November 12, 2004


Tote that barge, lift that bale: In winning re-election, President Bush collected electoral votes in Big River and popular votes in Northeast Corridor, while Sen. Kerry won the new-votes sweepstakes only in Upper Coasts and Great Lakes (ROBERT DAVID SULLIVAN, Commonwealth)

George W. Bush can now claim a clear victory in the popular vote for president, thanks in large part to people in and around New York City. But the president got no re-election mandate from the citizens of Savannah, Ga.

Wait a minute. Doesn't the familiar red-and-blue map prove that the North is indefatigably Democratic and the South irrevocably Republican? Well, when you go beyond red and blue, things in the electorate get more complicated. Last year, in Beyond Red & Blue, we devised a map that divided the United States into 10 distinct political regions that each cast about 10.5 million votes in the 2000 presidential election. These regions cut across state lines and, in many cases, divide battleground states into two or three different regions, which explain why they "swing."

Last year we predicted that if Bush or the Democratic nominee carried a sixth region, while holding on to the five he or his party's nominee won in 2000, he would have a clear (i.e., litigation-free) win. (For full election results by region, see table at bottom of this page) Bush accomplished this feat, but not by much, winning the Big River region with a margin of 50.1 percent to 49.0 percent. Big River, which follows the Mississippi from northern Minnesota to Memphis, includes most of three states (Iowa, Minnesota, and Wisconsin) that were showered with television ads and candidate appearances this fall. In only about 65 of the 3,140 counties nationwide were Bush and Kerry separated by less than one percentage point, and the greatest number were in Big River. They included Peoria and Winnebago counties in Illinois, and Columbia's Boone County and the St. Louis area's Jefferson County in Missouri.

Bush did gain in the Electoral College by turning Iowa red, but the Republican hold on both that state and Big River as a whole is tenuous. Indeed, the Republicans picked up only four counties in Iowa, none of them with more than 10,000 votes each. Bush did somewhat better in the Big River counties of Arkansas and Tennessee than he did in 2000, but Kerry made gains in the Big River portions of Minnesota and Wisconsin (probably more from converting Nader voters than from winning over former Bush voters).

IL is likely to remain competitive for Democrats, but Senator Kerry getting under 50% in WI and barely carrying PA, MN, and MI suggests those four are ready to swing Red. Catholics are going to be the death of the Democrats who'll basically be reduced to only coastal states.

Posted by Orrin Judd at November 12, 2004 9:57 AM

Peoria IL is Caterpillar union.

Posted by: Sandy P at November 12, 2004 10:41 AM

The sooner that ol' global warming swells the Great Lakes and inundates the blue infestation, sooner we can all move on...

Posted by: M. Murcek at November 12, 2004 11:22 AM

The analysis is interesting if flawed. In particular many of their regional breakdowns have really nothing in common.

What do El Paso and Miami have in common? I would say pretty much nothing, unless merely having lots of spainish speakers makes them the same.

Posted by: AML at November 12, 2004 2:01 PM

Forget all the rest. I'm still pissed about NH.

Posted by: genecis at November 12, 2004 8:29 PM