Friday, November 16, 2018

The 2018 midterms, the American Nations and Washington Monthly

I have an expanded version of my American Nations-powered analysis of the results of 2018 midterm election here in the U.S. over at Washington Monthly. Please check it out.

For past electoral analysis in this vein, you may also be interested in:

The rural vs urban divide and the American Nations in the past three presidential elections, in the New York Times and, with data tables and such, at Medium.

The 2016 presidential election and the American Nations, including the hows, wheres, and whys of how Donald Trump succeeded where Mitt Romney and John McCan failed (at the Portland Press Herald.)

The 2013 Virginia governor's race and the American Nations.

The 2012 elections and the Republican problem in Yankeedom (Maine Sunday Telegram)

The 2012 primaries and the American Nations.

The 2011 off-year election and the Tea Party's problems at Washington Monthly.


Tuesday, November 13, 2018

The 2018 midterms and the American Nations

For the past week, readers of American Nations have been asking for an analysis of the midterm elections via the underlying regional cultures identified in the book, which defines our regions based on early colonization patterns and argues that they are and have always been proto-nations. If you’re unfamiliar with the paradigm, you’ll find a good digest here, a quick summary here, and the actual book here.)

With most of the contests resolved, the bottom line is clear: the 2018 midterms exhibited the same regional patterning we’ve long seen in presidential contests, and represents a hardening of regional divides.


argued after the 2016 contest that Donald Trump owed his narrow Electoral College victory to his ability to make gains in the Midlands and rural Yankeedom via very un-Republican communitarian promises he made on the campaign trail: government would rebuild infrastructure, revive US manufacturing, protect entitlements, and replace ObamaCare with something providing better coverage at lower cost. I predicted his failure to keep any of those promises would cause these “Trump Democrats” in places like the Upper Mississippi Valley, upstate New York, and rural Maine to revoke their support of him. His failure to condemn white supremacists, anti-semites, and xenophobes would further consolidate opposition to him in New Netherland (the Dutch-founded area around New York City), El Norte (the Spanish-settled parts of the southwest) and Tidewater (which has been rapidly transforming into something resembling the culturally pluralistic immigrant society of the Midlands.) 

Last week, this is precisely what happened.

At this writing, the Democrats appear to have flipped at least 35 US House seats, and nearly half of them (16) are districts in Yankeedom, the Midlands or straddling the two, including expansive (read: not urban) places like Iowa’s first and third districts, Yankee New York’s 22nd, and, almost certainly once Ranked Choice Voting there is completed, Maine’s white, Maine-2, which voted for Obama twice before giving Trump one of the Pine Tree State’s Electoral College votes. Of the remaining pick-ups, 12 were in El Norte, New Netherland, Left Coast and Tidewater. Just two were in the Far West and three in the Deep South. Greater Appalachia – the largest “nation” in the country with a population of nearly 60 million – netted just one.

In statewide contests, Democrats faced heartbreak in close races across Greater Appalachia and in the Deep South, including the Indiana, Missouri, Tennessee and Texas Senate contests. That there may have been an effort to steal the Senate and governor contests in Georgia and Florida via voter or vote counting suppression only reaffirms a shameful Deep Southern tradition.  By contrast, their pickups were in states controlled by Yankeedom and/or the Midlands (gubernatorial contests in Maine, Michigan, Wisconsin, Illinois, Kansas) and El Norte (New Mexico governor), plus two in Far West (Nevada Senator and governor) -- a region I’ve argued is primed for partisan realignment – and one in a state straddling El Norte and Far West (Arizona Senate.)

Where did Democrats flip state legislative chambers? In Maine, New Hampshire, Connecticut and Minnesota – all Yankeedom -- New York (Yankeedom/New Netherland) and Colorado (Far West again.) Now state legislative control maps almost perfectly to the American Nations fissures. The 30 state houses Republicans fully control include every single state that is dominated by Deep South and Greater Appalachia, plus most of those in the Far West. Sixteen of the 18 state houses Democrats run are Yankeedom (including every chamber in New England), the Midlands, New Netherland, Left Coast and El Norte; the remaining two (Nevada and Colorado) are Far West. Today, only Minnesota has divided government.

At multiple levels of government, the partisan and American Nations maps have become more closely aligned than ever, largely because the parties are more ideologically oriented than ever. Notice the only real exception to partisan sorting involves a species now extinct in Congress: genuinely moderate Republicans of the old Eisenhower/Rockefeller variety that once held sway across Yankeedom. These endangered creatures – the white rhinos of American politics – easily won reelection to the governor’s mansions in Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Vermont, and Maryland.

These are encouraging signs for Democrats in 2020, in that they all point to decisive net Electoral College gains for them over the 2016 map. But they’re yet another ominous sign for the survival of our awkward federation, a place where regional divides have become frighteningly acute.

[Update, 11/16/18: I have an expanded version of this analysis up over at Washington Monthly.]





Wednesday, November 7, 2018

Talking American Nations and the midterms on KABC Los Angeles


While Americans were voting, I rejoined Peter Tilden at Los Angeles' talk radio mega station KABC to discuss American Nations, American Character, and the implications for the midterms. Our conversation is available online as a podcast here. (See the Nov. 6, 2018 link.)

My prediction came true: Democrats made substantial gains in the US House in Yankeedom and the Midlands, flipping seats in Iowa, Minnesota, Pennsylvania, upstate New York, northern Illinois and (likely) Maine. Their other gains at this hour were almost entirely in Tidewater, El Norte, New Netherland and the Far West.

I was last on KABC in February 2017.

Enjoy the show and thanks again to Tilden and producer Joe Armstrong for having me on.