Pres-by-CD: Most Votes

Time for another installment in the slicing ‘n’ dicing of our presidential-election-results-by-congressional district dataset. One interesting thing I noticed (that has sort of a “well, duh” feel to it if you think about it for a minute) is that the districts that had the largest raw numbers of votes for Obama or for McCain were rarely the same districts that gave them the best percentages.

The raw vote numbers instead can point to a variety of factors: districts that experienced rapid population growth since redistricting, districts that started out the decade with high population (for instance, some at-large districts haven’t grown much, but have always been very big), districts in civic-minded states (like Wisconsin and Oregon) where turnout is always high, and low-income minority-majority districts (where, despite increased turnout for Obama, overall turnout is still comparatively low).

District Rep. Obama
District Rep. Obama
WA-07 McDermott 308,226 TN-01 Roe 75,255
PA-02 Fattah 298,834 AL-06 Bachus 74,657
WI-02 Baldwin 286,089 TX-08 Brady 74,545
NC-04 Price 275,205 NE-03 Smith 73,099
MD-04 Edwards 270,377 GA-09 Deal 70,366
CA-08 Pelosi 266,210 TX-29 Green 66,808
IL-02 Jackson 260,869 TX-19 Neugebauer 65,020
CA-09 Lee 260,662 AL-04 Aderholt 58,863
OR-03 Blumenauer 260,128 TX-11 Conaway 58,326
IL-07 Davis 255,470 TX-13 Thornberry 53,860

The biggest Obama vote totals tended to come in districts that don’t necessarily have the highest PVIs, but are the some of the most stereotypically “liberal” districts centered on mostly-white cities with left-leaning traditions (Seattle, Madison, San Francisco, Portland). Some of the more relatively affluent African-American-majority districts round out the list. (The lowest Obama totals did in fact come from the districts with the worst Obama percentages, with one big exception: TX-29, which Obama won easily, but has the fewest total votes of any district.)

District Rep. McCain
District Rep. McCain
FL-05 Brown-Waite 249,328 CA-35 Waters 27,789
WI-05 Sensenbrenner 243,597 CA-33 Watson 27,672
AL-06 Bachus 243,465 CA-31 Becerra 25,441
MT-AL Rehberg 242,763 NY-12 Velazquez 23,504
GA-03 Westmoreland 235,263 NY-06 Meeks 22,302
FL-01 Miller 234,185 NY-11 Clarke 20,709
FL-04 Crenshaw 233,446 NY-10 Towns 19,677
CO-06 Coffman 229,715 IL-04 Gutierrez 18,453
TN-07 Blackburn 229,068 NY-15 Rangel 14,954
FL-06 Stearns 228,651 NY-16 Serrano 8,437

The highest McCain vote totals mostly came in rapidly growing suburban districts that lean Republican (MT-AL is also here, simply by virtue of its size). Half of these districts are ones where Obama got at least 40% of the vote, so these aren’t necessarily the most right-wing territory (heh, except for AL-06). However, these are districts that will need to shed population with 2012 redistricting, so their Republican lean may leach out into currently neighboring districts. (The districts with the most pitiable McCain totals tend to overlap the districts with the highest PVIs.)

District Rep. Total
District Rep. Total
MT-AL Rehberg 491,092 TX-15 Hinojosa 167,821
FL-05 Brown-Waite 446,316 NY-16 Serrano 167,443
NC-04 Price 438,937 CA-43 Baca 164,830
CO-06 Coffman 437,740 CA-34 Roybal-Allard 142,774
WI-05 Sensenbrenner 421,962 CA-31 Becerra 142,662
WI-02 Baldwin 414,638 IL-04 Gutierrez 139,546
DE-AL Castle 412,412 AZ-04 Pastor 132,076
MN-06 Bachmann 412,408 CA-20 Costa 129,561
FL-06 Stearns 408,014 CA-47 Sanchez 128,277
FL-07 Mica 401,966 TX-29 Green 108,507

For context, here are the districts with the highest and lowest total number of votes. The districts with the greatest numbers of votes are mostly ones we’ve already seen, depending on whether they lean Democratic or Republican. The lowest totals are in Hispanic-majority districts, where citizenship and language barriers are at issue.

