In the Non-South, Dem Numbers Ain’t so Bad

We’ve all heard, even from folks that are supposedly sympathetic to liberalism, about the dire state of the Democratic Party all over the country. In the South (which for our purposes is the 11 Old Confederacy states and Kentucky) there’s a lot of truth here.

In the South, the GOP controls 8 of 12 governorships, 20 of 24 Senate seats, 87 of 137 Congressional seats, and the state legislatures of the South breakdown as follows: 5 Democrat, 5 GOP, 2 split. Bush won the EVs here 161-0. Florida was the only state where Bush’ margins were not over 5%.

Except for Adlai Stevenson in 1956 (52%) and Truman in 1948 (50%) Democrats have never won the southern white vote since 1944. Except for Carter in 1976, Democrats have never won the total southern popular vote since 1960 (when JFK won 75% of the black vote, most of which was still southern based). Aside from LBJ (45%) and Carter 1976(47%) Dems have not won 40% or more of the southern white vote since 1960. Clinton only averaged 35% of the southern white vote in 1992-96, just 3% more than Mondale and Dukakis in 1984-88.

What of the other 38 states (and the District of Columbia)? What was their take on the Democrats in 2004? From the numbers, they responded pretty well to the Dems. More importantly, there’s lots of room (and possibilities) for Democratic growth here.

Electoral Votes: Kerry beat Bush 252-125 in the NonSouth. He won 60% of the popular vote in the West, 56.4% in the NorthEast, and only lost the MidWest by about 2% (mainly because of the highturnout in safe GOP states like Kansas, Nebraska, and the Dakotas. Except for Arizona, West Va., and Missouri, all the battleground non-southern states were close (5% margin or less). West Va. has a long history of voting to re-elect the incumbent by large margins, while Arizona is the home of popular Bush cheerleader John McCain. Even so, both the Dems AND the GOP listed Arizona as a battleground state. Only in Missouri can it plausibly be argued that the Kerry campaign, and/or the Democrats, seriously misfired. The EVs totals by regions ar as follows: NorthEast- Kerry 117-0, West- Kerry 77-47, MidWest-Bush 78-58 (this could’ve been won had Kerry won either Missouri or Ohio, or both Iowa and West. Va.

The Senate: Dems have 41 NS Senate seats to the GOPs 35. In the West, its GOP 15-11 but in the Midwest its 15-13 Democrat, and in the NorthEast its 15-7 Democrat. There are also good chances for growth in Senate seats in Montana, Missouri, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, and maybe Nevada, Ohio, and Arizona. The only Dem state that might be lost is Nebraska.

The House: in the NS, its a GOP advantage, but only 145-143. The Midwest is a big part of that. Western Congressman are 53-45 Democrat while Northeastern ones are 47-35 Democrat. In the Midwest, the GOP has a 65-43 advantage, mainly because of rural areas, in particular Iowa (4-1 GOP US delegation) and Ohio (12-6 GOP). While the GOP has a majority of the Congress delegations from Indiana (7-2), Kansas (3-1) Nebraska (3-0) Oklahoma (4-1) and closer margins in Missouri (5-4) and Michigan (9-6). the Dakotas are both 1-0 Dem, while West Va. is 2-1 Dem. Illinois is 10-9 Dem (it was 10-9 GOP before the 2004 election). Wisconsin and Minnesota are both split 4-4.

State Legislatures: nationally, because of Dem pickups there are 3,658 GOP legislators to 3,656 Dem legislators, and 18 independents (7 in Vermont). Nationally, Dems control 20 SLs (including DC) GOP also has 20, 10 are split, while Nebraska’s is unicameral and nonpartisian. Dems had a net gain of 60 legislative seats and a net pickup of 3 legislative chambers. Here the problem is actually the MidWest, not the South. South- 5 Dem, 5 GOP, 2 split. West- 5 Dem, 5 GOP, 2 split. NE- 8 Dem, 2 GOP (NH and Pa.), and 2 split (Del., NY). MidWest: 2 Dem, 8 GOP, 3 split, 1 non-partisan.

