Red State-Blue State Divide Persists - Pacific Standard

Red State-Blue State Divide Persists

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One surprising result from this week's presidential election: The red state-blue state divide may have gotten deeper.

That’s the conclusion of political scientist Alan Abramowitz of Emory University in Atlanta. His analysis of the returns notes that there were 34 “blowout states” — that is, states where either Barack Obama or John McCain won by at least 10 percent. That’s down from 25 states in both 2000 and 2004. In contrast, only seven states were decided by fewer than five points — down from 12 in 2000 and 11 in 2004.

“While there are more blue states, the divide between the red states and blue states is larger than ever,” he concluded. “There may be only one United States of America, as Barack says, but the divide between the red states and blue states is deeper than at any time in the past sixty years.”

Why are individual states swinging more decisively one way or the other?

“I think it's a combination of differences in regional culture and different concentrations of demographic groups that favor one side or the other,” he said. “There are certainly liberal enclaves in deeply conservative states, but they comprise a small proportion of the population in those states.”

Incidentally, Abramowitz did an uncanny job at predicting the outcome of the popular vote. The Sept. 11 issue of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported his projection that the final tally would be 54.3 percent for Obama vs. 45.7 percent for McCain. The actual results: 52.3 percent for Obama vs. 46.4 percent for McCain.

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