(3) OK then, it’s all about regions. In presidential elections, Republican totally dominate in an L-shaped swath of 26 states that runs horizontally through the South and vertically through the Great Plains and Mountain West. In 2004, President Bush carried the popular vote in this “L” by 58 percent-42 percent and the electoral votes by 232-0.
The Democrats, meantime, control the West Coast and the Northeast. In 2004, Mr. Kerry carried these regions by 55 percent-44 percent and their electoral votes by 194-5.
Yet there are limits to this rigid regional determinism. Some of the bluest states (California, New York, Massachusetts) have GOP governors, just as some of the reddest states are led by Democrats (Montana, Virginia).
And in many states, the urban-suburban-rural split is at least as important as the regional divide. In 2004, Mr. Kerry won seven states (Illinois, Michigan, Minnesota, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Washington and Wisconsin) by generating a big enough margin in the state’s biggest city to overcome a sizable deficit in the rest of the state.
(4) It’s all about W. There’s a “perfect storm” that acts as a multiplier on all the polarizing factors listed above — and its name is George W. Bush.
A Pew Research Center public opinion survey earlier this summer found 88 percent of Republicans approved of the job Mr. Bush is doing as president, while 76 percent of Democrats disapproved. None of the other two-term presidents of the modern era were so polarizing. The comparable figures for President Nixon at this stage of his second term were 67 percent approval from Republicans and 65 percent disapproval from Democrats; for President Reagan, 87 percent approval from Republicans and 50 percent disapproval from Democrats; for President Clinton, 84 percent approval from Democrats and 58 percent disapproval from Republicans.
Presidents who win second terms usually in some aspect of their leadership style or policy agenda cut across cultural, ideological or regional divisions. Mr. Bush hasn’t governed that way. He has staked out a conservative posture on virtually all major domestic and foreign-policy issues.
Pew’s polling last year found Mr. Bush’s assertive leadership in the war on terror the single most important reason for his victory in a high-stakes, high-turnout election. But the polling also found that Mr. Bush’s going to war in Iraq made red places redder and blue places bluer.
Ten months later, as public support for the war recedes across the board, the county is still where it was last Nov. 2: a portrait in red and blue, led by a divider, not a uniter.
Paul Taylor is vice president of the Pew Research Center and editor of “Mapping the Political Landscape: 2005,” from which this commentary is drawn. The book can be read at pewresearch.org.
By Jay Sekulow
The left's outrage over the IRS turns to a plea to 'move on'
Independent voices from the TWT Communities
News and opinion from a Millennial Urbanite with Southern sensibilities,
Politics and pop culture from the perspective of an independent hip-hop conservative
Positive propaganda for a nation in peril.
Al Maurer provides a common sense, conservatarian, Constitutional conservative perspective from the battleground state of Colorado
World's Ugliest Dog Contest
Spelling Bee finale
Marines train Afghan soldiers
Rolling Thunder 2013
Benghazi: The anatomy of a scandal