The Incredible Shrinking GOP

Cartagram by Mark Newman showing the relative strength of the Democratic and Republican vote.

The results of Tuesday’s election, in which Republicans failed of their two principal goals, and indeed lost ground even in the House, indicate that the GOP is in danger of becoming a minority party.

The cartogram above, one of a series of maps created by Mark Newman of the University of Michigan to show the real strength and distribution of the popular vote, depicts the limits of the GOP’s popular appeal.

While the Republican party continues to command the allegiance of bands of Americans in southern and land-locked western states, these states are not particularly populous.  In the more heavily populated and cosmopolitan areas of the United States, the Democratic Party under Barack Obama is consolidating its hold.

Voting strength of Democrats and Republicans by county, with purple showing county-level mix

Moreover, many of the counties that the Republicans managed to win Tuesday are actually divided and could readily swing back the other way.  In the county-level map above, only the streaks that are pure red and reddish can be regarded as Republican strongholds.

The Republicans in denial

Interestingly, the Republican leadership seems incapable of grasping the fact that its positions and values are increasingly out of step with those of the nation.  John Dickerson of Slate, appearing on Washington Week on Friday, described the Romney-Ryan campaign’s illusory anticipation of victory: it simply couldn’t imagine there being enough Americans to support the President, though numerous polls had shown that support for him was holding and building.  A contempt for the whole of the electorate, and an inability to embrace its diversity, spelled doom for Republicans in the 2012 campaign.

Look for Republicans to continue to grasp at procedural, legal, monetized, and PR-based tactics to sustain the illusion that they remain a formidable party.  In fact, unless the Republican Party dramatically transforms itself, renounces extremism, and embraces diversity and moderation, its showing will be even weaker next time.

Click here to view all of Mark Newman’s maps and learn more about what they mean.

What If They Can’t Take the Capital? September 2012.
A Great White Nation of Self-Made Men, September 2012.
Moment of Truth for the GOP’s Conservative Wing, August 2012.
Should Leaders Who Can’t Govern Their Party Govern the Country? June 2012.
Is the Republican Party Dying? March 2012.
2008: The Critical Election That Wasn’t (Part II), January 2012.
Parties Made New: Our Critical Elections February 2012.

6 responses

  1. Pingback: Is the Republican Party Dying? « Our Polity

  2. Yes, the GOP just has not grasped the fact that they are out of step with mainstream America. They lost this election, which is proof–and lost even when the unemployment rate was high. Obama won reelection with the highest unemployment rate of any sitting president since FDR–still the GOP couldn’t capitalize. The GOP needs to become more moderate and welcoming to all minority groups.

    • Sam, I agree that the GOP needs to learn toleration–I loved what David Brooks said: the Republican Party needs to learn what every corporation and institution in American has learned already: that diversity is a good thing, and it’s here to stay. I find it fascinating that the areas of the country that are most heavily Republican are parts of the old Confederacy.

      The Republicans need a new conservative vision that better fits the times.

      Good hearing from you!

  3. Nice post, Susan. I love Newman’s maps, which I first discovered in 2008. There’s so much more that could be done with mapping these election results. More from a cultural, historical-geographic perspective, I would love to know more about the concentrated pockets and ribbons (much of Mississippi River, for example) of blueness and redness.

  4. KW–It’s possible that if you charted post Civil War migration from the South, you would find that many from the Old South live in the red areas now. I read a fascinating article by Richard Florida a few months back suggesting that gun violence (highest in the South and West) may actually be rooted in the old honor culture of Southern duelling. It’s dangerous when ideological difference begins to line up with geographic boundaries–culture is probably still the main threat to a constructive federalism.