Blue wall (politics)

"Blue wall" is a term used by political scientists and pundits to refer to 18 U.S. states and the District of Columbia that the Democratic Party consistently won in presidential elections between 1992 and 2012, thus establishing a significant advantage over the Republican Party in the electoral college. George W. Bush, the only Republican president elected during this time, was able to narrowly win the electoral college in 2000 and 2004 only by winning states outside of the blue wall.

During the 2016 presidential election, many political pundits speculated that the blue wall made Hillary Clinton a heavy favorite to win the electoral college.[1][2] However, Republican nominee Donald Trump was able to win victories in the three blue wall states of Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin as well as an electoral vote from Maine, a fourth blue wall state. Trump was consequently elected president with 304 electoral votes.

The term "red wall" is less-commonly used to refer to states Republicans have consistently won in previous election cycles. However, due to Barack Obama's significant 2008 win in the electoral college that included many previously Republican states, these states represent significantly less electoral votes than the blue wall. These terms refer to the colors traditionally associated with the Democratic and Republican Parties, respectively.

Blue Wall states 1992-2012 map
Blue wall states, 1992–2012. From 1992 to 2012, all these states voted for Democratic presidential candidates.

Creation of the term

Ronald Brownstein describes the blue wall as "the 18 states that form the blue wall, a term I coined in 2009"[3] After the 2012 presidential election, Paul Steinhauser called "blue wall […] the cluster of eastern, Midwest and western states that have traditionally gone Democratic."[4] The earliest description of the forces creating the blue wall comes from a Houston Chronicle blogger, Chris Ladd.[5] A Republican, Ladd wrote in November 2014 that the seemingly impressive Republican win in the 2014 mid-term elections had overshadowed another trend apparent in the results – a demographic/geographic collapse. The blue wall was a Democratic demographic lock on the Electoral College resulting from the Republican Party's (GOP) narrowing focus on the interests of white, rural, and Southern voters. Ladd's analysis became popular when MSNBC commentator Lawrence O'Donnell featured it on a post-election episode of his show The Last Word with Lawrence O'Donnell.[6]

A similar "red wall," behind which lie states solidly Republican, has also been posited to exist. But having fewer votes, it would be theoretically easier for a Democratic presidential candidate to win without breaching it. The Republican party has won just 13 states in each of the last 6 election cycles, totaling 102 electoral votes.

States behind the blue wall

Behind this "blue wall" lay states, many carrying a relatively high number of electoral votes, which appeared to be solidly behind the Democratic Party, at least on the national level, and which a Republican presidential candidate appeared likely to have to write off, seeking a total of 270 electoral votes from other regions. States behind this wall lay generally in the Northeastern United States, and the West Coast of the United States, and included some of the Great Lakes states. In each of the 6 presidential election cycles prior to 2016, the Democratic Party had won 18 of these states (as well as the District of Columbia), totaling 242 of the necessary 270 votes need to win. The "big three" Democratic stronghold states include California, New York, and Illinois.

States falling behind this blue wall generally included those the Democrats had carried since the 1992 presidential election until the 2016 presidential election[7][8] that included (in order of decreasing population and followed by current number of electoral votes): California (55), New York (29), Illinois (20), Pennsylvania (20), Michigan (16), New Jersey (14), Washington (12), Massachusetts (11), Maryland (10), Minnesota (10), Wisconsin (10), Oregon (7), Connecticut (7), Hawaii (4), Maine (4), Rhode Island (4), Delaware (3), and Vermont (3), as well as Washington, D.C. (3). The last time any of these states cast their votes for the Republican presidential candidate before 2016 was when George H. W. Bush beat Michael Dukakis in 1988 and carried California, Illinois, Pennsylvania, Michigan, New Jersey, Maryland, Connecticut, Maine, Delaware, and Vermont. New York, Washington, Massachusetts, Oregon, Hawaii, and Rhode Island (and Wisconsin before 2016) have voted Democratic since Ronald Reagan's landslide in 1984. One of these states, Minnesota, has not been carried by a Republican presidential candidate since 1972. (The District of Columbia has voted for the Democratic candidate in every election since it was admitted to the electoral college for the 1964 election.)

