Daily Kos Elections Morning Digest 9/30/13… A fresh way of looking at presidential elections

Reposted from Daily Kos Elections by David Nir

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Leading Off:

• Presidential Elections: Political science professor Tom Holbrook has a series of cool graphics in a post on his blog that takes 550 data points most of us are at least somewhat familiar with—how the presidential vote went in each state over the period from 1972 to 2012—and presents them in a helpful new way. Holbrook has created time-series graphs for each state using the “centered Democratic share of the two-party vote, which is similar to Cook PVI but translated to the state level. He’s then ordered the charts from biggest Democratic trend to biggest Republican trend. Here’s the Democratic-trending half (click through to his post to see the GOP half):

Presidential numbers by state

Many of what we think of as the “bluest” states weren’t always that way: Vermont, California, even Hawaii began the post-civil rights era very competitive, and New Hampshire was an outright red state. Meanwhile, in the realm of the fastest downward slopes, West Virginia started out blue (although George McGovern managed to bomb even there in 1972), while Oklahoma and Kentucky were near the median. If you’re wondering which slope is the flattest, it may well be good ol’ reliable Ohio, the swingiest of states not just last year but throughout the last four decades. Two other traditional swing states, Pennsylvania and Iowa, have also barely budged at all, though they’ve always been slightly bluer than nation’s median.

Holbrook’s charts are also a good tool for spotting how certain candidates had regional strengths that broke up the overall trend in some states. A fairly recent example is Bill Clinton moving the needle a great deal, if only briefly, in Arkansas. A much more profound effect came via Jimmy Carter, who pushed a number of Deep South states strongly in the Democratic direction, not just in 1976 but also 1980. Also standing out like a sore thumb: Michael Dukakis’ 1988 over-performance in the upper Midwest, especially Iowa, thanks to the farm crisis. (David Jarman)

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