Gallup has a new poll out on party affiliation, and the results are pretty astonishing:
"All told, 29 states and the District of Columbia had Democratic party affiliation advantages of 10 points or greater last year. This includes all of the states in the Northeast, and all but Indiana in the Great Lakes region. There are even several Southern states in this grouping, including Arkansas, North Carolina, and Kentucky.
An additional six states had Democratic advantages ranging between 5 and 9 points.
In contrast, only five states had solid or leaning Republican orientations in 2008, with Utah, Wyoming, Idaho, and Alaska in the former group, and Nebraska in the latter.
The most balanced political states in 2008 were Texas (+2 Democratic), South Dakota (+1), Mississippi (+1), North Dakota (+1), South Carolina (even), Arizona (even), Alabama (+1 Republican), and Kansas (+2 Republican).
That is pretty astonishing given there was talk of a permanent Republican majority recently. Nate at 538 has a good discussion of the poll, and some important facts to know about exactly what was done and what it all means. The poll was of adults, not likely voters, and included independents and which way they tend to lean. However, the most important fact he mentions is that since the Democratic party is so diverse:
"...it tends to include a miscellany of groups that don't always see eye-to-eye with one another (African-Americans, Hispanics, coastal liberals, union workers, young voters, etc.), is that it is more difficult to harness the entirety of that coalition in national elections. A Democratic presidential candidate from the North might have trouble appealing to voters in the South. A candidate from the South might have trouble appealing to voters in the North and West. A theoretic 'generic Democrat' might have a chance at a rather large majority -- but a 'generic Democrat' is an abstraction, and most real Democrats will offend the sensibilities of some or another region."
It is also worth considering that a lot of anti-Republicanism has grown from the last 8 years, so it is safe to assume some of that blue is not so much pro-Democrat as it is anti-Republican. The Republicans have been theocratic of late that they have driven many of us away who otherwise have great sympathy for their small-government, low taxation, free market message. The Sarah Palin nomination was the embodiment of this problem.
But the biggest concern for the GOP has got to be the fact that they just got beat by a guy who had the biggest strike against him available among the oft-squabbling Democratic factions: being black. Several estimates of the cost of Obama's race hovered around 6-7% of the popular vote. Now note the blue states above that Obama did not win: Oklahoma, Arkansas, Louisiana, Missouri, Tennessee, West Virginia, and Kentucky. Few are known for racial harmony, and would likely have voted for a white Obama. So as bad as it seems at first glance for the GOP, it is actually worse.
In some ways this should be encouraging to those of us who want more accountable government and political parties. The Republicans had a majority of Americans on their side, but many of us changed over time in response to what they were doing. That is how it should be. Concrete political allegiances doom Democracy.