2000 - 2004 Partisan Index trends and What They Mean

I posted this in the thread on Our New Base, but I thought I would make a diary since the post was pretty long.  Basically, I've examined the partisan index for the 2004 election and computed some short term trends since 2000.  As usual, there is some good news and some bad news, but the good outweighs the bad, in my opinion.  More below the fold...
The Good News
In the short term, this election cycle we gained signficantly in the West and Upper Northeast.

Western States
Here we have made important gains and some not-so-important ones.  The important gains are in WA, OR, NV, and especially CO.  WA and OR were moved firmly into our column and should be safer in future election cycles.  NV has been pushed from lean R to true tossup for future cycles.  Colorado is continuing to trend our way since a poor showing by Clinton in 96.  It is now just a slight lean to R but may continue in our direction.  The gains in states like MT, ID, AK, etc are not particularly important because the Republicans still have a huge partisan advantage there, but it may suggest some Western libertarian types abandoning the GOP.

State  Partisan Index Change Since 2000 (+ = shift to D)
MT +8
AK +7.8 (Alaska, not Arkansas, people get confused)
OR +7.2
CO +5.3
ID +5.0
SD +4.9
NV +4.6
WA +4.3
WY +3.9
ND +3.8
CA +2.1
NM +1.9

Upper Northeast
New England continues to move toward solid blue.  With the exception of NH, it is now solid.  You have to remember that ME, VT, and NH used to be some of the most solidly Republican states in the country.
VT +14.0 !
ME +6.5
NH +6.3

Other states that took a shift to the left were DC (can it get any bluer?), MN (perhaps it's not trending away from us?), OH (I think this is a blip based solely on a poor economy), WI (again still seeing strength in the Upper Midwest), NC (Edwards or demographics?), and VA (demographics are slowly making it more competitive, still leans R).  

The Bad News
Actually the bad news isn't all that bad for us.  While we did lose in several regions, most of these losses were in states which were already so red or so blue that they didn't switch.  This is why Chris is showing us as having such an increase in our "base" states.  Our losses occurred in two primary places: The Deep South and what I call the "9/11 states".  

Deep South
We continue to lose ground here.  In fact, there's not much ground left to stand on.  GA, LA, and TN are no longer in reach except in a total blow out (15% or more) while most of the other states were already lost.  AR is one of the only southern states that remains anything near to a swing state but is now more out of reach than Virginia which may be a pick up in upcoming elections.
AL -7.2
TN -6.8
LA -3.3
GA -2.4

The 9/11 States
I think it's clear why we lost ground here, and it will probably/hopefully only be temporary but it does show that this analysis has some merit because we expecting these losses.  These states are so blue that the losses will not put them into play in a close election.
NJ -6.0
RI -4.8
NY -4.1
CT -3.6
DE -2.0

Other states that took a noticeable shift to the right were: Hawaii (I still don't understand this one), OK (red getting redder), WV (no longer a swing state), NE (see OK), IN (see NE), KS (see IN), and FL had a slight shift to the right, which hopefully is only temporary due to GOP turnout successes there.

There are a few states I was disappointed about.  I'm disappointed in AZ which actually moved slightly to the GOP.  I'm not sure what happened there this year, but I thought we would have a significant improvement over 2000.  We need to make inroads there; the state is growing extremely quickly.  I'm also disappointed in NC and to a lesser extent, VA, because while we gained in both states, I was hoping for larger gains.  VA is now just a R leaning state and could be in play in the future, but NC is still way too far right to go blue in a close election unless something drastic happens there in the next couple of years.

I'm enthused about most of the West though, where I think the Dems can begin to build a good base for future election cycles (plus the states are large and the map looks nicer with more blue).

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