Governors NS: GOP 20-18, nationally 28-22. This is a pickup of one seat from pre-2004. Dems have done a good job of winning governorships in NS GOP states (Kansas, Oklahoma, Montana), GOP leaning states (Arizona), tossups (West Va., Iowa, and somewhat to strongly Dem swing states (NH, Oregon, Mich. Wisconsin, Pa.). Moral of the story: blue states get your act together. Safe Dem states like Hawaii, California, NY, Vermont, Massachusetts, RI, and (my homestate) Maryland ALL have GOP governors. If Kerry voters in these states would vote for the same party in gubernatorial elections as in presidential ones, the GOP advantage in governors would be gone. Period.

So 2004 saw growth for Dems in the NS with more gold mines still to be mined there. Lets go get the gold.

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About Nick

Teacher of Social Studies. Born in the 1970s. History major, music minor. Big Baseball fan. Economic progressive.
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15 Responses to In the Non-South, Dem Numbers Ain’t so Bad

  1. marco says:

    “Lets go get the gold. ” I’m down with that! Great analysis Nick!

  2. Ginny in CO says:


    Great post. Aside from the gold in those numbers, some of the Southern vision people need to look at what it is in the culture that makes us the bad guys. Is it still “the South will Rise again” or has it morphed into something newer?

  3. florida dem says:

    Nick –
    Good stuff. I’d love to know what you do for a living, or are numbers just a hobby for you?

    I watched the last five minutes of Tweety Matthews’ show this a.m. and of course he brought up his favorite subject – Does Hillary stand a chance in 08? Tweety has been squawking about this since, at least, early 2004. As much as he hates Bill, he can’t get enough, can he? Anyway, he actually agreed with one of his panelists who said Hillary didn’t stand a chance in a general prez election because she wouldn’t pick up any red states that were lost in 2004. In fact, they said, she probably would lose some of the red rural areas in places like Pennsylvania that Kerry actually won. I was floored they actually admitted this. Of course next week Tweety will be back beating the Hillary 08 drum, but it was good to hear. So after this was said, Tweety says something like, “So it looks like Warner.” So I guess Mark Warner is the one to watch. He’s a fairly telegenic guy. He’s a red state Dem, but can he bring a longtime red state like VA into the blue column? Possibly, but it’s not a shoe-in. A person’s vote for Congress or Governor is very different than their vote for president. Warner is DLC I believe and has made some very opportunist comments lately so he’ll have some warming up to do to appeal to the Dem base. Of course, in my mind there’s no choice between him and Kerry as Kerry has far more experience, wisdom and knowledge. But as we have all learned, general election presidential campaigns are not about the best candidate for the job, it’s all about the marketing effort behind the candidate. Should be interesting.

  4. Nick

    Awesome first post! I threw this up and ran out the door to spend the day with family. Thanks so much!

  5. Nick says:

    Thanks for putting this up so quickly. I really appreciate it.

    I’m a history teacher for a living, majored in history and minored in music in college. I find in reading and teaching history that there are lots of stories behind the myriad of statistics that are thrown at us in schoolbooks and the news.
    I’ve been a big baseball fan my whole life, which for most fans invovles an analysis of statistics. Looking back, I can see I basically took my love of baseball statistics and did the same thing for politics, I still love baseball (can’t believe the Orioles have fallen this far this quickly).
    AS for Tweety: Just thought you should know he was once a speechwriter for President Carter. After Carter was defeated in 1980, he wnet to work for Massachusetts Liberal (and Speaker of the House) Tip O’Neill. Hard to believe, huh? Now he’s gone waaaay to the right.
    Of course, Matthews (like many journalists) would love Hillary to run: she’s socially liberal, economically conservative, (like many journalists)and guarantees BIG ratings. As much as the media grilled Bill, its interesting how they never investigated the growing gap between rich and poor on Clinton’s watch. This is NOT because they are “the liberal media.” The great thing about the Clinton’s, from the media’s perspective, is they allowed rich journalists, to feel money grubby without guilt. As opposed to making more money under Reagan or the Bushes, who are Republicans and journalists wonder if they are only benefitting because the “party of the rich” is in power.
    Of course, Warner would also enable journalists in Washington to do what’s gotten to be more than a hobby for them: kissing “centrist” southern (expleitive deleted). I swear if I hear another superficial Washingtonian say that Dems need to nominate a southerner in order to win I’m going to scream. See, my post on the WaPo making you sick.

  6. Nick, Florida Dem

    About Tweety… I was not aware he was a speech writer for Carter. Interesting fact. I’m not sure he has so much gone the way of the right, but that perhaps he has simply fallen into the Noise Machine trap.

    JK told a story about Tweety when he was on Leno Nov 03. He a Tweety are good friends, it seems.