Pres-by-CD: Split Districts

Another topic in the slicing and dicing of our newly compiled presidential-election-by-congressional-district data: where are the split districts? In other words, which districts won by Obama have Republican representatives, and which districts won by McCain have Democratic representatives? (CQ already beat me to the punch on this particular question, but to give it a new spin, I’m arranging them in order of the districts’ three-way margin, which gives at least some relative sense of vulnerability.)

District Republican Obama
District Democrat McCain
LA-02 Cao 49.3 MS-04 Taylor 35.5
DE-AL Castle 25.0 TX-17 C. Edwards 35.2
IL-10 Kirk 22.8 OK-02 Boren 31.2
PA-06 Gerlach 16.6 TN-04 L. Davis 29.8
WA-08 Reichert 14.8 AL-02 Bright 27.4
IL-06 Roskam 13.2 ID-01 Minnick 26.6
PA-15 Dent 12.4 TN-06 Gordon 25.3
IL-13 Biggert 9.6 LA-03 Melancon 24.0
MI-06 Upton 9.5 MS-01 Childers 23.5
NJ-02 Lo Biondo 9.3 AL-05 Griffith 22.9
MI-11 McCotter 9.2 MO-04 Skelton 22.7
IL-16 Manzullo 8.5 AR-01 Berry 20.3
IA-04 Latham 7.5 VA-09 Boucher 19.1
OH-12 Tiberi 7.5 AR-04 Ross 18.8
MI-08 Rogers 6.9 MD-01 Kratovil 18.5
VA-10 Wolf 6.8 UT-02 Matheson 18.1
MN-03 Paulsen 6.4 WV-01 Mollohan 15.3
NY-23 McHugh 5.2 WV-03 Rahall 13.5
CA-45 Bono Mack 4.6 GA-08 Marshall 13.4
CA-50 Bilbray 4.2 TN-08 Tanner 13.3
FL-10 Young 4.1 KY-06 Chandler 12.2
CA-26 Dreier 4.1 PA-04 Altmire 10.5
WI-01 Ryan 3.9 AZ-01 Kirkpatrick 10.2
NJ-07 Lance 3.5 AR-02 Snyder 9.9
CA-24 Gallegly 2.8 FL-02 Boyd 9.7
FL-18 Ros-Lehtinen 2.3 ND-AL Pomeroy 8.6
MI-04 Camp 1.9 SD-AL Herseth 8.4
VA-04 Forbes 1.5 PA-10 Carney 8.3
NE-02 Terry 1.2 SC-05 Spratt 7.2
WI-06 Petri 1.2 OH-18 Space 6.7
CA-25 McKeon 1.1 AZ-08 Giffords 5.9
CA-44 Calvert 0.9 NC-11 Shuler 5.6
CA-48 Campbell 0.7 NC-07 McIntyre 5.6
CA-03 Lungren 0.5 AZ-05 Mitchell 4.5
IN-08 Ellsworth 3.9
MN-07 C. Peterson 2.7
OH-06 C. Wilson 2.7
OH-16 Boccieri 2.6
CO-03 Salazar 2.5
PA-17 Holden 2.5
VA-05 Perriello 2.3
NY-29 Massa 2.2
FL-24 Kosmas 2.0
NY-13 McMahon 1.8
IN-09 Hill 1.8
NM-02 Teague 1.3
CO-04 Markey 0.9
PA-12 Murtha 0.4
PA-03 Dahlkemper 0.006

There’s a definite tilt in the playing field that happened with 2008, compared with 2004: there are 34 Obama/R districts and 49 McCain/D districts. In the aftermath of the 2004 election, there were 18 Kerry/R districts and 41 Bush/D districts. The numbers have moved not only because Obama picked up a number of suburban districts that previously resided in the R+5 area (especially in places like California and Michigan), but also because of some inroads we’ve made at getting Blue Dogs elected in districts that were dark red in both 2004 and 2008. (Remember how the disparity in Kerry/R and Bush/D districts was part of the “permanent Republican majority?” They were going to slowly pick off all those Bush/D districts while, of course, we picked off nothing and the presidential bar didn’t move, either.)

