5 places where the 2012 election results taught us something

The name of the game in the 2012 election was status quo, with very little change from how states voted four years ago. In fact, only two states -- Indiana and North Carolina -- voted for a different party than in the 2008 presidential election.

But while there was pretty little change in the overall result, the shifts within all 50 states will be mined for clues about where they will be in future elections.


President Obama, Vice President Biden and family on election night. (Jerome Delay/AP)

We crunched the numbers, comparing the 2008 results to the 2012 results (see the data here, courtesy of the Cook Political Report), and came away with five areas where the numbers tell us something

* Florida: The swing state that shifted the least between 2008 and 2010 was the Sunshine State, which gave Obama 1 percent less of the vote than four years ago (ranking as the 12th most loyal state to Obama, compared to 2008). A large part of that, no doubt, is how Obama did among Latinos in Florida, increasing his vote share from 57 percent in 2008 to 60 percent this year, as Latinos jumped from 14 percent of the electorate to 17 percent. This is the first time since the 1940s, in fact, that Florida has gone Democratic in back-to-back elections. If this is indeed becoming a more reliable state for Democrats, that's a huge development, given that it's still the biggest electoral vote prize among the swing states.

* Wisconsin and Nevada: The GOP didn't come close to winning in either of these swing states, but it can afford to be a little optimistic in both. Wisconsin shifted four points for the GOP (the 10th biggest shift toward Republicans), while Nevada shifted three (the 17th biggest). They remain a little more on the blue side of the swing state spectrum, but they are surely swing states going forward. The rest of the swing states shifted about as much as the rest of the country, going 1 or 2 percent more for Republicans.

* The next-in-line states: Republicans are trying to put states like Pennsylvania and Michigan in play, while Democrats would very much like to do the same with Arizona and Georgia. And the results in all four states suggest things are headed in the right direction for that. Michigan experienced the 12th biggest shift toward Republicans, while Pennsylvania had the 19th biggest. And on the other side, Arizona was the 9th most loyal state to Obama, and Georgia was the 20th most loyal. 

* The West: While much has been made of the divide between North and South these days, it was the West that deserted Obama more than any other region. Among the eight states that shifted five points or more for Republicans between 2008 and 2012, six are west of the Mississippi River (Utah, North Dakota, South Dakota, Montana, Wyoming and Missouri) . And 12 of the 13 states that experienced the smallest amount of change were on the East Coast or in the South. (The one exception: Arizona.)

* The four states that like Obama more than four years ago: The Sarah Palin Effect? Alaska went 39 percent for Obama four years ago but gave him 41 percent this year. That margin may change, as it takes a while to count some of the more rural areas, but for now, it's the state that shifted the most toward Obama. Other states that increased Obama's share were New Jersey, which is currently dealing with the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, and two neighboring Southern states -- Louisiana and Mississippi.

Allen West's deficit grows: Rep. Allen West (R-Fla.) now trails his opponent by more than 2,100 votes after a recount of early votes in St. Lucie County.

West's legal team successfully pushed for a recount of the votes, without which West stood no chance. But after the recount, his deficit to Democrat Patrick Murphy actually grew.

With the deadline for certifying the result of the election passing at noon on Sunday, Murphy's campaign declared victory again. But West, whose legal options are limited now, isn't through.

"We will review the results of today's recount and the other available data to determune (sic) how to proceed," West said in a statement released by his campaign. "We look forward to the report which will be issued by the Secretary of State's auditors this coming week, which we hope will shed light on some of the outstanding issues."

Elsewhere in the House, Rep. Ron Barber (D-Ariz.) was declared the winner over Republican Martha McSally.

With Barber's and West's seats, Democrats would have a net gain of seven seats and would face a 234-200 GOP majority, with one race outstanding in Rep. Mike McIntyre's (D-N.C.) district.

Fixbits:

House Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Rogers (R-Mich.) suggests Obama might have known about the David Petraeus investigation before the election. But he acknowledged he doesn't have any evidence.

Petraeus lawyers up.

Obama is defending his decision to travel to Burma, saying that while the repressive government has made progress, he's not endorsing it.

Vice President Biden says Sandy victims have a "homeboy" in the White House who "gets it."

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) does SNL's "Weekend Update."

Twenty-five independent candidates were elected to state legislatures on Election Day -- the most since the 1940s.

Must-reads:

"GOP plots to prevent more Todd Akins" -- Manu Raju, Politico

"Future for Republicans is not so bad" -- Chris Cillizza, Washington Post

"Political comeback kids slated to take seats again in the House" -- Ed O'Keefe, Washington Post

"Back on Hill, Ryan Remains a Fiscal Force" -- Jennifer Steinhauer, New York Times

"In Wyoming, Conservatives Feeling Left Behind" -- Jack Healy, New York Times

Aaron Blake covers national politics and writes regularly for The Fix.

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Aaron Blake · November 18, 2012