I would like to make the argument that the United States is no longer, as we are constantly told, a center-right country.
I started thinking about this after being at a friends house and picking up a book on their end table, Voting in American Elections
Dean Burnham. Flipping through it I came across the theory of electoral realignment, and from there I found myself reading up on the subject in the
past few days. It's some pretty interesting stuff, if you're into political science and history.
Secondly, I'm one of those baseball fans that loves not only the game but the statistics and analytics, as well. To put that long story short, that
is how I first heard of Nate Silver and PECOTA. When he moved into politics, I continued to follow his work at FiveThirtyEight. In the past two
Presidential elections his predictions were correct in 99 of 100 states, he was wrong on only Indiana in '08 and the state was decided by less than
30,000 votes and 1.03%, and correct on 66 of 68 Senate races. That's a 98.2% accuracy, which is ridiculous. I only bring this up to point out the
accuracy and veracity of polling, particularly when drawing conclusions from a broad array of polls.
So, I'd like to first point out a general trend in Presidential elections over the past 40 years. In this graph blue represents Democrat, red
represents Republican, green represents all votes for any 3rd party, and the black points are the electoral turnout percentage:
Point 1: Keep in mind the effect that a genuine 3rd party candidate has had in particular years. In 1980 John B. Anderson garnered 6.6% of the
national vote (Anderson's is also a very interesting story). In 1992 and 1996 Ross Perot garnered 18.9% and 8.4% of the national vote, respectively.
In 2000 Ralph Nader garnered 2.7%. These are, of course, just the leaders of the 3rd party pack which is present in small percentages in every
Point 2: The 1976 election of Jimmy Carter is out of place in the general trend. But remember that this is the Presidential election which followed
Watergate and one Richard Milhous Nixon's resignation.
Point 3: Electoral turnout and demographics. Of eligible voters who have yet to register, 83% are made up of citizens 18 to 29 years old, unmarried
women, Latinos and African Americans. All of whom tend towards Democrat. Essentially, the more people that vote the higher the disparity of votes
between the parties. This is a long term trend that is accelerating.
Just for another view of the data, here's a table of the last 11 Presidential elections and the vote percentages for the two parties:
I believe the trend is clear and we've recently passed the tipping point within the last decade.
Further, issues which most commonly divide Democrats and Republicans like abortion, gay marriage, the death penalty, gun control, religion, and global
warming have been trending Democrat.
Following the 2012 election Republican House leadership claimed they had received a mandate from the American electorate. But neither the results or
the actual votes show this. Although Republicans hold a majority in the House they lost 29 seats. Americans cast 59,646,195 (49.2%) votes for a
Democratic candidate versus 58,283,047 (48.0%) votes for Republican candidates. The Senate races, due to terms not coinciding like they do with the
House, are harder to draw any conclusion from. That being said, Democrats received nearly 48 (53.7%) million votes versus roughly 38 (42.8%) million
for Republicans. In the 2008 Senate races we see nearly those same percentages 53.1% versus 45.4%.
Returning to electoral realignment, we may have begun in recent years the trend into a primarily Democratic government. If the theory holds, this
Democratic majority may last anywhere from 30 to 65 years before we begin to see it trending back in the other direction.
One thing I had thought fairly odd was the trend in State Governors. Currently there are 29 Republican, 20 Democrat, and 1 Independent. Democratic
Governorship has had a high in the last 40 years of 36 in 1976 and a low of 18 in 1996 and 2000. (To clarify, I only looked at Presidential election
years since this was not a part of my main point. Governor elections don't necessarily coincide with Presidential elections.) But, even though there
are only 20 Democratic Governors the trend appears to be upward from the mid-90's.
As for mid-term elections the voter turnout is always significantly lower then Presidential election years and as I previously stated, the higher the
turnout, the more Democratic the votes become. During mid-term elections the voting population is older, more religious and whiter as a whole. The
reasons for this are an entirely different topic and would require an entirely new post.
So that's the conclusion I've come to. We are now a center-left country and will likely continue to be for the next several decades. The reasons for
this are numerous. Chief among them is our changing national demographics and the inability of Republicans to appeal to these growing groups. Unless
otherwise linked, my statistical information has been sourced from both Politico and Ballotpedia and tediously entered into spreadsheets. (I suppose
if someone wanted to see tables and tables of numbers I could find a way to make them available.)