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--- 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.

Gulf Coast


Capital: Mobile?

74% White
19% Black

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?

62% White
30% Black
5% Hispanic

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.

Black Belt


Capital: Montgomery

60% White
35% Black

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.



Capital: Birmingham

75% White
18% Black
5% Hispanic

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.

Central Tennessee


Capital: Nashville

80% White
13% Black
5% Hispanic

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.

Central Tennessee


Capital: 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?

80% White
13% Black
5% Hispanic

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.

Southern Piedmont


Capital: Columbia

71% White
20% Black
6% Hispanic

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.

Greater Charlotte


Capital: Charlotte (obviously)

71% White
19% Black
7% Hispanic

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.

East Carolina


Capital: Fayetteville

64% White
25% Black
6% Hispanic

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.



Capital: Raleigh

54% White
23% Black
8% Hispanic

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.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Central Tennessee's capitol would likely (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    be Kingsport or Johnson City.  

    Liked the first diary, and this one is also interesting.

  •  Very cool, but what about Atlanta? (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    pistolSO, twohundertseventy

    Did you accidentally leave off the one Democratic state? ;)

    Ok, so I read the polls.

    by andgarden on Thu Dec 06, 2012 at 04:02:08 PM PST

  •  This is fun (3+ / 0-)

    I think you run into opposition when large stretches of a coast are assigned to a single new state. Every state would like to have a little coastline (although perhaps less so after Katrina and Sandy) but you effectively take the coast away in your Gulf Coast state from populations in Mississippi, Alabama and Florida that have been used to thinking of themselves as living in a state with a coastline. I understand the geographical coherence of making a coastal state, but you might be better off with some narrow north/south states rather than a single east/west state just to appease the coast lovers.

    I have a stake in this. I live in Los Angeles, about 15 miles from the sea. I'm not going to like having to enter the state of Santa Monica just to go to the beach.

    It will be interesting to see how you divide  New York City and Los Angeles County into multiple states, although with its borough system, New York has experience with a city subsuming what everywhere else are larger entities. Even so having one political entity -- the city -- encompassing a few states will make for some interesting jurisdictional tugs-of-war.

    Who has more power? The mayor of New York? Or the three governors and legislatures that are contained in the mayor's realm?

  •  Can't you just go in the other direction (0+ / 0-)

    and have about 20 States with roughly equal populations only with more Senators? I am a bit lost on the 100 States idea. Is it because of Hawaii and Alaska?

    For if there is a sin against life, it consists perhaps not so much in despairing of life as in hoping for another life and in eluding the implacable grandeur of this life. - Albert Camus

    by Anne Elk on Thu Dec 06, 2012 at 04:33:50 PM PST

    •  2 Senators per state in the Constitution. (0+ / 0-)

      100 states would double the number of Senators and presumably be more in balance with the demographics of America(the Senate is disproportionally rural)

      If we only had 20 States, we'd only have 40 Senators.

    •  Sure, but this is more fun to draw up, (0+ / 0-)

      and the idea is that in 100 states you'd also have more coherent socio-economic/geographic units. The Florida Panhandle doesn't have anything to do with Miami, for instance.

  •  Tipped and rec'd (3+ / 0-)

    Just because it's a fascinating gedankenexperiment. Also, you've obviously put a lot of work into it. It would never happen, of course, but it's interesting to think of 100 brand new state constitutions (imagine the floor fights!) and various fights over things like marriage equality or water rights.

    It looks like you mostly kept the county boundaries intact. I suppose you have to have a certain granularity.

    I'll be interested in seeing what happens to lightly populated states, like Wyoming (and what about Alaska and Hawaii?). I'd also like to see a map of the U.S. with the old state boundaries and the new ones.

    You should submit your map to Frank Jacobs at Strange Maps. Here's the link: Strange Maps.

    “If you misspell some words, it’s not plagiarism.” – Some Writer

    by Dbug on Thu Dec 06, 2012 at 04:53:54 PM PST

    •  Oh, I love strange maps. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Dbug, Alibguy

      This is a work in progress, but once I'm done drawing and diarying it, sure. And yeah, county boundaries are mostly kept intact. First because, yeah, it's much easier to think about it with counties as base-units, but then also because they're good pre-existing political boundaries that provide local government to people-- keeping them together is just good government.

    •  My thought for Alaska and Hawaii (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      was to just leave them alone, because it would be crazy to throw Hawaii in with, uh, San Diego, maybe, and Alaska with the West and North of Washington State.

