Free Republic
Browse · Search
News/Activism
Topics · Post Article

Skip to comments.

The 10 Regions of US Politics [really nice bit of election results scholarship]
CommonWealth ^ | 12-11-03 | Robert David Sullivan

Posted on 12/11/2003 5:50:01 PM PST by GraniteStateConservative

The 10 Regions of US Politics

By Robert David Sullivan

Northeast Corridor
Southern Lowlands
Upper Coasts
The Farm Belt
Great Lakes
Appalachia
El Norte
Southern Comfort
Big River
Sagebrush

 

Northeast Corridor

Named after Amtrak's most (perhaps only) profitable route, Northeast Corridor begins in Connecticut's Fairfield County and stops in Montgomery County, Maryland, just short of the nation's capital. Northeast Corridor is dominated by New York City, which casts about one-fifth of its vote, but New Jersey is the only state that falls completely within the region. This is by far the most densely populated region, and over 96 percent of its residents live in urban areas. It is also the most affluent and the best-educated region, though its population growth rate has long been behind the national average.

Al Gore won 62 percent of the vote here in 2000, which was the best showing by a Democrat in any region since Lyndon Johnson was on the ballot four decades ago. But one-party dominance goes back only to 1996, when Bill Clinton won re-election. Before that, the suburban parts of the region (including most of New Jersey but also Long Island) often cancelled out the central cities, helping Gerald Ford, Ronald Reagan, and the first President Bush to win electoral votes here. In contrast, George W. Bush carried only 11 of the 48 counties in this region, showing strength only in areas that don't have much in the way of apartment complexes and strip malls -- yet. He lost Fairfield County, Long Island's Suffolk County, and the borough of Staten Island, all of which supported his father's losing campaign in 1992.

Historically, Northeast Corridor has been the base of the Republican Party's liberal wing, offering up such presidential nominees as Teddy Roosevelt and Tom Dewey. Until last year, it was represented at either end by two of the most liberal GOP members in the US House: Christopher Shays of Connecticut and Connie Morella of Maryland. The defeat of Morella in 2002, coming one year after the Republicans lost the New Jersey governor's seat vacated by Christine Todd Whitman, represented a low-water mark for the Nelson Rockefeller wing of the party.

Given its prominence in cultural and financial spheres, the Northeast Corridor has been embarrassingly weak in fielding presidential candidates in recent years. The last White House occupant from this region was Franklin Delano Roosevelt, and the last nominee was Dewey in 1948. More recently, New York City and its environs have specialized in political figures whose national campaigns have closed on opening night -- including Rockefeller himself, John Lindsay, Geraldine Ferraro, and Bill Bradley. The region's only candidate so far in the 2004 sweepstakes is the Rev. Al Sharpton, known more for his dramatic flair (and his pompadour) than his vote-getting power.

In Democratic presidential primaries, the region favors traditional liberals such as Ted Kennedy and Walter Mondale; it has been lukewarm toward Southerners such as Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton, no matter how forward-thinking.

Northeast Corridor--2000 presidential vote
 
Percentage
Rank among regions
National average
Gore
61.9%
1
48.4%
Bush
34.5%
10
47.9%
Nader
2.9%
4
2.7%

Northeast Corridor--Population change
 
Percentage
Rank among regions
National average
1990-2000
7.6%
9
13.2%
2000-2002
1.5%
7
2.5%

Northeast Corridor--Percentage urban
 
Rank among regions
National average
96.5%
1
79.0%

Northeast Corridor--Racial group
 
Percentage
Rank among regions
National average
Non-Hispanic white
61.3%
8
69.1%
Hispanic
13.5%
3
12.5%
Black
16.9%
2
12.1%
Asian
6.2%
3
3.6%
Other
2.1%
5
2.7%

Northeast Corridor--Annual income group
 
Percentage
Rank among regions
National average
Less than $25,000
25.1%
7
25.6%
$25,000 to $50,000
24.3%
9
26.2%
$50,000 to $75,000
19.7%
10
28.2%
$75,000 to $100,000
11.9%
1
9.1%
More than $100,000
19.0%
1
11.0%

Northeast Corridor--Age group
 
Percentage
Rank among regions
National average
Less than 18
24.8%
8
25.7%
18-35
23.4%
6
23.8%
35-50
23.7%
2
23.2%
50-65
15.3%
3
14.9%
Over 65
12.9%
5
12.4%

Northeast Corridor--Educational group
 
Percentage
Rank among regions
National average
No high school diploma
20.0%
5
19.6%
High school diploma
27.3%
7
28.6%
Some college
22.5%
10
27.4%
Bachelor's degree
17.8%
2
15.5%
Post-graduate degree
12.4%
1
8.9%

Upper Coasts

The communities in Upper Coasts are known for both civic responsibility and civil disobedience. This two-part region is anchored in the east by Boston and in the west by San Francisco, but both cities tilt decidedly to the left. They are also incubators for emerging industries, and Upper Coasts includes several high-tech centers: Boston's Route 128, California's Silicon Valley, and the Microsoft headquarters near Seattle. Upper Coasts is relatively affluent and well educated, but its high cost of living and sluggish population growth (it ranks last in the percentage of its residents who are under 18) make labor shortages a constant economic threat.

Upper Coasts is arguably more liberal than the Northeast Corridor, but it's less reliably Democratic, partly because it's fertile ground for third-party candidates of almost all stripes, including John Anderson and Ross Perot as well as Ralph Nader. Over the past couple of decades, independent candidates have captured governor's offices in Connecticut and Maine, and US senators from New Hampshire and Vermont have changed their affiliation to independent while in office.

The region is known for politicians who are liberal but offbeat - Vermont's socialist congressman, Bernie Sanders; outgoing San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown; and governor-turned-mayor Jerry Brown, now of Oakland - but most of its national figures have had starchy demeanors that call to mind New England's Puritan founders. Calvin Coolidge and Michael Dukakis had different partisan predilections, but neither could be called the life of any party. The Western section of Upper Coasts seems a bit less buttoned-up, though it's notable that raucous San Francisco's most successful politician of recent years is the businesslike US Sen. Dianne Feinstein.

Upper Coasts has three entrants in the 2004 presidential election: Howard Dean and John Kerry, both known for a certain testiness; and Joseph Lieberman, whose denunciation of President Bill Clinton's sexual indiscretions got him tagged as the Democratic Party's moral conscience (or scold, depending on your point of view).

In Democratic primaries, the region prefers reformers and environmentalists as candidates, but not necessarily those who advocate bigger government. Gary Hart handily beat Walter Mondale here in 1984, and it was Clinton's weakest region in 1992 against Paul Tsongas and Jerry Brown. This was also John McCain's strongest region in the 2000 GOP presidential primaries. After trouncing George W. Bush in New Hampshire, McCain went on to win primaries in Connecticut, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Vermont; he also carried most Upper Coast counties (and little else) in the California GOP primary.

Upper Coasts--2000 presidential vote
 
Percentage
Rank among regions
National average
Gore
57.5%
2
48.4%
Bush
35.8%
9
47.9%
Nader
5.6%
1
2.7%

Upper Coasts--Population change
 
Percentage
Rank among regions
National average
1990-2000
10.0%
6
13.2%
2000-2002
1.9%
6
2.5%

Upper Coasts--Percentage urban
 
Rank among regions
National average
85.1%
4
79.0%

Upper Coasts--Racial group
 
Percentage
Rank among regions
National average
Non-Hispanic white
78.5%
4
69.1%
Hispanic
7.4%
6
12.5%
Black
5.0%
9
12.1%
Asian
6.4%
2
3.6%
Other
2.8%
3
2.7%

Upper Coasts--Annual income group
 
Percentage
Rank among regions
National average
Less than $25,000
22.1%
9
25.6%
$25,000 to $50,000
24.8%
8
26.2%
$50,000 to $75,000
26.5%
6
28.2%
$75,000 to $100,000
11.5%
2
9.1%
More than $100,000
15.2%
2
11.0%

Upper Coasts--Age group
 
Percentage
Rank among regions
National average
Less than 18
24.0%
10
25.7%
18-35
23.6%
5
23.8%
35-50
24.4%
1
23.2%
50-65
15.4%
2
14.9%
Over 65
12.6%
7
12.4%

Upper Coasts--Educational group
 
Percentage
Rank among regions
National average
No high school diploma
15.0%
10
19.6%
High school diploma
25.6%
9
28.6%
Some college
28.4%
3
27.4%
Bachelor's degree
19.2%
1
15.5%
Post-graduate degree
11.9%
2
8.9%

Great Lakes

The Great Lakes region takes in most of the major metropolitan areas along those bodies of water, including Chicago, Milwaukee, Detroit, Cleveland, and Buffalo. It also dips into Pennsylvania to include the city of Pittsburgh. This is the slowest-growing region in the country, a fact that has put several members of Congress in jeopardy over the years. One example is David Bonior, the Democratic whip and a 26-year member of the House, whose suburban Detroit district was eliminated by redistricting in 2002. While the region's biggest city, Chicago, has been relatively stable in population, sharp declines in Buffalo, Cleveland, and Detroit mean that this region has spread out over the past two or three decades. Fortunately for the Democrats, the big suburban counties in Great Lakes have been trending their way.

