At the start of the campaign some pundits and analysts predicted Donald Trump had the potential to reshape the political map. His appeal to blue collar workers but weakness among college grads could have put red states in jeopardy and blue states in play.
As the campaign wore on the standard assumption was Trump’s weaknesses outweighed his strengths. His strength among non-college educated whites couldn’t outweigh his struggles with typical GOP voters and college grads.
This meant the polarized nature of our elections was sure to continue. For example, from 2000 to 2004 only 3 states flipped from red to blue. In 2008 5 states flipped but from 2008 to 2012 only 2 states did (a record low from any prior Presidential election). But now that knowledge has been turned on its head.
Trump is leading in traditionally red states like AZ and GA, though not by much, dead even in NC but making gains in swing states that have proved elusive for the GOP in Presidential elections. Perhaps no two scenarios better illustrate this than ME-2 and Iowa.
Only once in the last six Presidential elections has a Republican carried Iowa. George Bush carried it narrowly in 2004. But, according to polls, Trump has a healthy lead in the state far surpassing bush’s margins in 04. He’s done it by taking advantage of favorable demographics in the state.
A new Pew report found the composition of the political parties has changed over the years. While Democrats have held steady among minorities and gained among college graduates they have dropped like a rock among non-college educated whites. Still, until recently, Iowa was consistently out of reach just as was ME-2.
Maine is one of only two states to to allocate all its votes by congressional district winner and Trump could be the first Republican to get an electoral college vote out of Maine since 1988. No Republican until this month had a prayer of pulling off such a feat.
Indeed, Trump’s appeal is so unique he can even win Nevada. Again, based off his strength among blue collar workers but also based off his strength among non-college educated whites.
Interestingly though, in the big three states of OH, FL and PA, Trump is seeing a drop in college grads support only in PA. Sure, Southern Florida and the Columbia suburbs are not friendly to Trump but his appeal in downscale suburbs is making a bigger impact. Racial demographics, Ohio is pretty darn white, as is Iowa and Northern Florida, are probably playing a bigger role in each state.
It is unclear whether Trump can keep this phenomenon up. It is even less clear whether this phenomenon is unique to Trump or signifies a permanent political shift. Indeed, Trump did not start this shift. Rather, globalization and an economic system leaving down-scale whites behind has. That, and government programs benefiting every group other than these voters has helped. But, one thing is clear. Trump is remaking the political map with all the good and bad that portends for his party.