--- This is Part 2 of a series of diaries that illustrate how the US could be divided into 100 equally populated states. Part 1, can be found here.---
This part covers much of the South-- Louisiana, Alabama, Tennessee, Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina.
32.1% Obama in 2008 (all political numbers are two-way unless otherwise specified)
31.4% Obama in 2012 (2012 Obama numbers are estimated from county-level results, but with high accuracy)
Spanning the coast of the Gulf of Mexico, this state would be solidly Republican-- and it would have been so for 50 years now. Unlike many other areas in the South, this area bolted against Democrats immediately after passage of the Civil Rights Act in 1964 and never looked back. Even Jimmy Carter, who swept the South against Gerald Ford in 1976, would have found himself in a very close race in this state that could have gone either way.
Rating: Safe R, although it is unclear to me who would win here. Probably Jeff Sessions, if he could get through the primary, which probably in the first years would be heavily splintered between favorite son candidates from the former state territories.
Capital: Baton Rouge?
42.9% Obama in 2008
43.7% Obama in 2012
This state takes in the Cajun areas of Louisiana, along with New Orleans. Like in much of the Deep South, Obama overperformed his 2008 showing here, although not by enough to be competitive.
Rating: Safe R presidentially. But Mary Landrieu has to like what she sees here-- Acadiana is more Democratic than Louisiana, and the areas that are willing to split tickets for a Landrieu are mostly contained in this state.
44.6% Obama in 2008
45.0% Obama in 2012
Although not completely isomorphic with the Black Belt, I couldn't think of a better name for this region. Although still a long way from voting for Democrats on a federal level, it is certainly the most Democratic area federally in the triangle between Orlando, Dallas and Atlanta. It wouldn't be shocking to see some local Democrats win here, although it's hard to imagine how the kind of Democrat who could (in other words, a white Democrat) would get through the primary election here.
Rating: Safe R presidentially. Toss-Up locally with someone like Bobby Bright, otherwise Safe R. Otherwise, I could see Martha Roby winning here.
36.0% Obama in 2008
34.7% Obama in 2012
This state takes in the metropolitan area of Birmingham (with the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa) and then goes up I-59 to Chattanooga. This isn't and has for a long time not been amenable territory for Democrats-- this area probably started to vote Republican in the mid-to-late 80s. And the 2012 results show that we haven't even hit rock bottom yet.
Rating: Safe R. If Shelby was interested, he could probably get another term from here, but at age 78 he might just retire and leave this to someone else-- like Robert Aderholt? Bob Corker also lives here, but it's doubtful that he'd have the political base to run here, given that former Tennessee territory makes up just about 12% of the state.
41.2% Obama in 2008
38.5% Obama in 2012
(Note: The state obviously follows county lines north of Chattanooga-- something just went wrong in cropping the screenshots together there).
This state takes in almost all of Central Tennessee, and then adds the Huntsville-Decatur metro area, which is culturally more similar to Appalachia than to the Deep South anyway. The state then extends as far east as Knoxville.
Bill Clinton would have won this state, twice-- in 1996 by less than a percentage point. But after that it would have been slim pickings for Democrats, although Phil Bredesen might well still have managed to be elected Governor here.
Rating: Safe R. Bill Haslam would probably make for a formidable candidate here.
Capital: Uh...no idea. This state is fascinating in that it is relatively dense compared to some other states, but still has no real city. Asheville probably would be unacceptable for such a conservative state. Maybe Morristown?
34.6% Obama in 2008
31.9% Obama in 2012
This might well be the state least likely to elect a Democrat, period. In Utah, you've had Democrats back in the 70s and 80s, and at least theoretically you could see a path for Matheson to victory. Eastern Tennessee has been Republican since the formation of the party, and has basically never voted for a Democrat. Northern Georgia is basically there now, even though it was, like much of the South, pretty friendly to Democrats up to the 1980s. Western North Carolina can theoretically be won by a Democrat with immense local appeal (like Heath Shuler proved), but it's impossible to be locally beloved everywhere from the Atlanta Suburbs to Asheville.
Even a Bobby Bright clone probably has a ceiling of 40% here.
Rating: Safe R. I'm unsure who would run and win here. Congressman David Price maybe? Lamar Alexander also lives here, but I doubt he could win a primary with a huge chunk of new constituents.
39.3% Obama in 2008
37.8% Obama in 2012
Safe Republican, this state would be dominated by the part that was formerly in South Carolina-- it is about two million strong to a million for the part that is in current Georgia territory. The South Carolina part also cast twice as many Romney votes as the Georgia part-- something that certainly matters for the primaries.
Rating: Safe R. Jim DeMint would be the prohibitive favorite here.
Capital: Charlotte (obviously)
46.1% Obama in 2008
45.0% Obama in 2012
This state takes in the metro of Charlotte on both the NC and SC sides of the border, padding it a bit as necessary to the outside.
Given how similar the racial demographics are to Southern Piedmont, it's interesting to see that Democrats do a little better here. While Democrats still don't stand much of a chance to be elected here, this state isn't all that conservative, especially socially-- it wouldn't be a huge surprise to see civil unions here at some point, for instance.
Rating: Likely to Safe R. Pat McCrory is the unambiguous alpha dog here.
48.3% Obama in 2008
47.4% Obama in 2012
This--Eastern North Carolina plus Horry County in SC-- is a state that would locally never have ceased to be Democratic, probably sporting a line of Democratic Governors up to this day, although it would have, like much of the South, voted against all Northern nominees since 1964 (it would have voted for LBJ, Wallace, Nixon, Nixon, Carter, Carter (by a very narrow margin), Reagan, Bush, Clinton, Clinton (by about 1,000 votes!), Bush, Bush, McCain, Romney).
2008 would certainly have seen Governor Perdue elected here as well, and who knows what would have happened in 2012.
Rating: Likely R Presidentially, Lean D locally. Democrats can and do still win locally in this area, as Mike McIntyre proved in 2012, hanging on in a district much more Republican than this state. In fact, much of the GOP bench in this state would consist of Walter Jones Jr., who could probably never get elected in a GOP primary for higher office. This area would likely elect a very conservative Democrat who is largely concerned about military-related pork.
56.0% Obama in 2008
54.6% Obama in 2012
The Triangle-Triad area never behaved terribly Southern, but it's been drifting away even more from its roots in the last couple of years. Historically, it has been much more Republican than the surrounding areas, voting for Nixon three times, for Reagan two times and against Clinton in 1996, but now it's turned around with a lot of influx from Northerners and the development of large urban minority populations, and as a stand-alone it would have been considered a likely Democratic state in both 2008 and 2012 even though it would have voted against John Kerry in 2004--in fact, its results patterns over the last four elections would have closely tracked New Mexico.
Rating: Likely D. Kay Hagan would be totally fine here.