The best-known politicians from the Great Lakes tend to be powerful players in Congress rather than popular presidential candidates. Bonior may be gone, but the Great Lakes section of Michigan still boasts the most senior member of the House (John Dingell, elected in 1955) and the most senior African-American member (John Conyers, elected in 1964). There are plenty of longtime GOP members, too, including anti-abortion leader Henry Hyde and anti-tax leader Phil Crane, both of Illinois - and both strong vote-getters even though their districts are no longer overwhelmingly Republican in presidential races.

In terms of presidential politics, the best-known figure from the Great Lakes during the past 40 years has probably been Chicago Mayor Richard Daley, a kingmaker (think JFK) who never ran for national office but achieved notoriety by presiding over the disastrous Democratic Convention of 1968. There are two Democrats from the region running for president this time around, both of whom are trying to restore once-impressive political reputations: former US Sen. Carol Mosley-Braun of Illinois and US Rep. (and former Cleveland mayor) Dennis Kucinich of Ohio. Perhaps this is appropriate for a region that includes Detroit, with its Renaissance Center, and several other cities trying to make a comeback.

Democratic primary voters in the Great Lakes tend to be friendlier toward moderate Southerners, such as Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton, than are the Northeast Corridor and Upper Coasts. In 1980, Ted Kennedy lost the region to Carter, and in 1992, Paul Tsongas and Jerry Brown failed to get enough votes in suburban counties to overcome Clinton's advantages in the central cities.

Great Lakes--2000 presidential vote
 
Percentage
Rank among regions
National average
Gore
56.0%
3
48.4%
Bush
40.7%
8
47.9%
Nader
2.6%
6
2.7%

Great Lakes--Population change
 
Percentage
Rank among regions
National average
1990-2000
4.3%
10
13.2%
2000-2002
0.7%
10
2.5%

Great Lakes--Percentage urban
 
Rank among regions
National average
87.4%
3
79.0%

Great Lakes--Racial group
 
Percentage
Rank among regions
National average
Non-Hispanic white
75.3%
5
69.1%
Hispanic
6.4%
7
12.5%
Black
14.3%
3
12.1%
Asian
2.6%
5
3.6%
Other
1.4%
9
2.7%

Great Lakes--Annual income group
 
Percentage
Rank among regions
National average
Less than $25,000
25.3%
6
25.6%
$25,000 to $50,000
26.3%
5
26.2%
$50,000 to $75,000
25.9%
7
28.2%
$75,000 to $100,000
10.3%
3
9.1%
More than $100,000
12.2%
3
11.0%

Great Lakes--Age group
 
Percentage
Rank among regions
National average
Less than 18
25.7%
5
25.7%
18-35
23.2%
9
23.8%
35-50
23.3%
3
23.2%
50-65
14.8%
7
14.9%
Over 65
13.0%
3
12.4%

Great Lakes--Educational group
 
Percentage
Rank among regions
National average
No high school diploma
17.7%
7
19.6%
High school diploma
30.1%
4
28.6%
Some college
27.3%
7
27.4%
Bachelor's degree
15.5%
5
15.5%
Post-graduate degree
9.4%
4
8.9%

El Norte

El Norte is the newest of our 10 regions, in the sense that it couldn't have been a coherent area a decade or two ago. As the name suggests, it is the most Hispanic (and, conversely, the least "white anglo") of the regions. It also ranks first in the percentage of its population between the ages of 18 and 35, suggesting that a lot of careers are being started here. The region starts in San Jose, California, heads south toward Mexico, then hugs the border all the way to Brownsville, Texas and the Gulf of Mexico - with tentacles reaching up to include Albuquerque and Denver. El Norte also includes Miami and the southern tip of Florida, scene to much chaos as the votes were counted after the 2000 presidential election. While the rest of Florida has become more conservative and more Republican since Jimmy Carter was elected president in 1976, this part of Florida has become more Democratic. Both recent immigrants from Latin America and newer migrants from northern US states seem somewhat more liberal, at least in presidential elections, than the Cuban-Americans who moved to Miami in the 1960s and the more affluent "snow birds" who populated Fort Lauderdale at about the same time - making for a political evolution similar to what is occurring in California's Orange County.

This region is at something of a disadvantage politically in that most of its inhabitants are spread across three states - California, Florida, and Texas - that are so big that no one region can dominate them. As a result, El Norte can't claim as its own many governors or US senators, which are elected on a state-by-state basis rather than on population strength. The region does approach dominance in New Mexico (which now has the only Hispanic governor, Bill Richardson), as well as Hawaii (which is mostly Asian-American rather than Hispanic). But so far, El Norte hasn't swung many elections in Arizona, Colorado, or Nevada.

One watershed moment for El Norte came in 1996, when California Democrat Loretta Sanchez ousted Republican US Rep. Robert Dornan from a district in the heart of Orange County, a locale that was once synonymous with American conservatism. (Six years later, her sister, Linda Sanchez, won a Los Angeles County seat that includes Whittier, the hometown of Richard Nixon.) Loretta Sanchez is not quite as reliably liberal as the Latino representatives from Northeast Corridor, reflecting an apparent wariness among El Norte voters toward knee-jerk partisanship. Ties to the Democratic Party are even weaker in parts of Texas, where one mostly Latino district sends a conservative Republican, Henry Bonilla, to Congress; and in Florida, where the older, more conservative immigrant population is still strong enough to elect two Cuban-American Republicans from Miami-based districts.

In Democratic primaries, economic liberals such as Ted Kennedy do well in El Norte, and the region was also enormously helpful to Spanish-speaking Michael Dukakis over Al Gore and Jesse Jackson in 1988, helping him to win primaries in Florida and Texas and caucuses in Arizona and Colorado.

El Norte--2000 presidential vote
 
Percentage
Rank among regions
National average
Gore
54.8%
4
48.4%
Bush
41.1%
7
47.9%
Nader
3.1%
3
2.7%

El Norte--Population change
 
Percentage
Rank among regions
National average
1990-2000
17.3%
3
13.2%
2000-2002
3.5%
3
2.5%

El Norte--Percentage urban
 
Rank among regions
National average
95.1%
2
79.0%

El Norte--Racial group
 
Percentage
Rank among regions
National average
Non-Hispanic white
47.5%
10
69.1%
Hispanic
32.8%
1
12.5%
Black
6.1%
8
12.1%
Asian
9.9%
1
3.6%
Other
3.7%
1
2.7%

El Norte--Annual income group
 
Percentage
Rank among regions
National average
Less than $25,000
21.8%
10
25.6%
$25,000 to $50,000
22.0%
10
26.2%
$50,000 to $75,000
36.0%
1
28.2%
$75,000 to $100,000
8.3%
6
9.1%
More than $100,000
11.9%
4
11.0%

El Norte--Age group
 
Percentage
Rank among regions
National average
Less than 18
26.9%
2
25.7%
18-35
25.5%
1
23.8%
35-50
22.7%
8
23.2%
50-65
13.7%
10
14.9%
Over 65
11.3%
10
12.4%

El Norte--Educational group
 
Percentage
Rank among regions
National average
No high school diploma
23.8%
1
19.6%
High school diploma
21.6%
10
28.6%
Some college
28.6%
2
27.4%
Bachelor's degree
16.5%
3
15.5%
Post-graduate degree
9.4%
3
8.9%

Big River

The Mississippi River still evokes images of Mark Twain characters and riverboat gamblers (who are now legally permitted to play in Illinois, Iowa, and Missouri, thanks to the recent proliferation of gaming laws). The Big River region, which follows the Mississippi from Duluth to Memphis, also includes such touchstones of nostalgia as Harry Truman's birthplace in Independence, Missouri, and the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville. Even the newer tourist attractions in this region -- such as the St. Louis Gateway Arch, completed in 1965 - seem to belong to another age.

The Big River region is near the national average on many demographic scales. It has unusually low numbers of both high-school dropouts and post-graduate degree holders. But the region is not exactly a harbinger of the future; it has low population growth and it's the least Latino of all 10 regions.