Red wall

Red Wall states 1980-2016 map
Red wall states, 1980–2016

The states which Republicans have won in the last 7 cycles include Texas (38), Alabama (9), South Carolina (9), Oklahoma (7), Mississippi (6), Utah (6), Kansas (6), Nebraska (4), Idaho (4), South Dakota (3), North Dakota (3), Alaska (3), and Wyoming (3), giving a total of 102 votes. States with a 6-out-of-7 Republican record include Georgia (16), North Carolina (15), Arizona (11), Indiana (11), and Montana (3) for a total of 158 electoral votes. Much of the Southern United States are probably safely Republican as well, as 6 other states from that general region have not voted for a Democrat since southerner Bill Clinton in 1996, and the Deep South is nearly solidly Republican in their senators and governors. In a Seventh Party System, it is possible many other states could join the red wall, especially states such as Kentucky and West Virginia, both of which have gone to the GOP in the last five presidential elections, with Kentucky voting Republican by at least 15 percentage points in each election and West Virginia giving Donald Trump his second-largest victory margin in 2016 (behind Wyoming).

Demise of the blue wall

Blue Wall fall
States that traditionally voted blue (Democratic), but voted Republican in 2016 are marked in red. Minnesota (a historic blue wall state), was won by Democrats by only 1.5% and Maine by 3% in 2016. Additionally, northern Maine gave the GOP one electoral vote.

The Democrats' "lock" on these states had been called into question prior to 2016, as several had been competitive in recent elections, and many had Republicans currently holding elected statewide office, generally either senator or governor.[9] Blue wall states with a Republican senator included Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, and Maine. Those with a Republican governor included Illinois, Michigan, Massachusetts, Maryland, New Jersey, Wisconsin, and Maine. In addition to these 18 states, three others, Iowa, New Mexico, and New Hampshire, had only voted for the Republican once in the same 6 election cycles, giving their votes to George W. Bush in either 2000 or 2004, whilst Oregon saw Bush lose by only 7,000 votes in 2000. If included in the total, the votes behind the blue wall numbered 257, just 13 short of what is needed to win. In 2016, the blue wall showed some cracks, and went down from 242 electoral votes to 195. Some in the mainstream media did, however, suspect the Democrats might lose Pennsylvania.

Nate Silver had criticized the idea of the blue wall, pointing to a larger "red wall" of states that voted Republican from 1968 to 1988. He argued that the blue wall simply represented a "pretty good run" in elections, and that relatively minor gains in the popular vote could flip some of its states to Republican.[10] This was seen in the 2016 election, where voters from manufacturing states traditionally behind the blue wall voted for Donald Trump, providing him the victory in Michigan, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, and Maine's 2nd congressional district.

In presidential elections

Presidential votes in blue wall states since 1876:

