The Emergence of the South and West as the New Democratic Base

by Doug Sosnik

With the completion of the country’s political realignment, there is an emerging new Democratic blue wall in presidential politics.  There are seven western states – California, Colorado, Hawaii, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, and Washington – with a total of 98 electoral votes that are firmly in the Democratic column.

There are another six states in the south and the southwest – Arizona, Florida, Georgia, North Carolina,

Texas, and Virginia – that are in various stages of becoming Blue states. When the political transformation is complete, these states will contribute to Democrats’ base of 220 electoral votes from the southern and western points of the country.

Outside of Virginia, which has already become a blue state, Arizona is the state most likely to transition to a Democratic base state as early as November.

According to Census data, since 2010 Arizona has been the fast-growing state in the country. It is now second only to Texas in terms of migration from California. Maricopa County, which encompasses highly suburban Phoenix, Scottsdale, and Tempe, is now the fourth largest county in the country.

The state’s growth has largely come from the demographic groups most opposed to Trump – younger, non-white, and college-educated voters. They increasingly make up a higher percentage of the electorate.

Between 2014-2018 there was a 13.5% increase in Arizona’s Hispanic voting age population, compared to only a 4.3% growth in white non-Hispanic registration. Hispanic turnout rose 25% between 2014 and 2018. Not surprisingly, these population changes have contributed to a significant political tilt toward Democrats in Arizona.

Just since the start of this year Democratic registered voters in Maricopa County have grown by nearly 26,000, while Republicans registered active voters have decreased by just under 5000 people.

The decline for Republicans in the state is directly tied to their diminishing support in Maricopa County, which comprises over 60% of the statewide vote.  Trump won the state by less than 91,000 votes, compared to Romney’s 208,000 vote margin in 2012. The decline in support for Trump was largely due to his three percent victory over Hillary Clinton in the county, which was significantly less than Romney’s11-point margin over Obama in 2012.

This trend continued in 2018 when Kyrsten Sinema became the first Arizona Democrat to be elected to the U.S. Senate in 30 years.  Her 55,900-vote victory was due entirely to her 60,236-vote margin in Maricopa County.

Democrats also picked up a congressional seat, giving them a majority of House members in the state. Republicans have only a narrow two-seat majority in the state House and a four-seat majority in the senate.

Biden should also be aided by the Senate race in the state where Democratic challenger Mark Kelly currently has a nine-point lead and a $9.5 million cash-on-hand advantage over appointed Republican incumbent Martha McSally.

North Carolina is another state that has been moving toward the Democratic Party since Trump took office. In 2018, Democrats picked up 10 state house seats and six senate ones.  The political environment is no better for Republicans in 2020.  Popular Democratic Governor Roy Cooper, who currently has a 74% approval rating on his handling of the coronavirus, is on the ballot and is favored to get reelected, while freshman Republican Senator Tom Tillis is currently trailing his Democratic challenger in the polls. Making matters worse, the other Republican senator, Richard Burr, currently has a 22% job approval rating following accusations that he sold off millions of dollars in stocks based on inside information prior to the outbreak of the coronavirus.

Demographic trends will continue to favor Democrats as the growth in North Carolina has come disproportionately from non-whites and college-educated voters. In 2016, 29% of the voters were non-white, while 50% of the turnout came from college graduates. The most recent public poll shows Biden leading Trump in the state by a margin of 50% to 45%. Florida has supported every successful candidate for President since 1996. With its large senior population, the health and economic impact from COVID-19 will be the wildcard in determining the outcome of the election in the state.

While Texas and Georgia are also trending Democratic and are likely to complete the shift by the end of the decade, these states are unlikely to factor in the 2020 elections. If Biden were to carry either or both of these states, then he would win the election in a landslide.

Biden’s Path to 270 Electoral College Votes:

 Biden has multiple paths to get the 38 additional Electoral College votes necessary to get elected President. The most likely scenarios to get to 270 are:1. Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Arizona:​ Biden wins all three states – his best option, given the current political environment. By winning Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Arizona, he would be elected with 279 electoral votes. ​(Map)

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This is an excerpt from the Post-Political Realignment Electoral College Map by Doug Sosnik

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