Still, Big River has probably produced more candidates for national office than any other region, including presidents Truman and Clinton; vice-presidents Hubert Humphrey, Walter Mondale, and Al Gore; and presidential aspirants Eugene McCarthy, Paul Simon, and Tom Harkin. This list is all Democratic, unless you add John Anderson (who bolted the GOP to become an independent in the middle of his presidential run) and Ronald Reagan (who was born here but moved to California as a young man). Despite this one-sidedness, Big River has been the most closely contested region in presidential politics over the past 30 years, and the only one never to give either party more than 55 percent during this period. One reason may be that most Democrats (and certainly most independents and Republicans) here are more conservative than the national Democratic Party. The anti-abortion movement is especially strong in Big River, and some notable skinflints have come out of the Democratic Party in this region - notably US Senator William Proxmire of Wisconsin, who served from 1957 through 1989 and became famous for giving out his Golden Fleece awards for wasteful government spending.

Indeed, it's fairly common for Democrats considered way left of center in Big River to run into trouble with liberals in other regions when they run for president. Humphrey, Mondale, Clinton, and Gore all had trouble in college towns and tony suburbs when they ran in Democratic primaries. The two 2004 candidates from the region, Richard Gephardt and Wesley Clark, are hoping not to be tagged with the "not liberal enough" label.

In past Democratic primaries, Carter, Mondale, and Clinton won here overwhelmingly. Dukakis was far less popular, losing primaries and caucuses here to a range of candidates including Gephardt, Gore, and Simon.

Big River--2000 presidential vote
 
Percentage
Rank among regions
National average
Gore
48.7%
5
48.4%
Bush
47.5%
6
47.9%
Nader
2.9%
5
2.7%

Big River--Population change
 
Percentage
Rank among regions
National average
1990-2000
8.8%
7
13.2%
2000-2002
1.2%
9
2.5%

Big River--Percentage urban
 
Rank among regions
National average
68.1%
8
79.0%

Big River--Racial group
 
Percentage
Rank among regions
National average
Non-Hispanic white
86.3%
2
69.1%
Hispanic
2.1%
10
12.5%
Black
8.9%
6
12.1%
Asian
1.4%
8
3.6%
Other
1.3%
10
2.7%

Big River--Annual income group
 
Percentage
Rank among regions
National average
Less than $25,000
25.8%
5
25.6%
$25,000 to $50,000
28.1%
3
26.2%
$50,000 to $75,000
28.8%
4
28.2%
$75,000 to $100,000
8.9%
5
9.1%
More than $100,000
8.5%
8
11.0%

Big River--Age group
 
Percentage
Rank among regions
National average
Less than 18
25.4%
6
25.7%
18-35
23.2%
8
23.8%
35-50
23.3%
4
23.2%
50-65
15.0%
4
14.9%
Over 65
13.1%
2
12.4%

Big River--Educational group
 
Percentage
Rank among regions
National average
No high school diploma
16.6%
8
19.6%
High school diploma
32.7%
3
28.6%
Some college
28.4%
4
27.4%
Bachelor's degree
14.9%
7
15.5%
Post-graduate degree
7.4%
8
8.9%

Southern Lowlands

The Southern Lowlands region is notable for having some of the most bizarrely shaped congressional districts in the country, many of them drawn to produce majority-black constituencies that favor Democrats (a process that simultaneously creates overwhelmingly white districts, to the benefit of the Republican Party). Southern Lowlands has the largest percentage of African-Americans among our 10 regions, and thus it includes some of the most Democratic counties in the United States. But these counties are scattered across nine states, and in almost every state they are outvoted by some of the most Republican counties in the US. In contrast to Northeast Corridor and Great Lakes, which are more uniform in their allocation of votes, urban and suburban areas still produce strongly different results here, with the latter giving the GOP an advantage overall.

The region begins in Prince George's County, Maryland, and ends on the banks of the Mississippi River in Louisiana. It includes many of the touchstones of the civil rights movement, from Atlanta, which touted itself as "the city too busy to hate," to Selma, Alabama, where the local police became infamous for beating up peaceful protesters. Once known for abject poverty, the Southern Lowlands region is now near the middle of the pack in terms of income and education, and it boasts healthy population growth. Its increasingly white-collar electorate is typified by Charlotte, now a major banking center.

Politically, Southern Lowlands has moved toward the GOP in recent years, but it's still a swing region overall. US Senate seats in Georgia and North Carolina have constantly changed parties repeatedly over the years, though the Republicans have won the most recent contests. Democrats take solace in their capture of governor's mansions in Louisiana and Virginia since George W. Bush took office.

For decades, Southern Lowlands was represented nationally by segregationists such as George Wallace. Then, in 1976, former Georgia governor Jimmy Carter was elected president as a representative of the "New South." Carter received overwhelming support from his home region the first time he ran, but this loyalty mostly vanished when he tried to win re-election against Ronald Reagan. Carter's biracial coalition has been difficult to replicate, but that hasn't stopped North Carolina's John Edwards from trying to do it this time around.

In Democratic primaries, this was Jesse Jackson's strongest region in 1984 and 1988, partly because so many white voters no longer participate in Democratic Party politics at all.

Southern Lowlands--2000 presidential vote
 
Percentage
Rank among regions
National average
Gore
48.5%
6
48.4%
Bush
49.4%
5
47.9%
Nader
1.2%
10
2.7%

Southern Lowlands--Population change
 
Percentage
Rank among regions
National average
1990-2000
16.6%
4
13.2%
2000-2002
2.8%
4
2.5%

Southern Lowlands--Percentage urban
 
Rank among regions
National average
74.9%
7
79.0%

Southern Lowlands--Racial group
 
Percentage
Rank among regions
National average
Non-Hispanic white
60.1%
9
69.1%
Hispanic
8.6%
5
12.5%
Black
27.6%
1
12.1%
Asian
2.1%
7
3.6%
Other
1.6%
7
2.7%

Southern Lowlands--Annual income group
 
Percentage
Rank among regions
National average
Less than $25,000
25.9%
4
25.6%
$25,000 to $50,000
25.0%
7
26.2%
$50,000 to $75,000
31.6%
3
28.2%
$75,000 to $100,000
8.0%
8
9.1%
More than $100,000
9.5%
5
11.0%

Southern Lowlands--Age group
 
Percentage
Rank among regions
National average
Less than 18
25.3%
8
25.7%
18-35
24.9%
2
23.8%
35-50
23.2%
6
23.2%
50-65
14.8%
7
14.9%
Over 65
11.6%
8
12.4%

Southern Lowlands--Educational group
 
Percentage
Rank among regions
National average
No high school diploma
21.2%
3
19.6%
High school diploma
27.6%
6
28.6%
Some college
26.6%
8
27.4%
Bachelor's degree
15.5%
4
15.5%
Post-graduate degree
9.1%
5
8.9%

The Farm Belt

Hometown boosterism and community standards are important in the Farm Belt. This region begins in Canton, Ohio, home of the Pro Football Hall of Fame, and includes the city of Cincinnati, notable for bringing obscenity charges against pornographer Larry Flynt and artsy erotic photographer Robert Mapplethorpe. In the west, it extends to Dodge City, Kansas, where Marshall Dillon enforced the law every week on TV's Gunsmoke, and Walnut Grove, Minnesota, the setting for the gentle western series Little House on the Prairie.

This is the whitest of our 10 regions, with a population 6 percent black and less than 3 percent Hispanic, and also one of the poorest. It ranks first in the number of households making only $25,000 to $50,000 per year, and it's first in the number of adults who have finished high school but have gone no further in their education. It is the only Republican region with lower-than-average population growth.

And the Farm Belt has been solidly Republican for longer than any other region. It was the childhood home of GOP presidents William McKinley, William Taft, Warren Harding, and Dwight Eisenhower. In 1976, both men on the Republican national ticket were from the Farm Belt - Gerald Ford, from the furniture-producing city of Grand Rapids, Michigan; and Robert Dole, from the small town of Russell, Kansas. More recently, it has been surpassed by Southern Comfort as the leading source of Republican presidential candidates. This shift in power is also apparent in Congress, where Trent Lott, from Southern Comfort, replaced Dole as Senate majority leader. (Lott, of course, later resigned his leadership post for making "Old South" comments.)

The Farm Belt has no dogs at all in the 2004 presidential fight. South Dakota's Tom Daschle, the Democratic leader in the Senate, considered a run, but perhaps he was scared off by the poor performance of another Farm Belt Democrat, Nebraska's Bob Kerrey, in 1992.

In Democratic primaries, the Farm Belt showed a slight preference for Hart over Mondale in 1984. Southerners Carter and Clinton won here more easily.