I don’t want to cause your eyes to fall out by printing the whole 2004 list, so here’s the top 10 in each category (worth seeing if only to see what a swath we’ve cut through the moderate Republicans in the last four years):

District Republican Kerry
District Democrat Bush
IA-02 Leach 11.5 TX-17 C. Edwards 39.7
CT-02 Simmons 9.7 MS-04 Taylor 37.2
DE-AL Castle 7.6 UT-02 Matheson 34.7
IA-01 Nussle 6.5 MO-04 Skelton 29.0
PA-07 Weldon 6.1 ND-AL Pomeroy 27.4
CT-04 Shays 6.1 SD-AL Herseth 21.5
IL-10 Kirk 5.5 AL-05 Cramer 20.3
NH-02 Bass 5.0 VA-09 Boucher 20.2
FL-22 Shaw 4.9 TN-06 Gordon 20.0
PA-08 Fitzpatrick 3.4 OK-02 Boren 18.8

Pres-by-CD: The Margins

I’m going to be doing some slicing-and-dicing of our dataset of 2008 presidential election results by congressional district in the coming weeks. Let’s start out with some of the basics: the most Democratic and Republican-leaning districts, as well as the most narrowly divided districts. (I’m measuring this in terms of the three-way margin, rather than Obama or McCain percentage.)

State CD Member Party Obama % McCain % 3-way
NY 16 Serrano (D) 94.8 5.0 +89.7
NY 15 Rangel (D) 93.2 6.2 +87.0
NY 10 Towns (D) 91.0 8.7 +82.3
NY 11 Clarke (D) 90.5 9.1 +81.4
PA 02 Fattah (D) 90.1 9.5 +80.5
IL 02 Jackson (D) 89.7 9.9 +79.8
NY 06 Meeks (D) 89.0 10.7 +78.4
CA 09 Lee (D) 88.1 9.9 +78.3
PA 01 Brady (D) 88.0 11.5 +76.5
IL 07 Davis (D) 87.8 11.6 +76.5

State CD Member Party Obama % McCain % 3-way
CA 44 Calvert (R) 49.5 48.6 +0.9
CA 48 Campbell (R) 49.3 48.6 +0.7
CA 03 Lungren (R) 49.3 48.8 +0.5
PA 03 Dahlkemper (D) 49.3 49.3 -0.006
NV 02 Heller (R) 48.8 48.8 -0.03
OH 14 LaTourette (R) 49.1 49.4 -0.2
PA 12 Murtha (D) 49.1 49.5 -0.3
MI 03 Ehlers (R) 48.7 49.2 -0.5
CO 04 Markey (D) 48.7 49.5 -0.9
FL 25 Diaz-Balart (R) 49.2 50.2 -1.0

State CD Member Party Obama % McCain % 3-way
TN 01 Roe (R) 28.8 69.8 -41.0
TX 19 Neugebauer (R) 27.4 71.9 -44.6
OK 03 Lucas (R) 27.2 72.8 -45.6
LA 01 Scalise (R) 25.7 72.7 -47.0
TX 08 Brady (R) 25.5 73.8 -48.2
TX 11 Conaway (R) 23.7 75.5 -51.7
GA 09 Deal (R) 23.5 75.3 -51.9
AL 06 Bachus (R) 23.3 75.9 -52.6
TX 13 Thornberry (R) 22.7 76.5 -53.83
AL 04 Aderholt (R) 22.5 76.3 -53.84

Were there any changes in these lists from 2004? Not much change in the most Democratic 10: the only one falling off the list is CA-08 (which was the only white plurality district in the top 10), replaced by IL-07. Four districts get swapped into/out of the most Republican 10: KS-01, UT-01, NE-03, and UT-03 (the second reddest district in 2004) fall off the list, while OK-03, TN-01, LA-01, and AL-04 move on. In fact, AL-04, a toxic mix of Birmingham exurbs and the southernmost tip of Appalachia, moves up from only the 14th most Republican district in 2004 to the single reddest district in 2008.

There’s no overlap between the 2008 and 2004 closest districts; the closest district in 2004 was IA-03. Here’s one more figure that tells the story of the two elections, though: IA-03 in 2004 was the 180th most Democratic district in the country. PA-03 in 2008, on the other hand, was the 243rd. (In other words… Kerry won 179 districts. Obama won 242 of them.)

Decoding the Districts

If you’ve been poring over the presidential results-by-congressional district data that we’ve compiled, you’ve probably noticed that there are a whole lot of districts that flipped from being won by Bush in 04 to Obama in 08 (64 of them, to be exact), and only one that flipped from Kerry to McCain. That’s interesting enough, and other analysts have already delved into that… but I decided to look at one more data point, and also factor in what the district did in 2000.

