Blue wall (politics)

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"Blue wall" is a term used by some political analysts and pundits referring to the theory that in Presidential elections in the United States, the Democratic Party has, in the past few cycles, established such an advantage in many states that the electoral map makes a Republican victory an uphill battle from the start. Behind this "blue wall" lie states, many carrying a high number of electoral votes, which appear to be solidly behind the Democratic Party, at least on the national level, and which a Republican candidate would likely have to write off, seeking a total of 270 votes from other regions. States behind this wall lie generally in the northeast, and west coast, and include some of the Great Lakes states. In each of the past 6 election cycles, the Democratic Party has won 18 of these states (as well as the District of Columbia), totaling 242 of the necessary 270 votes need to win.

A similar "red wall," behind which lie states solidly Republican, also exists, but having fewer votes it is easier for a Democratic candidate to win without breaching it. The Republican party has won just 13 states in each of the last 6 election cycles, totaling 102 electoral votes.

The term "blue wall" and "red wall" refer to the colors associated with the Democratic and Republican Parties, respectively.

States behind the blue wall

States falling behind this blue wall generally include those the Democrats have carried since the 1992 election,[1][2] and include (in order of decreasing population): California, New York, Illinois, Pennsylvania, Michigan, New Jersey, Washington, Massachusetts, Maryland, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Oregon, Connecticut, Hawaii, Maine, Rhode Island, Delaware, and Vermont, as well as the District of Columbia. The last time any of these states cast their votes for the Republican candidate was when George H. W. Bush handily beat Michael Dukakis in 1988, and several of them go back to Ronald Reagan's landslide in 1984. One of these states, Minnesota, has not been carried by a Republican presidential candidate since 1972. (The District of Columbia has voted for the Democratic candidate in every election since it was admitted to the electoral college for the 1964 election.)

The Democratic "lock" on these states has been called into question, as several have been competitive in recent elections, and many have Republicans currently holding elected statewide office, generally either senator or governor.[3] Blue wall states with a Republican senator include Illinois, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, and Maine. Those with a Republican governor include Illinois, Michigan, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Maryland, Wisconsin, and Maine. In addition to these 18 states, three others, Iowa, New Mexico, and New Hampshire, have only voted for the Republican once in the same 6 election cycles, giving their votes to George W. Bush in either 2000 or 2004. If included in the total, the votes behind the blue wall number 257, just 13 short of what is needed to win.

The states which Republicans have won in the last 6 cycles include Texas, Alabama, South Carolina, Oklahoma, Mississippi, Utah, Kansas, Nebraska, Idaho, South Dakota, North Dakota, Alaska, and Wyoming, giving to total of 102 votes. States with a 5 out of 6 Republican record include Georgia, North Carolina, Arizona, Indiana, and Montana for a total of 158 electoral votes. Much of the south is probably safely Republican as well, as 6 other states from that general region haven't voted for a Democrat since southerner Bill Clinton in 1996, and the Deep South is solidly Republican in their senators and governors.


Nate Silver has criticized the idea of the blue wall, pointing to a larger "red wall" of states that voted Republican from 1968 to 1988. He argues that the blue wall simply represents a "pretty good run" in elections, and that relatively minor gains in the popular vote could "flip" some of its states to Republicans.[4]

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