In one of the DK Elections threads today, someone posted a list of 2013/2014 Senate/Governor races using existing PVI. I realized we already have enough information on hand we don't need to do this anymore.
PVI is, for those not in the know, determined by averaging together the results of the last two presidential elections, and comparing against the national swing that year. Thus for 2012, where Obama did around 4.6% worse on average than 2008, a state where his numbers declined by 3% could be seen as an improvement, as he held his losses lower than elsewhere, meaning compared to the nation at large, the state got a bit more Democratic.
Anyway, time for a trip around the U.S.
I'll start off with the unchanged states, running from most to least Republican:
North Dakota (R+10)
South Dakota (R+9)
Is there a pattern in the states on this list? To a certain degree. With one exception, these are states in the Midwest and the upper part of the west. There has been no great influx of immigrants into this region, and no dramatic changes in partisan fortunes. Even though Obama's vote share dropped a great deal across this region in 2012, it was basically reversion to what Kerry (if he had won by the same margin as Obama) would have gotten.
Florida is the only state with no shift elsewhere in the country. Here I would presume it is two different electoral effects canceling each other out, as the state itself has changed between 2004 and 2012. Perhaps the rising minority population has so far been counteracted by a shift in white voters away from Obama, in part because older, Democratic-leaning retirees continued to die off in large numbers.
Now let's look at the states that shifted to the Republicans. First, we'll look at one clearly identifiable cluster:
Oklahoma (R+19, was R+17)
Alabama (R+14, was R+13)
Arkansas (R+14, was R+9)
West Virginia (R+13, was R+8)
Kentucky (R+12, was R+10)
Louisiana (R+12, was R+10)
Tennessee (R+12, was R+9)
Missouri (R+5, was R+3)
This is the worst area of the country right now in terms of Democratic decline - the inland South/border states. Most of these were carried by Clinton in the 1990s. That said, they are turning against us, hard. Alabama only had a decline of 1%, as it has a large black population to offset the decline of the Demosaurs in the north of the state to some degree. The decline was 2% in Oklahoma, Kentucky, Louisiana, and Missouri, 3% in Tennessee, and a stunning 5% in Arkansas and West Virginia. I have little confidence in the future of the Democrats in these states in the near future. As it stands I expect we'll lose our remaining toeholds in governance in Arkansas, Kentucky, and most of our base in West Virginia by 2020.
Now, some oddball states with minor shifts towards the Republicans:
Utah (R+22, was R+20)
Wyoming (R+21, was R+20)
Arizona (R+7, was R+6)
New Hampshire (D+1, was D+2)
Pennsylvania (D+1, was D+2)
Massachusetts (D+10, was D+12)
Eliminating obvious cases first, the Utah result, and probably Wyoming, are due to Romney being on the ticket in 2012 and the Mormon vote. Massachusetts, and to a small degree New Hampshire, saw a boost in 2004 due to Kerry being at the top of the Democratic ticket that year. Thus these changes thus can probably be safely ignored.
Arizona is a bit of a concern, but there are a large number of outstanding ballots, which may lean a bit more Democratic than the state at large. Thus later updates may make there be no change, or even a slight improvement, to PVI.
That leaves Pennsylvania, which is probably my biggest concern, and not only because it's my home state. There is no doubt that the western part of the state is seeing the same shift to the right as the rest of Appalachia, outside of Allegheny County (Pittsburgh) and Erie County. However, this only makes up around a third of the state population, and it seemed the Democratic shift in the eastern part of the state, particularly the populous Philly suburbs, made up for it. It's no longer clear if that's the case following the 2012 election. Certain parts of the burbs are still moving our way (Delaware County for example) but others (like Bucks County) have stalled out. It may be that Romney was just a good candidate for convincing some of these socially liberal Republican voters to take another look.
Now to the fun stuff: States moving towards us! First, let's look at base states getting even more Democratic:
Oregon (D+5, was D+4)
New Jersey (D+6, was D+4)
Maine (D+6, was D+5
Connecticut (D+8, was D+7)
Delaware (D+9, was D+7)
California (D+9, was D+7)
Maryland (D+10, was D+9)
New York (D+11, was D+10)
Rhode Island (D+12, was D+11)
Vermont (D+16, was D+13)
Hawaii (D+20, was D+12)
Traditional Democratic states in the Northeast and West Coast are only getting bluer. It's hard to see how Republicans will compete in any of these any time soon on a federal level. Some outside factors may have played a role in a few cases, like Hurricane Sandy boosting Obama's numbers in NY/NJ/CT, and of course the home state factor in Hawaii.
What about swing states?
North Carolina (R+3, was R+4)
Virginia (EVEN, was R+1)
Colorado (D+1, was EVEN)
Nevada (D+2, was D+1)
Wisconsin (D+3, was D+2)
New Mexico (D+4, was D+2)
All of these are looking good. New Mexico barely counts as a swing state any more, and if current trends continue, within 8-12 years, none of the states on this list will be in serious contention.
Wisconsin is a bit of an odd duck here, as unlike the rest it isn't diversifying especially fast, and has gone to the Democrats since 1992. Still, Obama obviously did better here adjusting for national swing than John Kerry in 2004, who came very close to losing the state. Something comforting to consider even as we hate Scott Walker is the state is assuredly not moving away from us on the federal level.
Finally, there are the red states which have improved PVIs:
Nebraska (R+12, was R+13)
Alaska (R+11, was R+13)
Texas (R+9, was R+10)
Mississippi (R+9, was R+10)
South Carolina (R+7, was R+8)
Georgia (R+6, was R+7)
Indiana (R+5, was R+6)
First, the three oddballs.
Indiana's PVI is obviously still lifted artificially by Obama's stunning performance in 2008. That said, he still did better adjusted for national conditions this year than Kerry did in 2004, meaning there is a real, albeit small, shift to the left.
Alaska is also interesting, as there seems to have been a real shift to the left there in an incremental fashion. It has always had the fundamentals to be a Democratic state (high nonwhite population, high unionization, secular nature), but stays stubbornly Republican. After the weird Palin numbers drop out, it should initially settle into about R+8, giving us a good base to work it further to the left.
I'm not sure what to make of Nebraska, except that Obama's comparative popularity in the Omaha area seems real, although it flagged a bit in 2012 with the national swing away from him.
The rest of the states are all in the south, and have high populations of blacks and/or Latinos. They are all moving our way. That said, the are all moving slow as molasses. With a 1% shift every four years, it will take until 2036 for Georgia to have an EVEN PVI. And that's presuming in the post-Obama world we don't see enough of a dropoff in black support/turnout to stagnate things for awhile. I don't think we want to wait that long, so it will take real work to hit the tipping points in these states within the next 10-15 years.
Anyway, hope you have as much fun reading this as I did putting it together.