Year California Connecticut Delaware District of Columbia Hawaii Illinois Maine Maryland Massachusetts Michigan Minnesota New Jersey New York Oregon Pennsylvania Rhode Island Vermont Washington Wisconsin
1876 Hayes Tilden Tilden No election[a] No election[b] Hayes Hayes Tilden Hayes Hayes Hayes Tilden Tilden Hayes Hayes Hayes Hayes No election[c] Hayes
1880 Hancock Garfield Hancock No election No election Garfield Garfield Hancock Garfield Garfield Garfield Hancock Garfield Garfield Garfield Garfield Garfield No election Garfield
1884 Blaine Cleveland Cleveland No election No election Blaine Blaine Cleveland Blaine Blaine Blaine Cleveland Cleveland Blaine Blaine Blaine Blaine No election Blaine
1888 Harrison Cleveland Cleveland No election No election Harrison Harrison Cleveland Harrison Harrison Harrison Cleveland Harrison Harrison Harrison Harrison Harrison No election Harrison
1892 Cleveland Cleveland Cleveland No election No election Cleveland Harrison Cleveland Harrison Harrison Harrison Cleveland Cleveland Harrison Harrison Harrison Harrison Harrison Cleveland
1896 McKinley McKinley McKinley No election No election McKinley McKinley McKinley McKinley McKinley McKinley McKinley McKinley McKinley McKinley McKinley McKinley Bryan McKinley
1900 McKinley McKinley McKinley No election No election McKinley McKinley McKinley McKinley McKinley McKinley McKinley McKinley McKinley McKinley McKinley McKinley McKinley McKinley
1904 Roosevelt Roosevelt Roosevelt No election No election Roosevelt Roosevelt Parker Roosevelt Roosevelt Roosevelt Roosevelt Roosevelt Roosevelt Roosevelt Roosevelt Roosevelt Roosevelt Roosevelt
1908 Taft Taft Taft No election No election Taft Taft Bryan Taft Taft Taft Taft Taft Taft Taft Taft Taft Taft Taft
1912 Roosevelt Wilson Wilson No election No election Wilson Wilson Wilson Wilson Roosevelt Roosevelt Wilson Wilson Wilson Roosevelt Wilson Taft Roosevelt Wilson
1916 Wilson Hughes Hughes No election No election Hughes Hughes Wilson Hughes Hughes Hughes Hughes Hughes Hughes Hughes Hughes Hughes Wilson Hughes
1920 Harding Harding Harding No election No election Harding Harding Harding Harding Harding Harding Harding Harding Harding Harding Harding Harding Harding Harding
1924 Coolidge Coolidge Coolidge No election No election Coolidge Coolidge Coolidge Coolidge Coolidge Coolidge Coolidge Coolidge Coolidge Coolidge Coolidge Coolidge Coolidge La Follette
1928 Hoover Hoover Hoover No election No election Hoover Hoover Hoover Smith Hoover Hoover Hoover Hoover Hoover Hoover Smith Hoover Hoover Hoover
1932 Roosevelt Hoover Hoover No election No election Roosevelt Hoover Roosevelt Roosevelt Roosevelt Roosevelt Roosevelt Roosevelt Roosevelt Hoover Roosevelt Hoover Roosevelt Roosevelt
1936 Roosevelt Roosevelt Roosevelt No election No election Roosevelt Landon Roosevelt Roosevelt Roosevelt Roosevelt Roosevelt Roosevelt Roosevelt Roosevelt Roosevelt Landon Roosevelt Roosevelt
1940 Roosevelt Roosevelt Roosevelt No election No election Roosevelt Willkie Roosevelt Roosevelt Willkie Roosevelt Roosevelt Roosevelt Roosevelt Roosevelt Roosevelt Willkie Roosevelt Roosevelt