Farm Belt--2000 presidential vote
 
Percentage
Rank among regions
National average
Gore
40.1%
7
48.4%
Bush
56.7%
4
47.9%
Nader
2.1%
7
2.7%

Farm Belt--Population change
 
Percentage
Rank among regions
National average
1990-2000
8.6%
8
13.2%
2000-2002
1.2%
8
2.5%

Farm Belt--Percentage urban
 
Rank among regions
National average
67.5%
9
79.0%

Farm Belt--Racial group
 
Percentage
Rank among regions
National average
Non-Hispanic white
88.2%
1
69.1%
Hispanic
2.7%
8
12.5%
Black
6.4%
7
12.1%
Asian
1.1%
9
3.6%
Other
1.6%
7
2.7%

Farm Belt--Annual income group
 
Percentage
Rank among regions
National average
Less than $25,000
28.8%
2
25.6%
$25,000 to $50,000
31.8%
1
26.2%
$50,000 to $75,000
20.7%
9
28.2%
$75,000 to $100,000
9.7%
4
9.1%
More than $100,000
9.1%
7
11.0%

Farm Belt--Age group
 
Percentage
Rank among regions
National average
Less than 18
25.9%
3
25.7%
18-35
23.3%
6
23.8%
35-50
23.0%
7
23.2%
50-65
14.9%
6
14.9%
Over 65
12.9%
4
12.4%

Farm Belt--Educational group
 
Percentage
Rank among regions
National average
No high school diploma
16.5%
9
19.6%
High school diploma
34.4%
1
28.6%
Some college
27.8%
6
27.4%
Bachelor's degree
13.9%
9
15.5%
Post-graduate degree
7.3%
8
8.9%

Appalachia

Democratic consultant James Carville once described Pennsylvania as consisting of Philadelphia in the east, Pittsburgh in the west, and "Alabama in the middle." That sentiment is reflected in the outlines of the Appalachia region, which follows the mountain range across 12 states. It is the only region in our survey that doesn't touch an ocean or a Great Lake, and it is the most rural. It is also the oldest, poorest, and least educated. But the region keeps pace with the national average in terms of population growth, and it shows signs of economic progress.

Politically, the region has changed fairly rapidly. The old Appalachia is personified by Robert Byrd, the Democratic senator from West Virginia, who is famous for funneling federal money to his state. Even Republicans from this region were once known for bringing home the bacon, an example being former US Rep. Bud Shuster of Pennsylvania, once the powerful chairman of the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. More recently, the region's center of gravity has shifted south, and it is better known for prickly conservatives such as former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, of northern Georgia, and US Sen. Lindsay Graham of South Carolina (who, as a House member, was part of a group that wanted to overthrow Gingrich because he wasn't true enough to conservative principles). Other than Byrd, the most prominent Democrat currently from Appalachia may be Georgia Sen. Zell Miller, who has announced his retirement and recently wrote a book denouncing his party for moving too far to the left. One of the last upholders of old-fashioned Democratic politics may be Alabama Congressman Bud Cramer, who votes with his party on most spending issues but defects to the Republicans on just about everything else. His district, centered on the city of Huntsville, benefited mightily from the Tennessee Valley Authority in the 1930s and was once solidly Democratic; now its economy is based on defense spending and the federal space program, and its increasingly white-collar workforce has a strong preference for the Republican Party.

Few presidential aspirants have come from Appalachia; the last one of any consequence was Republican Lamar Alexander of Tennessee, who incorporated his cherished bluegrass music into his campaign. In Democratic primaries, the region follows its conservatism on social issues and national defense, but often finds little to choose from among the increasingly liberal candidates, so turnout tends to be low. Carter did carry it overwhelmingly in 1976 and 1980, and it was Gore's strongest region against Dukakis and Jackson in 1988. Clinton won here easily against token opposition in 1992, but there was a noticeably high number of "uncommitted" votes in parts of the region.

Appalachia--2000 presidential vote
 
Percentage
Rank among regions
National average
Gore
39.7%
8
48.4%
Bush
57.8%
2
47.9%
Nader
1.4%
9
2.7%

Appalachia--Population change
 
Percentage
Rank among regions
National average
1990-2000
13.8%
5
13.2%
2000-2002
2.4%
5
2.5%

Appalachia--Percentage urban
 
Rank among regions
National average
55.4%
10
79.0%

Appalachia--Racial group
 
Percentage
Rank among regions
National average
Non-Hispanic white
85.7%
3
69.1%
Hispanic
2.4%
9
12.5%
Black
10.0%
5
12.1%
Asian
1.0%
10
3.6%
Other
1.0%
10
2.7%

Appalachia--Annual income group
 
Percentage
Rank among regions
National average
Less than $25,000
30.7%
1
25.6%
$25,000 to $50,000
28.8%
2
26.2%
$50,000 to $75,000
24.7%
8
28.2%
$75,000 to $100,000
7.9%
9
9.1%
More than $100,000
7.9%
10
11.0%

Appalachia--Age group
 
Percentage
Rank among regions
National average
Less than 18
24.3%
9
25.7%
18-35
22.9%
10
23.8%
35-50
23.2%
5
23.2%
50-65
16.2%
1
14.9%
Over 65
13.3%
1
12.4%

Appalachia--Educational group
 
Percentage
Rank among regions
National average
No high school diploma
23.4%
2
19.6%
High school diploma
34.3%
2
28.6%
Some college
23.5%
9
27.4%
Bachelor's degree
12.2%
10
15.5%
Post-graduate degree
6.6%
10
8.9%

Southern Comfort

Currently the most Republican region in the country, Southern Comfort follows the Gulf Coast from Fort Myers, Florida, west to Houston. From Texas, it reaches as far north as Branson, Missouri, a family-oriented entertainment resort that attracts more visitors than Broadway. This is the second fastest growing of all 10 regions, but it's pretty close to the national average in terms of income and education. Religious conservatives are especially influential here; some of Pat Robertson's highest vote totals in the 1988 Republican primaries came from Southern Comfort.

Southern Comfort probably couldn't have existed as a separate region a few decades ago. In the 1950s, its most prominent political figures would have been Senate Majority Leader Lyndon Johnson and House Speaker Sam Rayburn, both Democrats from Texas, but that was when this region was still indistinguishable from the "Solid South" dominated by the Democratic Party. Since then, both native conservatives and "snow birds" moving here from northern states have completely transformed the region. More recent political notables from Southern Comfort, all Republicans, include Tom DeLay of Texas, the majority leader in the US House; senator and former majority leader Trent Lott of Mississippi; former senator Phil Gramm of Texas (who switched from the Democratic Party after Reagan swept this region); and US Rep. Katherine Harris of Florida, who, as secretary of state, certified George W. Bush's 537-vote win there in 2000.

Of course, the Bush family provides the most prominent figures from Southern Comfort: former president George H.W. Bush, who represented Houston in Congress for part of the 1960s; current President George W. Bush, who served as governor of Texas for six years; and Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, who had been touted as a potential presidential candidate in the event that "W" didn't work out.

In Democratic primaries, voters in Southern Comfort generally support the most conservative of the viable candidates - which, in the past, has always been a Southerner like Carter or Clinton. But will Joe Lieberman of Connecticut, the most conservative Democrat in 2004, find fertile ground in Oklahoma?

Southern Comfort--2000 presidential vote
 
Percentage
Rank among regions
National average
Gore
38.8%
9
48.4%
Bush
58.5%
1
47.9%
Nader
1.8%
8
2.7%

Southern Comfort--Population change
 
Percentage
Rank among regions
National average
1990-2000
20.9%
2
13.2%
2000-2002
4.0%
2
2.5%

Southern Comfort--Percentage urban
 
Rank among regions
National average
77.6%
6
79.0%

Southern Comfort--Racial group
 
Percentage
Rank among regions
National average
Non-Hispanic white
70.7%
7
69.1%
Hispanic
12.2%
4
12.5%
Black
12.3%
4
12.1%
Asian
2.3%
6
3.6%
Other
2.5%
4
2.7%

Southern Comfort--Annual income group
 
Percentage
Rank among regions
National average
Less than $25,000
27.1%
3
25.6%
$25,000 to $50,000
27.2%
4
26.2%
$50,000 to $75,000
28.8%
5
28.2%
$75,000 to $100,000
7.9%
10
9.1%
More than $100,000
9.1%
6
11.0%

Southern Comfort--Age group
 
Percentage
Rank among regions
National average
Less than 18
25.9%
4
25.7%
18-35
24.0%
3
23.8%
35-50
22.6%
10
23.2%
50-65
14.8%
8
14.9%
Over 65
12.8%
6
12.4%

Southern Comfort--Educational group
 
Percentage
Rank among regions
National average
No high school diploma
21.1%
4
19.6%
High school diploma
28.4%
5
28.6%
Some college
28.2%
5
27.4%
Bachelor's degree
14.9%
6
15.5%
Post-graduate degree
7.5%
6
8.9%

Sagebrush

Occupying about half the land area of the United States, the Sagebrush region includes all or part of 17 states -- all of them a long way from Washington, DC. Most are in the west, but the region also includes like-minded parts of New Hampshire and Maine. The former is known as a libertarian stronghold (so much so that a national anti-government group called the Free State Project is trying to get its members to settle there and take over local politics); the latter distinguished itself as Ross Perot's strongest state in 1992.