    •  Wyoming, Idaho, Montana (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      and the Great Basin, plus New Mexico, parts of Colorado, Arizona, eastern California, and Nebraska, the Dakotas: without checking I'd say they're going to end up as just three or four humongous states.

  •  You said David Price when I believe (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    GoUBears, twohundertseventy

    you meant Tom.

    19, CA-18 (home), CA-13 (school)
    Socially libertarian, moderate on foreign policy, immigration, and crime, liberal on everything else.
    UC Berkeley; I think I'm in the conservative half of this city. -.5.38, -3.23

    by jncca on Thu Dec 06, 2012 at 05:35:08 PM PST

  •  Excellent timing! :P (4+ / 0-)
    Rating: Safe R. Jim DeMint would be the prohibitive favorite here.
  •  Re: Central/Eastern Tennessee (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    1) Central Tennessee would be called Middle Tennessee and Eastern Tennessee would be called East Tennessee. Tennessee is already divided into three parts, and those names would likely persist.

    2) The counties surrounding Davidson (particularly Williamson, Rutherford, Wilson, and Sumner) have strong ties to Nashville and belong with it. Unlike Cobb and Gwinnett, these exurban counties have friendly relations with Nashville and actually asked for light rail links to downtown.

    3) By contrast, the counties east of Crossville belong in East Tennessee. Knoxville in particular is considered the capital of East Tennessee, and it just looks odd seeing all those East Tennessee counties in a state without Knoxville or Chattanooga. Note that Nashville and Huntsville are Upland South, not Appalachian (there's a big cultural difference).

    4) Haslam would be Governor of your East Tennessee state with Knoxville added, but would most likely get teabagged if he tried to run for Senate or at all in Middle Tennessee.

    5) When you get to it, as many of the Tennessee counties west of the Tennessee River as possible belong with Memphis. That's West Tennessee, and if possible should be drawn with counties in the following regions:
    - Northern Mississippi
    - The Arkansas Delta
    - The Kentucky Purchase (Kentucky west of the Tennessee)
    - The Missouri Bootheel
    - Little Egypt (the southern tip of Illinois)

    Note that the Bootheel and Little Egypt are both Southern, not Midwestern.

    6) As before, I really like this series! I'm just providing a little local information on my home turf.

    Male, 22, -4.75/-6.92, born and raised TN-05, now WI-02. "You're damn right we're making a difference!" - Senator-Elect Tammy Baldwin (D-Wisconsin)

    by fearlessfred14 on Fri Dec 07, 2012 at 09:34:33 AM PST

    •  As for Lamar Alexander (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      the state you drew for him is just about ideal. It's blood red, but the primary electorate might actually be a bit moderate by Southern standards (this is a strange paradox in Tennessee politics). Yes, he's got new territory, but he's very much an Appalachian politician and could easily introduce himself to new Appalachian constituents.

      Male, 22, -4.75/-6.92, born and raised TN-05, now WI-02. "You're damn right we're making a difference!" - Senator-Elect Tammy Baldwin (D-Wisconsin)

      by fearlessfred14 on Fri Dec 07, 2012 at 09:40:34 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Good feedback! (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      1) Totally.

      2/3) I don't disagree, it's just still ripple effects from making Atlanta its own state-- Northern Georgia needed to go somewhere. So in effect what you're proposing is basically a Northwest shift: Give Nashville its suburbs, and in exchange give Knoxville to East Tennessee, and then I assume it mostly withdraws from North Carolina?

      Appalachian North Carolina could then go with the Southwestern tip of Virginia and such.

      5) Yeah, I had something like that in mind. I don't think all of these areas will go in there given that Shelby alone has a million people and my target population is a bit over three million, but that's going to be the definite underlying idea.

      6) Thanks!

      •  Re: 2/3 and 5 (0+ / 0-)

        2/3) That would work great. Appalachian NC has close ties to southwestern Virginia, and you could even go into WV/KY to make a south central Appalachian state. Note that you don't have to put the rural counties northwest of Nashville in Middle Tennessee, just the four I mentioned.

        5) I wasn't thinking all those areas go with Memphis, just giving ideas for what would be a good fit culturally speaking. Generally, Memphis is almost Deep South, but not quite.

        Male, 22, -4.75/-6.92, born and raised TN-05, now WI-02. "You're damn right we're making a difference!" - Senator-Elect Tammy Baldwin (D-Wisconsin)

        by fearlessfred14 on Fri Dec 07, 2012 at 11:47:14 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

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