From New York Post
Is the political map so familiar that even non-pundits offhandedly refer to red, blue and purple states changing before our eyes? Yes, at least to a limited extent — and it’s probably about time.
The political map has been pretty static for almost two decades, the longest since the 1880s.
In the last four presidential elections, 40 states and the District of Columbia, with 422 electoral votes, have voted for nominees of the same party each time. In only a few cases were the margins very close, as was the case with the five states with 41 electoral votes that voted for a second party just once (North Carolina, Indiana, Iowa, New Mexico, New Hampshire).
That leaves only five states, with 75 electoral votes, supporting the winning candidates, George W. Bush and Barack Obama, in all of the last four elections. You will recognize them as the purplest of purple states: Florida, Ohio, Virginia, Colorado, Nevada.
Current polling, which shows Hillary Clinton leading Donald Trump by 4 points nationally, suggests it’s possible that all 40 steadfast states will stay in the same column next November.
Clinton is actually running stronger in 2012 target states than nationally, perhaps because her campaign has been running reams of television ads in most of them and Trump’s hasn’t.
There’s also something else going on, some significant though not overwhelming trends among identifiable segments of the electorate.
Trump has tended to run better than earlier Republicans among non-college-graduate whites and weaker among college graduates, and better among the old than the young.
That explains why he’s apparently running far behind in purple states Virginia and Colorado, with their young and high-education populations, to the point that the Clinton campaign has canceled ad buys there. Actually, this is an extension of the trend that shifted those two states from safe Republican in the Bush elections to national-average purple states in the Obama elections.
At the same time, Trump’s comparative strength among non-college whites has left him competitive in Florida, Colorado and Iowa and well ahead in Indiana, with their older, less educated populations. And it’s made him at least potentially competitive in the industrial swath from western Pennsylvania to eastern Iowa.
The map may also be changing in Georgia and Arizona, where polls show close races. In recent elections, college graduate whites there have been casting huge Republican percentages, overcoming Democratic margins among their growing black and Hispanic minorities. Trump’s weakness among college grads may help Clinton carry their 27 electoral votes.
Will these shifts prove enduring, however this election turns out? Evidence from history suggests they might. Barry Goldwater and George McGovern, about as far out of line with their parties’ previous nominees as Trump is, lost in 1964 and 1972 landslides, respectively. But the groups among which they made gains became part of their parties’ bases in the future.
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