1944 Roosevelt Roosevelt Roosevelt No election No election Roosevelt Dewey Roosevelt Roosevelt Roosevelt Roosevelt Roosevelt Roosevelt Roosevelt Roosevelt Roosevelt Dewey Roosevelt Dewey
1948 Truman Dewey Dewey No election No election Truman Dewey Dewey Truman Dewey Truman Dewey Dewey Dewey Dewey Truman Dewey Truman Truman
1952 Eisenhower Eisenhower Eisenhower No election No election Eisenhower Eisenhower Eisenhower Eisenhower Eisenhower Eisenhower Eisenhower Eisenhower Eisenhower Eisenhower Eisenhower Eisenhower Eisenhower Eisenhower
1956 Eisenhower Eisenhower Eisenhower No election No election Eisenhower Eisenhower Eisenhower Eisenhower Eisenhower Eisenhower Eisenhower Eisenhower Eisenhower Eisenhower Eisenhower Eisenhower Eisenhower Eisenhower
1960 Nixon Kennedy Kennedy No election Kennedy Kennedy Nixon Kennedy Kennedy Kennedy Kennedy Kennedy Kennedy Nixon Kennedy Kennedy Nixon Nixon Nixon
1964 Johnson Johnson Johnson Johnson Johnson Johnson Johnson Johnson Johnson Johnson Johnson Johnson Johnson Johnson Johnson Johnson Johnson Johnson Johnson
1968 Nixon Humphrey Nixon Humphrey Humphrey Nixon Humphrey Humphrey Humphrey Humphrey Humphrey Nixon Humphrey Nixon Humphrey Humphrey Nixon Humphrey Nixon
1972 Nixon Nixon Nixon McGovern Nixon Nixon Nixon Nixon McGovern Nixon Nixon Nixon Nixon Nixon Nixon Nixon Nixon Nixon Nixon
1976 Ford Ford Carter Carter Carter Ford Ford Carter Carter Ford Carter Ford Carter Ford Carter Carter Ford Ford Carter
1980 Reagan Reagan Reagan Carter Carter Reagan Reagan Carter Reagan Reagan Carter Reagan Reagan Reagan Reagan Carter Reagan Reagan Reagan
1984 Reagan Reagan Reagan Mondale Reagan Reagan Reagan Reagan Reagan Reagan Mondale Reagan Reagan Reagan Reagan Reagan Reagan Reagan Reagan
1988 Bush Bush Bush Dukakis Dukakis Bush Bush Bush Dukakis Bush Dukakis Bush Dukakis Dukakis Bush Dukakis Bush Dukakis Dukakis
1992 Clinton Clinton Clinton Clinton Clinton Clinton Clinton Clinton Clinton Clinton Clinton Clinton Clinton Clinton Clinton Clinton Clinton Clinton Clinton
1996 Clinton Clinton Clinton Clinton Clinton Clinton Clinton Clinton Clinton Clinton Clinton Clinton Clinton Clinton Clinton Clinton Clinton Clinton Clinton
2000 Gore Gore Gore Gore Gore Gore Gore Gore Gore Gore Gore Gore Gore Gore Gore Gore Gore Gore Gore
2004 Kerry Kerry Kerry Kerry Kerry Kerry Kerry Kerry Kerry Kerry Kerry Kerry Kerry Kerry Kerry Kerry Kerry Kerry Kerry
2008 Obama Obama Obama Obama Obama Obama Obama Obama Obama Obama Obama Obama Obama Obama Obama Obama Obama Obama Obama
2012 Obama Obama Obama Obama Obama Obama Obama Obama Obama Obama Obama Obama Obama Obama Obama Obama Obama Obama Obama
2016 Clinton Clinton Clinton Clinton Clinton Clinton Clinton[d] Clinton Clinton Trump Clinton Clinton Clinton Clinton Trump Clinton Clinton Clinton Trump
Year California Connecticut Delaware District of Columbia Hawaii Illinois Maine Maryland Massachusetts Michigan Minnesota New Jersey New York Oregon Pennsylvania Rhode Island Vermont Washington Wisconsin
Key
Democratic Party nominee
Republican Party nominee
Third-party nominee