This region is named after the Sagebrush Rebellion of the late 1970s, which centered on the resentment of western states toward regulations (particularly of the environmental variety) imposed by the federal bureaucracy. The Sagebrush Rebellion helped to flip nearly a dozen US Senate seats from the Democrats to the Republicans between 1976 and 1980, an advantage that has helped the GOP hold that chamber for most of the time since.

Surprisingly, the Sagebrush region is not among the most rural in the US. It is the fastest growing region, and though its wide-open spaces undoubtedly attract newcomers, most of them settle in booming cities such as Phoenix and Colorado Springs. It ranks first in the number of residents who are under 18, and first in the number of adults who have attended college but not obtained a bachelor's degree. In 2000, it was Gore's worst region, but only third best for Bush; in presidential races, Sagebrush customarily delivers the most votes to minor candidates, from Greens to Libertarians.

The patron political saint of Sagebrush is Arizona's Barry Goldwater, whose campaign against Big Government in 1964 was a launching point for the modern conservative movement, and, thus, the modern Republican Party. Though Ronald Reagan has never been a long-term resident of what we now call Sagebrush, he exemplified the region's mindset when he took the presidency in 1980.

More recently, Sagebrush has had to compete with Southern Comfort for the soul of the Republican Party. One difference between the two regions is that Sagebrush seems more ambivalent toward religious conservatism. Goldwater himself expressed disdain for Jerry Falwell and the Moral Majority during his last Senate term, and another senator from Arizona, John McCain, pretty much burned his bridges to fundamentalist groups during his 2000 presidential run. Vice President Dick Cheney, who once represented Wyoming in the US House, is a forceful voice for conservatism on fiscal and foreign-policy issues but seems less enthusiastic about advocating fundamentalist views on gay rights and other cultural issues. Yet the region is still represented by many Republicans in the moralist wing of the party, including Utah Sen. Orrin Hatch, a leader of the anti-abortion movement, and Colorado Rep. Marilyn Musgrave, the driving force behind a constitutional amendment to ban gay marriages.

Even in Democratic primaries, voters prefer candidates with more libertarian views (liberal on social issues, conservative on fiscal issues). It was Gary Hart's strongest region against Walter Mondale in 1984.

Sagebrush--2000 presidential vote
 
Percentage
Rank among regions
National average
Gore
37.5%
10
48.4%
Bush
57.4%
3
47.9%
Nader
3.7%
2
2.7%

Sagebrush--Population change
 
Percentage
Rank among regions
National average
1990-2000
23.1%
1
13.2%
2000-2002
4.6%
1
2.5%

Sagebrush--Percentage urban
 
Rank among regions
National average
78.8%
5
79.0%

Sagebrush--Racial group
 
Percentage
Rank among regions
National average
Non-Hispanic white
74.3%
5
69.1%
Hispanic
16.3%
2
12.5%
Black
3.0%
10
12.1%
Asian
2.8%
4
3.6%
Other
3.6%
2
2.7%

Sagebrush--Annual income group
 
Percentage
Rank among regions
National average
Less than $25,000
23.7%
8
25.6%
$25,000 to $50,000
25.2%
6
26.2%
$50,000 to $75,000
34.6%
2
28.2%
$75,000 to $100,000
8.1%
7
9.1%
More than $100,000
8.5%
9
11.0%

Sagebrush--Age group
 
Percentage
Rank among regions
National average
Less than 18
28.3%
1
25.7%
18-35
23.6%
4
23.8%
35-50
22.6%
10
23.2%
50-65
14.2%
9
14.9%
Over 65
11.4%
9
12.4%

Sagebrush--Educational group
 
Percentage
Rank among regions
National average
No high school diploma
18.7%
6
19.6%
High school diploma
26.3%
8
28.6%
Some college
32.9%
1
27.4%
Bachelor's degree
14.7%
8
15.5%
Post-graduate degree
7.3%
9
8.9%


TOPICS: Politics/Elections; US: Alabama; US: Alaska; US: Arizona; US: Arkansas; US: California; US: Colorado; US: Connecticut; US: Delaware; US: District of Columbia; US: Florida; US: Georgia; US: Hawaii; US: Idaho; US: Illinois; US: Indiana; US: Iowa; US: Kansas; US: Kentucky; US: Louisiana; US: Maine; US: Maryland; US: Massachusetts; US: Michigan; US: Minnesota; US: Mississippi; US: Missouri; US: Montana; US: Nebraska; US: Nevada; US: New Hampshire; US: New Jersey; US: New Mexico; US: New York; US: North Carolina; US: North Dakota; US: Ohio; US: Oklahoma; US: Oregon; US: Pennsylvania; US: Rhode Island; US: South Carolina; US: South Dakota; US: Tennessee; US: Texas; US: Utah; US: Vermont; US: Virginia; US: Washington; US: West Virginia; US: Wisconsin; US: Wyoming
KEYWORDS:
Navigation: use the links below to view more comments.
first 1-5051-55 next last

1 posted on 12/11/2003 5:50:02 PM PST by GraniteStateConservative
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | View Replies]

To: JohnnyZ; southernnorthcarolina; PhiKapMom; My2Cents; Torie; AntiGuv; Coop; KQQL; deport; ...
ping
2 posted on 12/11/2003 5:51:47 PM PST by GraniteStateConservative ("Howard Dean is incontrovertible proof that God is on Bush's side in the 2004 election"- Dick Morris)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Dog Gone; Miss Marple; Howlin; PhiKapMom
A little info about political regions ......
3 posted on 12/11/2003 5:53:35 PM PST by deport
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 2 | View Replies]

To: Theodore R.
you may find this of interest
4 posted on 12/11/2003 6:02:58 PM PST by deport
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 3 | View Replies]

To: deport
Very interesting.

Good scolarship, good research.

The only quibble I have is that I am in El Northe in Colorado Springs, and in Colorado, a DemoRAT couldn't win anything above dog catcher!!!
5 posted on 12/11/2003 6:03:26 PM PST by ChinaGotTheGoodsOnClinton
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 3 | View Replies]

To: deport
I live in Memphis and can tell you that Western Tennessee has nothing in common with Minnesota and Wisconsin even though all three states are "near" the Mississippi River.
6 posted on 12/11/2003 6:05:15 PM PST by 07055
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 3 | View Replies]

To: deport
Some more explanation of this:
No winner of a presidential election has carried fewer than five regions in at least three decades. But it's especially clear in the razor's edge closeness of the 2000 presidential election: George W. Bush and Al Gore each won five regions, but it was Bush's hair's-breadth victory in Southern Lowlands that carried the day.

Although the purpose of our framework is not prediction, the explanatory power of CommonWealth's analysis is evident: If either Bush or the eventual Democratic nominee in 2004 can carry a sixth region, as Bill Clinton did in both 1992 and 1996, he is virtually assured to win in November. As political campaigns pull out their maps and sharpen their pencils, setting a course for November 2, 2004, they should consult our cartography - if only to determine where their opportunities lie, and where they're wasting their time.

Three of our regions have voted Republican in every election since 1964. SAGEBRUSH, which includes most of the Rocky Mountain states and a piece of northern New England; SOUTHERN COMFORT, which follows the Gulf Coast and reaches up to the Ozarks; and the FARM BELT, which stretches from Ohio to Nebraska but leapfrogs the Mississippi River. Two others lean Republican, but have boosted Democrats from time to time. APPALACHIA, which follows the mountain range from Pennsylvania to Mississippi, supported Jimmy Carter in 1976 but abandoned him in 1980 and backed the GOP ever since. SOUTHERN LOWLANDS, which stretches from Washington, DC, to New Orleans, stayed with Carter in 1980 and supported Clinton twice in the 1990s but rejected northerners Walter Mondale and Michael Dukakis, not to mention Gore in 2000.