When I start talking about districts in terms of them being “GBM” or “BBO” or “GBO” it may sound like I’m talking in terms of genetic code. I’m using those as shorthand for how the district performed in the last three elections: being won by Gore/Bush/McCain, or Bush/Bush/Obama, for instance. In a way, though, we are very much talking about the genetic code for each district, because each of these classifications reveals a lot about what kind of political ecosystem the district is located in.

Over 80% of all House districts are either Bush/Bush/McCain or Gore/Kerry/Obama; not so interesting. I’m concerned with the remaining 75 districts. Many of them aren’t what you’d traditionally think of as swing districts, but rather red districts in blue states that got pushed along by Obama’s strong performance in those states. Time will tell whether these become the “new” swing seats, or if they fall back as the blue wave passes. These fall largely into the “BBO” category:

Bush/Bush/Obama: CA-03, CA-11, CA-24, CA-25, CA-26, CA-44, CA-45, CA-48, CA-50, FL-08, FL-18, IA-04, IL-06, IL-08, IL-11, IL-13, IL-14, IL-16, IN-02, KS-03, MI-01, MI-04, MI-06, MI-07, MI-08, MI-09, MI-11, MN-01, MN-03, NC-02, NC-08, NE-02, NH-01, NJ-07, NY-19, NY-20, NY-23, NY-24, OH-01, OH-12, OH-15, OR-05, TX-23, TX-28, VA-02, VA-04, VA-10, VA-11, WA-03, WI-01, WI-06, WI-08

You can see a couple different trends here, primarily previously-Republican-leaning suburbs in states where Obama cleaned up (California, Illinois, Michigan, and Wisconsin) or where it was closer but he made a big push (Virginia, Ohio, Florida). There are also a fair number of rural Michigan districts here as well, pointing toward McCain’s more general collapse in that state.

There are also a few of the most conservative Hispanic-majority seats that finally cracked, and a few formerly red districts in midwestern cities that benefited from heavy Dem targeting (IN-02, NE-02). There are also a few rural northeastern Rockefeller Republican seats in New York and New Hampshire where patience with today’s GOP seems to be finally exhausted. Finally, I see at least three seats where I would wager that Dukakis actually beat Bush I, but where Democratic fortunes started to wane in the mid-90s until the recent rebound (IA-04, OR-05, and WA-03).

Gore/Bush/Obama: CA-18, CA-47, FL-10, GA-02, GA-12, IA-03, NJ-02, NJ-03, NV-03, NY-01, TX-15, TX-27

Among the “GBO” districts, there’s a mix of several things. There are more Hispanic-majority districts, where Bush’s attempts at Latino outreach in 2004 may have helped him eke out a win. There are some northeastern suburban seats where Kerry didn’t play very well (partially but not entirely explained by the 9/11 effect, perhaps). There are a few Georgia districts where paltry African-American turnout may have harmed Kerry, and finally some of the most knife’s-edge swing districts of all (FL-10, IA-03, NV-03), where Gore’s slightly better overall nationwide position vs. Kerry seemed to make the difference.

Bush/Kerry/Obama: NC-13, OR-04, TX-25

See a commonality here among the “BKO” districts? These are three districts dominated by college towns (Raleigh, Eugene, Austin) but with conservative surroundings. In OR-04 and TX-25, a lot of that may have to do with a strong Nader effect depressing Gore votes (and in Texas, a favorite son effect boosting Bush). Interestingly, Nader wasn’t on the ballot in North Carolina in 2000, meaning that this shift is probably based on demographic changes in the Research Triangle as liberal whites from elsewhere move in.

Gore/Bush/McCain: AR-01, AR-04, NJ-04, NY-03, NY-13, TN-08, WV-03

There are two clear sub-groups among the “GBM” districts: some of the most Dem-friendly districts (and ones that would be particularly responsive to favorite sons Clinton or Gore) in the Appalachian arc finally falling through the floor. And some of the most socially conservative districts in the New York metro area, where the 9/11 effect was especially pronounced and still seems to linger… but where Gore also seemed to overperform.

Gore/Kerry/McCain: PA-12

The lone “GKM” district, as I’ve discussed before, is one that’s trending away from us because of, more than any other reason, mortality. Former unionists who formed a strong Democratic core in the collar counties around Pittsburgh are dying off rapidly, leaving a mix of their economically dislocated and culture-wars-susceptible descendants, and new exurban residents. This brings us to the last possible permutation: the Bush/Kerry/McCain district… and there ain’t no such beast.