Sunday, November 25, 2012

ELECTION 2012: State-by-state changes in party I.D.

While national partisan identification may have shifted 1 point from the 2008 election to the 2012 election, that spread wasn't consistent everywhere. Some states saw larger shifts than others, usually in favor of the Republicans, but certainly not always. Nationally, 38% of voters identified as Democrats (down 1 pt from 2008), 32% identified as Republicans (same as 2008), and 29% identified as Independent (also, same as 2008).

Below is a chart showing the shift in national party ID per state since 2008. Note that some states are missing due to the "National Election Pool's" decision to cut back on exit polling in 2012 as a cost saving measure. As a result, on 31 states featured exit poll results, as opposed to all 50 states in 2008.

red = states where GOP improved their NET party ID from '08; blue = states where DEMs improved NET party ID from '08 
regular font color = no change from 2008

Out of the 31 states where exit polls were conducted, Republicans saw improvements in their NET partisan identification in 16 of them, Democrats saw improvements in 12 of them, and there was no change in 3 of them. Republicans also saw percentage decreases in 20/31 states, while Democrats saw percentage decreases in 21/31 states.
Note that Democrats saw their largest percentage drop in partisan identification in Arizona, where the share of the Democratic vote went from 32% to 26% from 2008 to 2012. However, Romney was only able to increase his winning vote margin by 1%. That's because while Democratic party I.D. dropped 6% in Arizona over four years, Republican identification dropped 4% during the same time. Of course, this allowed Independents to see the largest percentage increase of any party in any state (jumping 30 to 39% from 2008 to 2012). Romney carried this group against Obama 51-45%.

Democrats saw their second largest decrease in partisan identification in Montana, where Obama's share of the total popular vote also dropped from 47 to 42%.  Democrats made up 33% of the electorate in Montana in 2008, but only 28% in 2012. 

Republicans saw their largest decline in Minnesota, where their numbers dropped from 36% to 31% in 2012, despite the Romney-Ryan ticket cutting Obama's winning margin in the state from 10.2 to 7.7 pts. The GOP's second largest decline in partisan I.D. came in Arizona, where both the Democrats AND Republicans saw big drops in their numbers

In terms of net partisan I.D., the Democrats saw their biggest gain Colorado, where the Republicans NET party I.D. went from R+1% in 2008, to D+4% in 2012. The large shift towards voters self-identifying as Democrats in Colorado over the last four years is peculiar in light of the fact that Romney reduced Obama's '08 winning margin in the state from 9 to 5 pts. The Republicans largest NET gain in party I.D. was a three-way-tie between Missouri (D+6 to even), Montana (even to R+6), and New Mexico (D+16 to D+10). 

Top 5 states with largest NET shift in party ID from 2008 to 2012:

       State                 Net shift in party ID

1.    Missouri                    6 points

1.    Montana                    6 points

1.    New Mexico              6 points

2.    Colorado                    5 points

2.    North Carolina          5 points

3.    Maine                        4 points

3.    Massachusetts            4 points

3.    Minnesota                  4 points

4.    California                   3 points

4.     New York                  3 points

4.     Pennsylvania             3 points

4.     Washington               3 points

5.     Arizona                      2 points

5.     Connecticut                2 points

5.     Illinois                        2 points

5.     Kansas                        2 points

5.     Maryland                    2 points

5.     Michigan                     2 points

5.     New Jersey                  2 points   

5.     Oregon                        2 points

5.     Vermont                      2 points

5.     Wisconsin                    2 points


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