Rethinking red states and blue states — in 1 map

February 1, 2013

Gallup is out with its latest annual rankings of which states are the most conservative and which are the most liberal.

Below is a heat map ranking the states according to the ratio of conservative voters to liberal voters.

A few things that caught our eye (and let us know what surprises you in the comments section):

1. Alaska: It's clearly a red state, but voters there don't consider themselves to be terribly conservative. In fact, there are more self-described conservatives in blue-leaning states like New Mexico and Pennsylvania than there are in Alaska, and Alaska has the highest population of self-described moderates (42.5 percent). President Obama actually did a few points better in the Last Frontier in 2012 than in 2008 -- one of very few places where that was true -- which suggests the state might be shifting politically.

2. New Hampshire: It may be a swing state, but relatively few voters there consider themselves to be conservative. In fact, its ratio of conservative voters to liberal voters ranks 36th out of 50 states.

3. The Dakotas: North and South Dakota are considered pretty politically analogous, but North Dakotans see themselves as being significantly more conservative than their southern neighbors. North Dakota ranks third in ratio of conservatives to liberals, while South Dakota ranks 18th. Still, that didn't stop North Dakota from electing a Democratic senator last year, Heidi Heitkamp.

4. Emerging swing states: New Mexico and Pennsylvania rank near the middle on the blue side, while Arizona and Kentucky (!) rank near the middle on the red side. In fact, the ratio of conservatives to liberals is less in Kentucky than it is in North Carolina, Missouri and even Iowa.

That's not to say that these states will be battlegrounds any time soon. New Mexico, for instance, has many Latino voters who consider themselves conservative but regularly vote Democratic, and Kentucky just went more than 60 percent for Republican Mitt Romney. But the numbers suggest Arizona and Pennsylvania are on the verge of being more competitive at the statewide level.

Here's the complete set of data:


Aaron Blake covers national politics and writes regularly for The Fix, the Post’s top political blog.
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