Go to HHH home page.
Smart Politics
 


Obama Making Inroads in Deep Red States, Lagging in Reddish-Purple States

Bookmark and Share

In the 2004 presidential election, George W. Bush won 31 states while John Kerry won 19 plus the District of Columbia.

According to the most recent public opinion polls, Barack Obama is currently in a strong position to win all of the “Kerry states� and is running strong enough in a few “Bush states� (e.g. Iowa, New Mexico, Colorado, Virginia, Montana) as well as leading in the national polls to make him the favorite (at the moment) to win in November.

Of the 31 states Bush won in 2004, 22 were blowout victories by double-digit margins, while 9 were competitive contests decided by less than 10 points. In an interesting twist this election season, Obama is faring much better than Kerry did in the 22 deep red ‘blowout states,’ but faring poorer than Kerry in the reddish-purple ‘competitive Bush states.’

Here’s the evidence:

Non-partisan public opinion polls have been conducted in 18 of the 22 ‘deep red’ states during the past 3-4 weeks: Alaska, Alabama, Arizona, Georgia, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, and West Virginia (current polling is not available in Idaho, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Wyoming). (Note: a few of these states have a strong Democratic presence in state politics and even on Capitol Hill; they are labeled ‘deep-red’ for the purposes of discussion here in reference to Bush’s 2004 margin of victory).

In the most recent polls for each state, Obama is polling ahead of Bush’s 2004 margin of victory in 16 of the 18 states (the exceptions being Louisiana and Tennessee – although Obama is within a point in each of those states as well). Bush won these 18 deep red states by an average of 21.6 points in 2004, while Obama is currently polling at an average deficit of just 9.2 points. Obama even leads McCain in the most recent surveys of likely voters in Indiana and Montana.

There is, of course, a world of difference between what polls tell us in June and July, and what voters have to say in November. So Smart Politics also looked at the Bush-Kerry matchup polling in each of these states at the point closest in time to the respective June/July 2008 McCain-Obama polls.

How was Kerry performing in these deep red states at this time back in the summer of 2004?

Comparable polls were available in 15 of the 18 states (all but Mississippi, Nebraska, and Utah), and, at this time in 2004, Kerry was polling at an average deficit of 14.5 points across those states. This tells us a few things.

First, while Obama is polling noticeably better than Kerry in these deep red states (by 5 points on average), it is likely that McCain will eventually bolster his lead in these states come November, just as Bush did by about 7 points per state in 2004. (Although Kerry’s polling was primarily damaged by a specific incident – the Swift Boat controversy).

Second, this data per se does not demonstrate so much that that these deep red states are more enamored with Obama (whose voting record, after all, is even more liberal than Kerry’s), as it suggests they are less enthused with the once maverick Republican Senator from Arizona. Given Obama’s policy positions and voting record, the vast majority of undecided Republican voters will ultimately back McCain, even if they are not thrilled with his campaign to date.

Obama’s strong performance in these deep-red states does not translate, however, into momentum in the reddish-purple “competitive Bush states� – those states that the President won by single digits in 2004. Of these 9 states, Obama is polling ahead of where Kerry was sitting in 2004 in just two of them: Colorado (10 points better than Kerry) and Virginia (5 points better). Obama is even with Kerry’s position in 2004 in Iowa and is polling behind Kerry’s mark in Florida (by 12 points), Arkansas (by 10 points), Nevada (by 7 points), New Mexico (by 4 points), Ohio (by 4 points), and Missouri (by 3 points).

Back in the summer of 2004 Kerry was actually leading Bush in 6 of these 9 states, with an average advantage of 1.7 points. Kerry ultimately lost these states by an average of 4.6 points. Recent polls tell us Obama is currently leading McCain in 5 of these 9 states; the question is whether they will likewise slip away from the Democrats as they did in 2004?

Previous post: CSPG Report: The Third Party Impact in 2008
Next post: Smart Politics On "The Blog Bunker" Today

Leave a comment


Remains of the Data

Kevin McCarthy Becomes Least Tenured Floor Leader in US House History

At less than four terms, McCarthy has served 423 fewer days in the chamber than any floor leader in U.S. House history and almost 10 years less than the average leader.

Political Crumbs

The Second Time Around

Former Republican Congressman Bob Beauprez became the seventh major party or second place gubernatorial candidate in Colorado to get a second chance at the office when he narrowly won his party's nomination last month. Two of the previous six candidates were successful. Democrat Alva Adams lost his first gubernatorial bid to Benjamin Eaton in 1884, but was victorious two years later against William Meyer. Democrat Charles Johnson placed third in 1894 behind Republican Albert McIntyre and Populist incumbent Governor David Waite but returned as the Fusion (Democrat/Populist) nominee in 1898 and defeated GOPer Henry Wolcott. Gubernatorial candidates who received a second chance but lost both general elections include Democrat Thomas Patterson (1888, 1914), Progressive Edward Costigan (1912, 1914), Republican Donald Brotzman (1954, 1956), and Republican David Strickland (1978, 1986).


How Are the Plurality Winners Doing?

Nearly 40 percent of plurality winners of U.S. Senate elections lose their seat in the next election cycle. Will that happen to any of the three such incumbents on the ballot in 2014? Recent polling suggests Democrats Al Franken of Minnesota, Mark Begich of Alaska, and Jeff Merkley of Oregon all currently have an advantage over their nominated/frontrunning GOP opponents, but each is flirting with plurality support once again. Franken led endorsed GOPer Mike McFadden 48 to 42 percent in a new SurveyUSA poll while the polling group showed Merkley with a 50 to 32 percent advantage over Monica Wehby. Begich led each of the three major GOP candidates in last month's PPP survey: 42 to 37 percent over Daniel Sullivan, 41 to 33 percent over Mead Treadwell, and 43 to 27 percent over Joe Miller.


more POLITICAL CRUMBS

Humphrey School Sites
CSPG
Humphrey New Media Hub

Issues />

<div id=
Abortion
Afghanistan
Budget and taxes
Campaign finances
Crime and punishment
Economy and jobs
Education
Energy
Environment
Foreign affairs
Gender
Health
Housing
Ideology
Immigration
Iraq
Media
Military
Partisanship
Race and ethnicity
Reapportionment
Redistricting
Religion
Sexuality
Sports
Terrorism
Third parties
Transportation
Voting