Three regions have flip-flopped in a dramatic way, voting for Carter in 1976, switching to Reagan in 1980 and 1984, then going Democratic in the past four elections: UPPER COASTS, which includes most of New England and the Pacific Northwest; GREAT LAKES, which takes in such cities as Chicago, Detroit, Cleveland, and Buffalo; and BIG RIVER, which follows the Mississippi from Duluth to Memphis. NORTHEAST CORRIDOR, which runs from Bridgeport to Bethesda, followed the same course except that it snubbed Dukakis and waited until 1992 to switch back to the Democrats - and stayed there. Finally, EL NORTE, which stretches from Los Angeles to Brownsville, Texas, and also includes the Miami area, backed Republican candidates from 1968 through 1988 but more recently supported Clinton and Gore.

Presidential campaigns know that winning demographic groups means nothing if they don't translate into electoral votes. The 10-region model reveals precise ways to rack up the Electoral College tally.

Because many states are split between regions, there are two ways to put a state's electoral votes into a candidate's column. One is to maximize the vote in a region more favorable to the candidate, either by increasing voter turnout there or by increasing the candidate's share of the vote - perhaps through a "bandwagon" effect by which independents accede to the prevailing sentiment in their neighborhood. The other is an expansionist strategy, which spreads the boundaries of one's favorable regions to capture territory from the opposition's geographic base. Indeed, such land grabs are the only way to keep the opposition from winning a fifth region and perhaps sending the election into overtime, as happened in 2000 when Gore narrowly won the Big River region and picked up the electoral votes of Iowa, Minnesota, and Wisconsin.

Of course, Bush's ability to win a fifth region was crucial to his victory in 2000. He easily won the four regions that hadn't supported a Democrat since at least 1976 (Appalachia, the Farm Belt, Sagebrush, and Southern Comfort), and he narrowly captured Southern Lowlands, which had eluded his father in 1992 and Robert Dole in 1996. Losing the Southern Lowlands cost the senior Bush the electoral votes of Georgia and Louisiana and then cost Dole the electoral votes of Florida and Louisiana. As it turned out, George W. Bush needed every one of those electoral votes to prevail in the last election.

If Bush holds together the five-region coalition that (barely) worked for him in 2000, he could win the Electoral College by a slightly more comfortable margin the next time around. That's because he won four of the five regions that had above-average population growth during the previous decade, and those regions gained electoral votes after the 2000 Census. When electoral votes were reallocated on the basis of population shifts, states that are at least partly in the Sagebrush region gained seven votes, while states that are at least partly in the Great Lakes region lost seven votes. If every state votes the same way it did in the last election, Bush would win seven more electoral votes - a total of 278 votes, up from 271 in 2000.

From our 10-region perspective, Bush has a strategic decision to make in 2004. He could retain his office by squeezing more votes out of the five regions he won in 2000 - perhaps by increasing turnout among religious conservatives and other core Republican groups. That would preserve his advantage in the Electoral College, but it might result in another popular-vote loss. The alternative is to expand his appeal to moderates and independents enough to win six or more regions.

Either way, Bush will have to start by nailing down his base. In 2000, Bush won almost all of the electoral votes available in two regions: SOUTHERN COMFORT (his strongest region, which includes his home in Crawford, Texas), and SOUTHERN LOWLANDS (the most marginal of the five regions Bush won). Together they will count for a maximum of 176 electoral votes in 2004, or almost two-thirds of the 270 votes needed to win the election. Sixteen of those votes seem beyond Bush's grasp (they belong to Delaware, the District of Columbia, and Maryland), but another 27 depend on a win in Florida, where the GOP's lead in 2000 was tenuous, to put it mildly. Both Southern Comfort and Southern Lowlands extend into Florida, and Bush's brother Jeb ran strongly enough in both regions to be re-elected governor by a wide margin in 2002. Can George duplicate Jeb's feat?

In the Southern Comfort region, his best prospects are in St. Petersburg's Pinellas County. The Gulf Coast county narrowly went for Gore in 2000, but Jeb easily carried it in 2002, and the county also went against the rest of the state in turning down a referendum to reduce class sizes in public schools. And in the less affluent Southern Lowlands section of the state, the place for him to go is Daytona Beach's Volusia County. Gore won it by 15,000 votes in 2000, but Jeb took it by 13,000 votes two years later. If George rolls up an even bigger margin, he might effectively expand the solidly Republican Southern Comfort region to the Atlantic Ocean.

APPALACHIA, Bush's second strongest region in 2000, would give him another 44 electoral votes (in addition to the 160 earned in Southern Comfort and Southern Lowlands) if the states fell the same way they did in the last election. But a push in the region could capture another 21 votes from the one Appalachia state denied to Bush in 2000: Pennsylvania. Bush lost the Keystone State by five points at the same time that conservative Republican Sen. Rick

Santorum was winning re-election by six points. If Bush can match Santorum's percentages in the rural interior of the state, and hope that voter turnout is not extraordinarily high in the urban centers of the east and west, Pennsylvania's electoral votes will be his. But given that the Appalachia portion of the state has relatively low population growth, a better long-range strategy for the GOP in Pennsylvania may be to seize territory to the west, in the Great Lakes region (Erie County), or the east, in Northeast Corridor (Bethlehem's Northampton County).

The SAGEBRUSH region was the GOP's strongest in 1980, when Ronald Reagan was elected. Since then, this libertarian-leaning area has been just a bit less reliable, especially when Ross Perot was on the ballot, but Bush will win another 49 electoral votes if its states fall the same way they did in 2000. A stronger effort here could help the Republicans gain up to 27 electoral votes from states Bush lost in 2000. New Mexico is the most promising pick-up, considering that Gore's 366-vote margin in the last election was tainted by numerous ballot-counting problems. If Bush can scare up enough voters to increase his 5,038-margin in Roswell's Chaves County to the 6,637-margin given to his father in 1988, the state's five electoral votes could be his. The problem is that the El Norte section of the state is growing faster: Bush got 2,500 more votes in Albuquerque's Bernalillo County than his father did in 1988, but Gore got 21,000 more votes than Dukakis did. What happens in this little state will speak volumes about the GOP's prospects in competing for the Latino vote.

In three other states, the Sagebrush region is struggling for supremacy with more culturally liberal Upper Coasts. Oregon, the scene of several bitter referendum questions on abortion and gay rights, is the most on the fence. The outcome there in 2004 may depend on the battle between two suburban Portland counties: Sagebrush's Clackamas County, pointing toward the eastern, more rural part of the state, which Bush carried by a mere 1,000 votes; and Upper Coasts' Washington County, which extends toward the Pacific and which Gore carried by 4,500 votes. If Bush runs up his vote total in Clackamas or pulls Washington into Sagebrush, he could break the Democrats' 20-year winning streak here.

Washington state is a bit more securely Democratic, thanks to increasingly liberal Seattle, but strong population growth in the Sagebrush section of the state offers hope to the GOP. There's also the possibility that Upper Coasts' Clark County (which includes Vancouver and sits on the Oregon border) will reach a tipping point and get annexed by Sagebrush: Dukakis won it by a margin of 40,000 to 37,000 in 1988, but Bush won it by 67,000 to 62,000 in the last election.

Finally, Maine hasn't shown much enthusiasm for culturally conservative Republicans, but issues such as gun control could work against the Democrats in rural areas, and the state's penchant for third parties like the Greens could give Bush an opening to grab at least one of the state's four electoral votes. (Maine and Nebraska are the only two states that award electoral votes to the winner in each congressional district.) Given that the Sagebrush part of Maine has much slower population growth, the GOP may have to claim territory from Upper Coasts in order to carry the state. The shipbuilding city of Bath, and surrounding Sagadahoc County, could indicate whether Boston-centric liberalism extends far enough up the coast to keep this state with the Democrats.

The FARM BELT has lost some political clout since it was Gerald Ford's strongest region in 1976, but Bush can count on another 22 electoral votes from Indiana, Kansas, and Nebraska, and he may be able to squeeze 24 more votes out of the region. Iowa came within 4,200 votes of giving Bush its seven electoral votes in 2000, somewhat surprising for a state that

gave Dukakis a 125,000-vote margin in 1988. The 34 counties in the Farm Belt, all in the western third of the state, are solid for the GOP, but in most major races the Democrats compensate in the cities of Big River, from Des Moines east to Davenport and Dubuque. Ames's Story County, squarely in the middle of the state, may be a bellwether for the next election; the Democratic margin here shrank from 6,300 to 1,200 votes between 1988 and 2000. If Bush can pull Story into the Farm Belt, it may be a sign that Republicans have an edge for many statewide elections to come.

