim:

Here’s the trend line that should scare the pants off of Democrats: It shows the “PVI” of white voters. That is to say, it shows how the white population has voted in each election, relative to the country as a whole. So in a year like 1992, when Bill Clinton got 43 percent of the vote while winning 39 percent of the white vote, we show white voters as -4 percent. This is just a way of controlling for “national effects” like the economy so we can see the underlying trend:

It’s been in long-term decline, and the decline is accelerating; about a point-and-a-half toward Republicans per cycle since 1992. Now you may think this is a function of antipathy toward Barack Obama. But it has been on a similar tangent in Congress as well, also at a rate of about 1.5 points every four years:

This has had a profound effect on the electoral vote, and not necessarily in the Democrats’ favor. People like to focus on shifts in places like Nevada. The state is trendy, multicultural, and who doesn’t love visiting Las Vegas? It used to be a Republican stronghold. But over the past decade, its PVI has done this:

Six electoral votes and two Senate seats are clearly moving toward Democrats. But think of another state, West Virginia. It doesn’t get as much attention. Most people associate it with “Deliverance” (though that story was set in Georgia) and few East Coasters go there (unless they’re skiing or road-tripping from D.C. westward)…

The diversifying parts of the country have shifted toward Democrats, as has the Northeast. But far overlooked is the movement in the heavily white interior. This really does matter: It wasn’t that long ago that states like West Virginia, Kentucky, Tennessee, Arkansas, and Missouri were places where Democrats could win regularly at the local level, and be competitive at the presidential level.

One thing he doesn’t tell you that is states like Nevada, Colorado, and Virginia that have switched from Democrat to Republican or at least become competitive have gained electoral votes in the past 24 years.  West Virginia, Arkansas, Tennessee and Missouri have all either stayed the same or lost electoral votes since 1988.  The growth in Nevada, Colorado, and Virginia has been in more urban areas which tend to favor Democrats.

What this means from a business perspective is that the GOP is getting an increasingly bigger share in an increasingly shrinking market.  If that is your business model I recommend you get a new model or learn the phrase Chapter 11.

The problem for GOP candidates is finding a way to keep voters in states like Arkansas and Kentucky happy while also finding new ways to reach voters in these more Democratic leaning states.  Who do you think is up to the challenge?


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