A new Gallup analysis of their 2008 polling data has found that not only has the electoral map shifted towards the Democratic Party, but also that states with a Republican advantage are becoming an endangered species. Only Utah, Wyoming, Alaska, Idaho, and Nebraska have more registered Republicans than Democrats.
Today’s results were the first in a four part series to be released on Gallup.com. Democrats now hold a voter registration advantage in 35 states, 10 states are considered up for grabs, and Republicans only have an advantage in the five abovementioned states. Four of the strongest of the Democratic states are not surprisingly, in New England (Rhode Island, Vermont, Connecticut, and Massachusetts). The rest are predictable Democratic strongholds (Illinois, New York, Delaware, Maryland, Hawaii, and the District of Columbia).
Twenty nine states were found to have a Democratic advantage of 10 or more points. What has to be troubling for the Republican Party is the possibility that the South is trending away from them. North Carolina, Arkansas, and Kentucky all have double digit Democratic voter affiliation advantages. However, John McCain won two of these three states in 2008, along with West Virginia which has a 19 point Democratic advantage.
It can be argued that in states like West Virginia and Kentucky race played a role in pushing white voters towards McCain. Believe it or not, by these numbers, McCain did well to win 22 states. Barack Obama deserves the credit for pushing this movement of voters towards the Democrats into hyper speed, but voters have been trending away from the Republican Party since 2004. Democrats traditionally have had an advantage in terms of party affiliation. Republicans were able to close the gap with a superior voter turnout operation. This changed in 2008 as the Obama machine turned out Democrats in massive numbers.
The lesson here for Republicans should be that can’t choose presidential nominees who appeal strictly to the party base. The base is not large enough for them to win a presidential election. Republicans need candidates that appeal to Independents and conservative Democrats. The problem is that the base that controls the nominating process favors evangelical hardliners like Sarah Palin and Mike Huckabee. Until Republicans move back to the middle, Democrats are going to continue winning elections.