The only other state where a Farm Belt strategy could pay dividends is in Ford's home state of Michigan. In the last election, 38 of the state's 83 counties switched from the Democrats to the Republicans, leaving Gore with just a handful outside the Detroit area. If next year's Democratic nominee is seen as hostile to rural interests, he could lose serious ground in this territory, possibly costing him the state's 17 electoral votes. But this is no sure thing for the GOP. Suburban Detroit, part of the Great Lakes region (see below), has been steadily trending toward the Democrats since the first President Bush broke his "no new taxes" pledge.

Bush's best chance to capture a sixth region in 2004 is BIG RIVER, which was the most closely divided of all the regions in the last election. But close elections are a fact of life in this part of the country, and it won't be easy to shift many here. In addition to Iowa (mentioned above), Minnesota is sure to be on Bush's hit list next November. The state, which also includes a sliver of the Farm Belt, hasn't voted for a Republican since 1972, but the Democrats' hold has been weak, as none of their nominees has received more than 55 percent during the same period. Bush pulled off something of a coup here in 2000, winning all three of the biggest suburban counties in the Minneapolis areas (Anoka, Dakota, and Washington), none of which had gone Republican since Reagan ran for re-election. In all three cases, Bush's victory margin was smaller than the vote total that went to Green Party candidate Ralph Nader, meaning that he'll have to work hard to keep those counties on his side. But there was a good omen for him in 2002: All three counties went solidly for Republican US Senate candidate Norm Coleman over dragged-out-of-retirement Democrat Walter Mondale.

Wisconsin is also an irresistible target for Bush, given Gore's 5,000-vote win in the last election, but Democrats have a long history of pulling out tight victories here. Better prospects for 2004 are two Big River counties: La Crosse, right on the Mississippi, which went for Gore by 4,000 votes; and Wausau's Marathon County, in the central part of the state, which went for Bush by 2,000 votes. If the margins are flipped next November, it's a good sign for Bush.

Moving all of the states mentioned above into his column would give Bush 371 electoral votes, just shy of the 379 won by Clinton in 1996.

7 posted on 12/11/2003 6:06:55 PM PST by GraniteStateConservative ("Howard Dean is incontrovertible proof that God is on Bush's side in the 2004 election"- Dick Morris)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 3 | View Replies]

To: ChinaGotTheGoodsOnClinton
To me it looks like El Norte winds around you in Colorado Springs, if Denver is where I think it is.
8 posted on 12/11/2003 6:14:02 PM PST by GraniteStateConservative ("Howard Dean is incontrovertible proof that God is on Bush's side in the 2004 election"- Dick Morris)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 5 | View Replies]

To: deport
This is very interesting. Thank you very much for the ping.
9 posted on 12/11/2003 6:16:50 PM PST by Dog Gone
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 3 | View Replies]

To: GraniteStateConservative
bump
10 posted on 12/11/2003 6:23:58 PM PST by nkycincinnatikid
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Torie
Right up your alley.
11 posted on 12/11/2003 6:26:18 PM PST by jwalsh07
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 10 | View Replies]

To: GraniteStateConservative
Beware Metro & Regional Government... Appointed Non Electorial Treason At its Worse!
12 posted on 12/11/2003 6:43:46 PM PST by winker
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: GraniteStateConservative
Could someone on this thread please post the Red/Blue map ot the election of 2000 so in can be compared with the ten regions? Thanks in advance.
13 posted on 12/11/2003 6:45:41 PM PST by the lone wolf (Good Luck, and watch out for stobor.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: GraniteStateConservative; maica; Travis McGee
Very interesting. Thank heavens for the sanity of FreeRepublic here in the southern tip of the Northeast Corridor.
14 posted on 12/11/2003 6:46:05 PM PST by Freee-dame
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: GraniteStateConservative
The Nine Nations of North America is the obvious lead in to this. Wonder if it is some of the same people.

Republicans need to fight VOTE FRAUD to win. Amazing that every close state went to GORE.

Hopefully the margins are so big that it becomes a mute point.

15 posted on 12/11/2003 6:47:17 PM PST by Jack Black
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 7 | View Replies]

To: the lone wolf

16 posted on 12/11/2003 6:51:59 PM PST by deport
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 13 | View Replies]

To: GraniteStateConservative
This is a very interesting piece. I read it earlier at another website that I know we both read, even though it is run by a Dem. I am proud to live in the most Republican region of America.
17 posted on 12/11/2003 6:52:36 PM PST by AC1
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 8 | View Replies]

To: the lone wolf
Now by states


18 posted on 12/11/2003 6:54:01 PM PST by deport
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 13 | View Replies]

To: GraniteStateConservative
The only part of this map I don't like is that it takes separate parts of the country and makes them one region. What does Wyoming or Utah have in common with Maine? Maine is much more liberal.
19 posted on 12/11/2003 6:57:10 PM PST by AC1
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 7 | View Replies]

To: GraniteStateConservative
Behind liberal lines here in the Northeast Corridor! And yes, I travel the Northeast Corridor rails!
20 posted on 12/11/2003 6:58:24 PM PST by Incorrigible
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: GraniteStateConservative
Interesting. My county is the only SE Michigan one in the farm belt.(It's aggie in the West and exurban in the East and very Republican).
21 posted on 12/11/2003 7:01:32 PM PST by Dan from Michigan ("if you wanna run cool, you got to run, on heavy heavy fuel" - Dire Straits)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: GraniteStateConservative
Cool. I love this sort of analysis.
22 posted on 12/11/2003 7:05:35 PM PST by Snuffington
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: GraniteStateConservative
Interesting stuff. Thanks for the post and the ping, Granite.

Two books immediately came to mind, and I'd be shocked if they weren't sources of inspiration for the author.

The Nine Nations of North America (1981), by Joel Garreau, makes a similar effort to carve up the United States (and, in Garreau's case, Canada as well) into areas of commonality. Garreau's book was much broader in scope than Sullivan's article, which focuses on the political implications of the geographic breakdowns as he sees them.

Another obvious model is Kevin Phillips' prescient The Emerging Republican Majority (1969), still a good read and still accurate in many ways 34 years later. Phillips popularized the term "Sun Belt," linking the conservative sentiments of the South, the Farm Belt, the Rockies, and (less accurately, it turns out, Southern California). The "Sun Belt" concept seems so obvious now -- mirroring to a large extent the perennial GOP targets -- but the idea seems not to have been previously considered very much. Phillips, of course, broke down the Sun Belt into subregions, and frankly, many of his maps are more logical (if less detailed) than Sullivan's.

It's easy, of course, to nitpick the regions and boundaries that Sullivan comes up with. The "Big River" region seems particularly contrived to me. But it's a very interesting study, and one I'm sure will get the attention of strategists on both sides of the 2004 race.

23 posted on 12/11/2003 7:06:01 PM PST by southernnorthcarolina (All that, and a bag of chips.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: GraniteStateConservative
I can't speak for the other regions but Sullivan has done obviously shoddy research in his graphics presentation of El Norte.

50% of the land area he demonstrates in California is probably the most gentrified area in the state and has limited diversity. Starting from Oxnard northward, with the exception of Oxnard/Ventura on the south, King City/Salinas in the middle and San Jose in the north, the majorty of the area is populated by substantial wealth, mainly liberal to moderate and almost exclusively anglo.

The second highest percapita concentration of Hispanics in the US, behind the LA Basin, is located in the San Joaquin Valley, a substantial land area, which the author places in the Sagebrush.

This old boy paints whith a broad and loose brush in the West. Are the other areas as inaccurate as well?

24 posted on 12/11/2003 7:14:42 PM PST by Amerigomag
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: southernnorthcarolina
The Nine Nations of North America (1981), by Joel Garreau

I read this book back in 1982 and I was impressed. This was obviously an inspiration for the author of this piece.

25 posted on 12/11/2003 7:18:20 PM PST by buccaneer81
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 23 | View Replies]

To: GraniteStateConservative
bump
26 posted on 12/11/2003 7:22:04 PM PST by There's millions of'em (Bill Clinton was a great Democrat President)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: 07055
I live in Memphis and can tell you that Western Tennessee has nothing in common with Minnesota and Wisconsin even though all three states are "near" the Mississippi River.

I agree.

If I were drawing the map, I'd make the "Southern Lowlands" area more or less U-shaped. It would include most of Mississippi (how can the Delta be considered part of Appalachia?), eastern Arkansas, western Tennessee, and the tips of Kentucky, Illinois, and Missouri near the confluence of the Mississippi and Ohio Rivers. These areas, it seems to me, are economically, socially, and politically a part of the South, and have little in common with Minneapolis.

27 posted on 12/11/2003 7:23:06 PM PST by southernnorthcarolina (All that, and a bag of chips.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 6 | View Replies]

To: Amerigomag
I live in the San Joaquin Valley. Please chack the Red/Blue county-by county map in post #13--every county in the San Joaquin Valley went for Bush II in 2000.