  7. Nick

    Your other post is up! Keep it coming!

  8. florida dem says:

    Yeah, I knew Tweety worked for Carter and the great Tip. Tweety is definitely a Shrub lover. The only time he’s harsh on him is over the war and he seems to have suddenly become much more pro-war in the past few months.

    BTW…I LOVE history too. I’d rather read an historical biography over fiction any day. Truth is stranger than fiction.

  9. Ron Chusid says:

    Notice that when Democrats make it in the media, they try to appear nonbiased, and often bend over backwards to be favorable to conservatives.

    On the other hand, conservatives in the media rarely make a similar attempt at fairness.

  10. Ron Chusid says:

    To continue my above post, this is partially due to network pressure in attempts to compete with Fox. I’ve read that MSNBC would pressure people who had a liberal on the show to “balance” it with a greater number of conservatives than liberals.

  11. Nick says:


    Yeah I’ve noticed the same thing. What you said about MSNBC is not surprising. Except for Olbermann, all the hosts of the shows on MSNBC are pretty right-wing to say the least. Well, I guess its not all bad. At least this way I’m less tempted to watch more television and rot my brain (what better way to rot your brain than watch right-wing TV?). I knew the right-wing was good for something, and I think I just found it.
    But why is MSNBC trying to outdo Fox right-wing baloney? Trying to outdo fox in this area is like trying to out-libertine Hugh Hefner, its just not gonna happen.

  12. I’m so glad I don’t have cable! I catch the occassional video’s of these idiots online and avoid the rest.

  13. Nick says:


    I don’t think its “The South is Gonna Rise Again,” but an expression of southern conservatism that has always been there. Sure there is still some anti-northern feeling that the GOP exploits whenever the Dem nominee is not southern. Still, white southerners had no problem giving a majority of their votes to Goldwater over Johnson, both Ford and Reagan over Carter, and giving more of their votes to Dole over Clinton. The GOP can correct me if I’m wrong, but last time I checked Texas, Arkansas, and Georgia were southern states while Kansas, Michigan, and especially California were not. So I think its more of an anti-liberal or anti-progressive bias than an anti-northern one, or maybe they thought that these Dems were northern liberals in disguise as southerners.
    Even when the South was voting for FDR they were sending Congressman and Senators to Washington, the majority of whom were OPPOSED to most of the New Deal, including FDR’s VP John Nance Garner. Most of FDR’s progressive legislation passed before the election of 1938, when GOP gains were enough to reinvigorate the GOP-Southern Democrat coalition that blocked lots (but not all) of progressive legislation. In 1961, Teddy White estimated that of the 101 southern Congressman, 56 of the 101 opposed virtually all the New Frontier (thank god JFK I was an extraordinary politician and thank you for southern populism and liberal Republicans).
    These southern conservatives think liberals are detorying the values that make this country great (I know its bullshit, but its how they feel). These southern conservatives are also anti-labor, anti-government, and anti-tax.
    This is not new, many southern Dems felt the same way. The economics of the south has often been conservative, but there is an even more conservative cultural conservatism that has often trumped any populist economics.
    What has changed since the 1960s and 1970s is that while the south has gone to the left on racial issues, it has gone even further to the right on almost everything else. The old southern populism that was never a majority but often a sizeable minority is not even a semi-sizable minority anymore. This populism gave us foks like LBJ, Jimmy Carter, Ralph Yarborough, the Gores, Calude Pepper, and Congressman Ben Jones (Cooter of “the Dukes of Hazzard” fame). The GOP (with the aid of the Christian Coalition in the VERY religious South) has convinced many moderate to conservative voters that voted for Democrats that they if they wanted to kep on voting conservative, they should vote for the party that was truly conservative. The question was, do you southerners still feel comfortable with conservatism? The answer was anything from Yes to HELL YEAH. Sure the most right-wing rhetoric gets tamed down, and nobody, not even in Mississippi, gets elected promising to “keep the n&%$ers in their place.” But the conservatism on almost every other issue outside of race, has gotten even more powerful since the 1970s, to the detriment of southern populism, and the country.

  14. Nick says:

    I know most people probably caught on to this, but just to make sure folks understand my shorthand: JFK I (or one) refers to President John F. Kennedy. JFK II (or two) refers to John F. Kerry.

  15. Nick says:


    Should have been “Kerry won 50% of the vote in the West