Saturday, August 2, 2008

Electoral Realignments

Paul Rosenberg has a post with electoral college maps from 1896 to 2004. The analysis isn't especially interesting, but it is useful to have all the maps on the same page, and they basically speak for themselves. The trouble with a lot of writing about realignments is that they ignore the distinction between the following processes: (1) party platforms or attitudes change, and voters gravitate to the party that they think represents their opinions (e.g. the South after 1964), (2) the demographics of a state change because of migration (e.g. retirees moving to Florida), (3) the population of a state changes because of immigration or poor birth control (e.g. Texas had eight electoral votes in 1876 vs. fifteen for Indiana, now it has 30-something vs. 10), (4) economic changes force a change of heart about things like welfare (e.g. Michigan and Ohio and the dying factories). 2-4 happen more or less together (though one of them is usually the dominant effect) but are quite different from 1. Kevin Phillips's "emerging Republican majority" was entirely a (1), whereas the current changes in the southwest and Virginia are mostly a (2).

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