Many Hispanics around here are conservative.
28 posted on 12/11/2003 7:36:47 PM PST by the lone wolf (Good Luck, and watch out for stobor.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 24 | View Replies]

To: buccaneer81
I would also recommend Garreau's Edge City, 1992. He has a way of "thinking outside the box" that I find very interesting.

In this case, it's about the causes and effects of "new cities" which have sprung up on the perimeters of major metro areas, such as Lenox/Buckhead (Atlanta) and Tysons Corner (VA suburbs of DC).

It's a reasonably sympathetic look at what many denigrate as "urban sprawl."

29 posted on 12/11/2003 7:45:39 PM PST by southernnorthcarolina (All that, and a bag of chips.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 25 | View Replies]

To: southernnorthcarolina
Sounds interesting. I would add Henderson (Las Vegas), Nashua (Boston), and Tempe (Phoenix).
30 posted on 12/11/2003 7:52:27 PM PST by buccaneer81
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 29 | View Replies]

To: jwalsh07
Some of the regions are alas a rather clumsy artifice. I particularly dislike the Big River region versus the Farm Belt. The differences to the extent they exist in the more rural and small town regions have to do with agricultural variegation (corn and soybeans versus cattle and wheat), and with various and sundry ethnic traditions. The Southern part of the Big River is a whole other bag in and of itself.

El Norte also is queer (which includes Newport Beach, California and Laredo, Texas in it). Granted, most of it has varying significant percentages of Latinos, who themselves within the region have varying voting patterns. Some of El Norte is trending Dem, and some of it isn't, including really Orange County, where the Latino influence is counterbalanced more or less by the increase of population is very well to do, and heavily GOP, South Orange County. Southern Comfort is another artifice. It is just heavily WASP and Anglo (low black percentages to boot), and for varying reasons on top of that, heavily GOP. Just what do the well to do WASP retirees in Naples County, Florida have to do with the Tyson's chicken folks in Northwest Arkansas, and the odd little partial slice of some Coonass Parishes?

The Green region is more cohesive, and indeed Green, but it has the lumberjack county of Del Norte in it (the northernmost county on the California coast), which should be excised.

31 posted on 12/11/2003 8:20:51 PM PST by Torie
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 11 | View Replies]

To: southernnorthcarolina
The map by and large although not entirely sucks in my opinion. Cheers.
32 posted on 12/11/2003 8:22:40 PM PST by Torie
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 23 | View Replies]

To: Tijeras_Slim
It looks like NM is the heart of "El Norte" (the PC term for New Aztlan.)
33 posted on 12/11/2003 8:23:58 PM PST by Travis McGee (----- www.EnemiesForeignAndDomestic.com -----)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 30 | View Replies]

To: Torie
I might add that farming in Indiana and Western Ohio and much of Western Michigan is de minimus as to its relative impact on the economy. The place is fed by manufacturing, but it is done in smaller units with less union influence, and by ethnic groups that tend to be more conservative. Those areas aren't really in a farm belt.
34 posted on 12/11/2003 8:28:23 PM PST by Torie
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 31 | View Replies]

To: Travis McGee
Except that the Latins there think of themselves as Spanish rather than Mexican, and have been there since before the Pilgrims.
35 posted on 12/11/2003 8:30:12 PM PST by Torie
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 33 | View Replies]

To: Torie
Which Latins? How many today count themselves among that group?
36 posted on 12/11/2003 8:37:08 PM PST by Travis McGee (----- www.EnemiesForeignAndDomestic.com -----)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 35 | View Replies]

To: Travis McGee
The one's in the Northern third of New Mexico outside of the Eastern Northern sliver that is called "Little Texas."
37 posted on 12/11/2003 8:39:35 PM PST by Torie
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 36 | View Replies]

To: Amerigomag
This old boy paints whith a broad and loose brush in the West. Are the other areas as inaccurate as well?

Yes.

38 posted on 12/11/2003 8:46:07 PM PST by Doctor Stochastic (Vegetabilisch = chaotisch is der Charakter der Modernen. - Friedrich Schlegel)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 24 | View Replies]

To: Amerigomag
Actually Hispanics do the heavy lifting in the areas of California you mention. The place is simply too expensive to be very attractive to low wage earning Anglos performing such tasks, and they have decamped by and large. There is a significant Hispanic percentage through out, but they have a limited impact on the political dynamics.
39 posted on 12/11/2003 8:52:35 PM PST by Torie
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 24 | View Replies]

To: GraniteStateConservative
Big Thanks. Bookmarked and Bumped.
40 posted on 12/11/2003 9:12:56 PM PST by PA Engineer
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Jack Black
I agree but there was one close state that went to Bush. The dims went to the wall for it but in the end it and the presidency fell into the right hands.
41 posted on 12/11/2003 9:19:41 PM PST by xp38
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 15 | View Replies]

To: Torie
"In Democratic presidential primaries, the region favors traditional liberals such as Ted Kennedy and Walter Mondale; it has been lukewarm toward Southerners such as Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton, no matter how forward-thinking."

HUH? I guess the author thinks that liberal thinking is "forward thinking" and that therefore conservatives are "backward thinking". Funny how hard it is for people to disguise their bias no matter how much they try.
42 posted on 12/11/2003 9:21:13 PM PST by winner3000
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 39 | View Replies]

To: GraniteStateConservative
Much thanks for the ping!
43 posted on 12/11/2003 10:51:24 PM PST by AntiGuv (When the countdown hits zero, something's gonna happen..)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 2 | View Replies]

To: AC1
Not the whole state of Maine, just a part of it. The Sagebrush region is supposedly a more libertarian region, and a region less tied to political parties. That part of Maine is probably that way-- based on how it voted for Nader and Perot and Angus King.
44 posted on 12/12/2003 3:56:50 AM PST by GraniteStateConservative ("Howard Dean is incontrovertible proof that God is on Bush's side in the 2004 election"- Dick Morris)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 19 | View Replies]

To: Travis McGee
It looks like NM is the heart of "El Norte" (the PC term for New Aztlan.)

Come and visit while the dollar exchange rate is still good! :)

45 posted on 12/12/2003 4:37:13 AM PST by Tijeras_Slim (SSDD - Same S#it Different Democrat)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 33 | View Replies]

To: Tijeras_Slim
Ping for later!
46 posted on 12/12/2003 4:41:33 AM PST by Alas Babylon!
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 45 | View Replies]

To: GraniteStateConservative
There are two Democrats from the region running for president this time around, both of whom are trying to restore once-impressive political reputations: former US Sen. Carol Mosley-Braun of Illinois and US Rep. (and former Cleveland mayor) Dennis Kucinich of Ohio.
Dennis the Menace has had a horrible reputation for nearly a quarter of a century. He couldn't get elected countywide in Cuyahoga, let alone statewide and not to mention nationwide. He's got his district loaded with enough class-envy susceptible voters to elect him, and that's his niche. His Presidential run is the purest vanity.

Actually, Cleveland's suburban counties are by no means all Democratic. Medina County is pretty solidly Republican and GOP congressman Steve LaTourette has no problem getting re-elected in Lake and Geagua.

-Eric

47 posted on 12/12/2003 4:54:40 AM PST by E Rocc
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: GraniteStateConservative
Great post! Thanks. I happen to live right on the borderline between Upper Coast and Sagebrush, in Salem, OR. and I'm well aware of the political tensions here. In '00 Gore won the state overall, but carried only 3 or 4 counties. I boldly predict GW will carry OR in '04!
48 posted on 12/12/2003 6:46:00 AM PST by ARepublicanForAllReasons (Where would we be, in 2003, had we elected 'The Tree'???)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Torie
You should be seated at the right hand of O'Reilly on election eve. :-}

You do know this "crap", thats for dang sure.

49 posted on 12/12/2003 7:50:02 AM PST by jwalsh07
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 31 | View Replies]

To: Tijeras_Slim
Come and visit before the Milicia checkpoints go up! (Just kidding. That's in 2010.)
50 posted on 12/12/2003 7:51:16 AM PST by Travis McGee (----- www.EnemiesForeignAndDomestic.com -----)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 45 | View Replies]


Navigation: use the links below to view more comments.
first 1-5051-55 next last

Disclaimer: Opinions posted on Free Republic are those of the individual posters and do not necessarily represent the opinion of Free Republic or its management. All materials posted herein are protected by copyright law and the exemption for fair use of copyrighted works.

Free Republic
Browse · Search
News/Activism
Topics · Post Article

FreeRepublic, LLC, PO BOX 9771, FRESNO, CA 93794
FreeRepublic.com is powered by software copyright 2000-2008 John Robinson