In the first part of this series, http://www.dailykos.com/... I explored the causes of Democratic trends in Colorado, North Carolina, and Virginia, three of the four swing states that have clearly gotten bluer in the past decade (along with Nevada, which I decided was too geographically boring to examine).
Using maps like those posted below, I looked at the raw numerical shift, rather than percentage shift, towards the Democrats in each state.
Colorado exhibited more of a uniform trend; other than a couple counties, the map looks more like a population map of the state than anything partisan. Virginia's was pretty uniform except for the Western part of the state, while North Carolina's way heavily based on race (Virginia's was too to some extent). Let's explore three more states, all wholly or partially Southern, to examine their trends from 2004 to 2012 and see which patterns they most resemble.
I'll begin with Florida, an interesting state because like Pennsylvania it is a swing state with sizable areas trending both directions, on the whole mostly balancing out to keep it a point or two off of the national median.
As you can see, Florida is a quiltlike patchwork of color, without a real discernible pattern. Let’s break it down to see what we can find.
1) The North is the South. Northern Florida, essentially the part of the state Newt Gingrich won in 2012, has the same voting behavior as the South. Four of the six population centers in the region swung leftward due to their Black populations (Pensacola, Jacksonville, Gainesville, and Tallahassee, with Ocala and Panama City the odd ones out), along with heavily Black Gadsden County. The two surprises on the map were Jefferson County (east of Tallahassee) and Okaloosa County (containing Fort Walton Beach). Jefferson County is a purple to light blue county with a large Black population, but the Blue Dogs abandoning the party made it red on this map anyway. Okaloosa County is heavily White and beach areas (usually older than the nation as a whole) mostly swung rightward over this period, so I’m not sure what’s going on there.
2) As always, county size doesn’t equal county population. The pale colored counties around Tallahassee had the largest swings rightward in the state; they were the base of Blue Dog congressman Allen Boyd and many of them voted for Alex Sink for Governor in 2010. But even with those large swings, they are very light on this map because of how few voters they have. They’re not really significant in 29 electoral vote Florida.
3) Seniors matter a lot in Florida, and we can see their impact. The darkest red counties on this map are Palm Beach, Sumter, St. John’s, Volusia, Citrus, Martin, and Collier. All have large and growing retiree populations, as many coastal Southern areas do. Sumter is home to The Villages, a massive retirement community.
4) Big cities, as they are everywhere, are getting better for Democrats. Dade County (Miami), Orange County (Orlando), Hillsborough County (Tampa), and Duval County (Jacksonville), all had large swings towards the Democrats, as did Broward County, which does not have one large city but has a large minority population.
5) Dade County deserves its own paragraph here. Home to America’s largest Cuban population, as well as a wealthy White population (many Cubans, of course, are White too) and an inner-city Black community common to essentially every large city outside the West, it has historically been purple but steadily gotten bluer as the Cubans have strayed from their Republican roots and newer immigrants from other parts of Latin America have entered the voting pool. In 2004, George Bush won Florida by 381,000 votes, losing Dade by 49,000. In 2012, Barack Obama won Florida by 74,000 votes, winning Dade by 208,000! A majority of Florida’s shift in the past eight years comes solely from Dade County! It’s really quite incredible. Orange County accounts for 28% of the shift, and Hillsborough accounts for 22%, both large as well (shifts rightward are negative numbers, so the numbers add up to 100% but adding up counties in a certain way can get you above 100%).
6) Mid-size areas without a lot of retirees swung leftward too, which is somewhat more surprising. Osceola County (Kissimmee) has a huge Puerto Rican population, so that’s not surprising. Pinellas County (St. Petersburg plus suburbs) has always been balanced, and their swing wasn’t all that huge. Seminole County (Orlando suburbs) and Polk County (Lakeland) are more troublesome for Republicans, as neither have large Black populations and both are still red counties. St Lucie County (Port St. Lucie/Ft. Pierce), Lee County (Cape Coral), and Brevard County (Merritt Island/Palm Bay) all pretty much swung as much as the nation, but the demographics there would, I presume, be better for Republicans than what they actually achieved. A few other areas saw almost no change from 2004: Sarasota County, Manatee County, Pasco County, Clay County, and the interior South Florida rural areas all showed this (another reason South Florida is different than the South is its few rural areas didn’t get more Republican).
7) Conclusions: Old people liked Republicans, non-Whites liked Democrats. No shock here, but yet still a lot to discuss. Now on to Georgia.
Georgia is an interesting state. Like the rest of the Deep South, it was blue until the Civil Rights Act and then went red federally, staying blue statewide until the 1990s, when it turned purple and finally red. It did give former Governor Jimmy Carter a massive home-state effect (he won every county!) in 1976 and still supported him in 1980. In the last 20 years, it has grown tremendously, with Sun Belt suburban growth similar to Dallas, Houston, Phoenix, or Los Angeles but also a steadily-increasing Black population and the South’s largest Hispanic population, excluding Texas.
Let’s examine the map.
1) The three black counties (on the map, not demographically) in the state are the three with the biggest shift leftward, mostly due to increased Black population growth but also increased turnout. DeKalb County is to Georgia what Dade is to Florida. Fully 60% of the state’s shift comes from this county. Kerry won it by 127,000; Obama won it by 274,000. Fulton and Gwinnett Counties are less important but still very significant; both had between two and three times the Democratic growth one would expect, rather than DeKalb’s 7.5 times. Add in the relatively small Rockdale County, and Georgia’s other 100+ counties actually were more Republican in 2012 than in 2004. It’s only those four counties that made the state bluer.
2) There is a huge divide between the inner suburbs and the outer ones. The inner counties (Fulton, DeKalb, and Clayton) had a 234,000 vote Democratic increase. The inner ring suburban counties, with equal population, had a 127,000 vote Democratic increase. The outer ring counties, with less population than either, had a 34,000 vote Republican increase.
3) The Atlanta suburbs have a Northeast-Southwest divide. This is hard to see on a normal election map, where most suburbs are red, but one can easily see it here. Both sides are growing, but one is getting redder and one bluer. Forsyth and Cherokee Counties had some of the biggest Republican gains in the country, increasing the GOP margin by 27,000 votes on their own.
4) North Georgia is unsurprisingly getting redder, uniformly with the exception of Dalton, a college town. This isn’t too surprising, as it’s heavily White, similar to other parts of Appalachia. But it’s easy to see here. We saw this all over the country.
5) South Georgia is a mixed bag. There’s a clear correlation between heavily Black counties and Democratic gains; the blue counties are generally the better ones for Democrats, but there are many exceptions. The population centers (Athens, Augusta, Columbus, Macon, Albany, Savannah, Valdosta, Lagrange and Warner Robbins) all got bluer.
6) Compare the southern border of Georgia with the northern border of Florida. The counties are pretty demographically similar, yet there is far more blue on this map. I’m unsure why; perhaps vigorous Democratic campaigning in 2000 and 2004 in Florida kept those Blue Dogs in the fold longer than their counterparts in Georgia, so there was more ability for votes to swing? I’d love the answer to this question.
So there you have it, two more states. Make sure to answer the poll.