Swingers: The nation’s electorate at a glance (and introducing a new series)

I will now begin a series of data-driven discussions about the swing states.  What makes them swing, what are key things to watch on election night, and can we get a read on the likely future of those states in 2012 and beyond using demographic data and the results of previous elections?

Using data from the last three elections (chosen because 1992 and 1996 were fouled up by the presence of a strong third party candidate and prior to 1992, American demographics were very different than they are today), I have classified all fifty states in the union into five categories based on their political slant (the ratio of democrat to republican voters in those three elections combined, ignoring other candidates) – those categories look like this:

  1. VERY CONSERVATIVE (Slant < 40%)
  2. LEANS REPUBLICAN (Slant 40-47%)
  3. SWING STATE (Slant 47-53%)
  4. LEANS DEMOCRAT (Slant 53-60%)
  5. VERY LIBERAL (Slant > 60%)
Using those criterion, here are all fifty states, ranked by slant and classified:
  • Utah – 30.3
  • Wyoming – 30.8
  • Idaho – 32.6
  • Alaska – 34.6
  • Oklahoma – 35.7
  • Nebraska – 36.9
  • North Dakota – 39.2
  • Alabama – 39.4
  • Kansas – 39.6
  • Texas – 40.7
  • South Dakota – 41.2
  • Kentucky – 41.3
  • Mississippi – 41.7
  • Montana – 42.0
  • Louisiana – 43.0
  • South Carolina – 43.1
  • Arkansas – 43.9
  • Tennessee – 44.2
  • Indiana – 44.4
  • West Virginia – 44.4
  • Georgia – 44.6
  • Missouri – 45.1
  • Arizona – 45.6
  • North Carolina – 46.3
  • Virginia – 48.8
  • Florida – 49.5
  • Colorado – 49.7
  • Ohio – 49.9
  • Iowa – 51.6
  • Nevada – 51.7
  • New Hampshire – 51.8
  • Wisconsin – 52.6
  • New Mexico – 52.8
  • Minnesota – 52.9
  • Pennsylvania – 53.0
  • Michigan – 53.6
  • Oregon – 53.8
  • Washington – 55.3
  • Maine – 55.5
  • New Jersey – 56.4
  • Delaware – 58.0
  • California – 58.1
  • Illinois – 58.2
  • Connecticut – 58.6
  • Maryland – 59.5
  • Vermont – 61.9
  • New York – 62.0
  • Rhode Island – 63.3
  • Massachusetts – 63.5
  • Hawaii – 69.3
  • District of Columbia – 84.8
There are, therefore, 11 true swing states and 5 honorable mentions that are frequently listed as swing states by agencies like Gallup and news aggregation sites like RealClearPolitics.com.
I intend to move through each of the swing states and look county by county using the data I’ve collected over the last couple of months to get a feel for what to look out for when watching the result pour in for early voting and during the election night hubbub.  We’ll start with the 11 true swing states, working our way from west to east, and conclude with the honorable mentions.  The first post in this series will be tomorrow – when we’ll talk about Nevada, so stay tuned.
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4 thoughts on “Swingers: The nation’s electorate at a glance (and introducing a new series)

  1. har har…yuckidy yuck. 🙂

    In answer to your question, Steph, VA has two sources of swinginess – Federal Govt. and minority voters in NoVA, Richmond and Norfolk. we'll get to that in a week or two. 🙂

    Meanwhile, I'm working on the Nevada post tonight.

    Like

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