Over the last 30 years or so, one aspect of presidential elections has been pretty consistent. The GOP nominee usually doesn’t have to break a sweat to carry the southern states. From 1980 through 2004, with two notable exceptions – Jimmy Carter’s home state of Georgia in 1980 and a few states during southern-boy Bill Clinton’s two runs – Republicans enjoyed complete dominance in the swath of states from Virginia to Texas.
That may be changing. This year’s battle between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton is unusual to say the least. Not in my lifetime have two candidates with unfavorables as high as these contested the White House. It’s been well-documented how disliked the pair of nominees are. Unfortunately for conservatives like me, it appears, at least for the time being, that Trump is the more disliked of the two. And we’re seeing one effect of his dismal likeability in recent polling data.
Surveys all across the South show a move toward the blue team. Poll numbers in previously dark red states reveal less overwhelming Republican advantages, and more traditionally competitive states are actually making appearances on EP’s presidential map adorned in various shades of blue. The following graphics show just how pronounced the shift has been.
Since August 9, the date of the second graphic, Georgia has moved back to pink, but it continues to be a very winnable state for Clinton. On the other hand, Virginia has since moved into even bluer territory and is currently rated a Strong DEM Hold. Clearly Donald Trump’s candidacy is taking a hit in what should be his strongest region of the country.
Early on, I saw hints that he might be able to counter a weaker South with new strength in states like Pennsylvania, Colorado and Nevada, but early polls giving him the edge there have been replaced with more pro-Hillary ones. It’s hard to see, with all this blue on the map, Trump overtaking Clinton. We aren’t even to Labor Day yet, so there’s still time for him to make a comeback. However, things must change for that to be a possibility.