Bold denotes candidates elected as president

See also

Notes

  1. ^ The District of Columbia did not vote in presidential elections until 1964, after ratification of the 23rd Amendment to the United States Constitution.
  2. ^ Hawaii was not a state until 1959 and did not vote in presidential elections until 1960.
  3. ^ Washington was not a state until 1889 and did not vote in presidential elections until 1892.
  4. ^ Clinton won Maine's statewide vote, but Trump won one of the state's four electoral votes. Since the 1972 election, Maine has awarded two electoral votes to the winner of the statewide popular vote, with one vote going to the winner in each congressional district.

References

  1. ^ Goldmacher, Shane; Karni, Annie. "Hillary Clinton's path to victory". POLITICO. Retrieved 2019-02-17.
  2. ^ Seitz-Wald, Alex (2016-05-06). "Analysis: 'Blue Wall' Gives Trump Little Room for Error". NBC News. Retrieved 2019-02-17.
  3. ^ "Clinton's Campaign Is Focused on Battleground States She Doesn't Really Need - The Atlantic". www.theatlantic.com.
  4. ^ Editor, By Paul Steinhauser, CNN Political. "Holding Democratic 'blue wall' was crucial for Obama victory - CNNPolitics.com". CNN.
  5. ^ Chris, Ladd. "The Missing Story of the 2014 Election". Houston Chronicle. Houston Chronicle. Retrieved January 14, 2017.
  6. ^ "'The Last Word with Lawrence O'Donnell' for Monday, November 17th, 2014". News. NBC. Retrieved 2014-11-17.
  7. ^ Editor, By Paul Steinhauser, CNN Political. "Holding Democratic 'blue wall' was crucial for Obama victory - CNNPolitics.com". CNN.
  8. ^ "Breaking Democrats' 'Blue Wall'".
  9. ^ "Democrats say a 2016 electoral college "blue wall" means Republicans can't win. Wrong". 25 February 2015.
  10. ^ Silver, Nate (12 May 2015). "There Is No 'Blue Wall'". FiveThirtyEight. Retrieved 21 March 2016.

External links

Blue wall

Blue wall can refer to:

Blue wall (politics), a group of U.S. states previously thought to lean so strongly Democratic and with a high enough population to make future presidential elections difficult for Republicans until 2016

Blue wall of silence, a code among some police officers not to report misconduct by fellow officers, paralleling the "green wall" among prison correction officers

Red states and blue states

Since the 2000 United States presidential election, red states and blue states have referred to states of the United States whose voters predominantly choose either the Republican Party (red) or Democratic Party (blue) presidential candidates. Since then, the use of the term has been expanded to differentiate between states being perceived as liberal and those perceived as conservative. Examining patterns within states reveals that the reversal of the two parties' geographic bases has happened at the state level, but it is more complicated locally, with urban/rural divides associated with many of the largest changes.All states contain both liberal and conservative voters (i.e. they are "purple") and only appear blue/red on the electoral map because of the winner-take-all system used by most states in the Electoral College. However, the perception of some states as "blue" and some as "red" was reinforced by a degree of partisan stability from election to election—from the 2000 election to the 2004 election, only three states changed "color" and as of 2016 fully 38 out of 50 states have voted for the same party in every presidential election since the red/blue terminology was popularized in 2000.

The choice of colors reverses a long-standing convention of political colors whereby red symbols (such as the red flag or red star) are associated with left-wing politics and right-wing movements often choose blue as a contrasting color. Indeed, until the 1980s Democrats were often represented by red and Republicans by blue. According to The Washington Post, the terms were coined by journalist Tim Russert during his televised coverage of the 2000 presidential election. That was not the first election during which the news media used colored maps to depict voter preferences in the various states, but it was the first time a standard color scheme took hold; the colors were often reversed or different colors used before the 2000 election.

Swing state

In American politics, the term swing state refers to any state that could reasonably be won by either the Democratic or Republican presidential candidate. These states are usually targeted by both major-party campaigns, especially in competitive elections. Meanwhile, the states that regularly lean to a single party are known as safe states, as it is generally assumed that one candidate has a base of support from which they can draw a sufficient share of the electorate.

Due to the winner-take-all style of the Electoral College, candidates often campaign only in competitive states, which is why a select group of states frequently receives a majority of the advertisements and partisan media. The battlegrounds may change in certain election cycles, and may be reflected in overall polling, demographics, and the ideological appeal of the nominees. Election analytics website FiveThirtyEight identifies the states of Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio, Nevada, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and Wisconsin as "perennial" swing states that have regularly seen close contests over the last few presidential campaigns. Furthermore, FiveThirtyEight identifies a few more states that have recently emerged as more competitive battlegrounds over the last couple election cycles. These states are Arizona, Georgia, and Maine.

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