Mitt Romney spoils all the fun (the view from 20,000 feet)

Below is our first national map based on results of this year’s presidential primaries. It simply shows the candidate who got the most votes in each county, regardless of party. Unfortunately, Mitt Romney’s withdrawal from the Republican race may mean that this map won’t be filled in with any more states, since it’s not really fair to compare contested Democratic primaries with uncontested Republican ones. This map is not meant to indicate who is likely to carry each county in the fall. Hillary Clinton’s blue covers the most ground, but that’s not surprising, given the high turnouts in the Democratic primaries and the more splintered field on the Republican side. Still, it’s a bit surprising that John McCain doesn’t show up more. It turns out that he generally runs strongest in more Democratic counties, so he rarely has the biggest vote total anywhere. You can interpret that as a sign of McCain’s soft support among hard-core conservatives or as a sign of his strength in areas where Republicans will need to steal votes from the Democratic side in November.


The Northeast is now the Democratic Party’s bedrock region; McCain has been the only Republican to outpoll all Democrats anywhere in the region. (Mitt Romney carried his home state of Massachusetts but he got fewer votes than both Clinton and Obama in every region.) Clinton came out on top in many counties (in southern New Hampshire and upstate New York) that would have been considered rock-solid Republican until recently. Barack Obama harvested lots of votes in rural areas, college towns, and Boston’s Suffolk County, but he wasn’t able to carry a single urban county, or New York borough, in Clinton’s home state of New York.


Obama has swept most of the Deep South, but Clinton has been powerful in the border states of Arkansas and Tennessee, as well as central and southeastern Florida. Before he withdrew from the race, John Edwards got a good chunk of votes in Florida’s panhandle. Among Republicans, Mike Huckabee did very well in northern Alabama and Georgia; Romney had pockets of strength on Florida’s west coast and in a pair of suburban counties outside of Nashville and Atlanta; and McCain did well in counties outside of Mobile, Alabama, and Columbia, South Carolina, as well as some of the less populated counties on both of Florida’s coasts.


Loyalties toward favorite sons colored the primary picture in the Midwest, with Obama sweeping Illinois and Romney doing well in his father’s home state of Michigan. (The two "other" counties, including Detroit and Ann Arbor, cast more votes for "uncommitted" and minor candidates in the Democratic primary than for Clinton, who was the only major candidate on the ballot.) Clinton got more votes than anyone else in most Missouri counties, but Obama carried the state thanks to Kansas City and St. Louis (both the city and the adjoining suburban county). Huckabee got a big haul of votes from the Ozarks region of Missouri, but McCain won the state’s GOP primary thanks to votes in the St. Louis area.


Clinton’s strength among Latino voters is evident in the close-up of the West Coast. She outpolled all other candidates in the entire Los Angeles and San Diego areas (including once overwhelmingly Republican Orange County) and in Tucson’s Pima County. Obama was confined to San Francisco, Oakland’s Alameda Counties, and a string of light-to-moderately populated coastal counties, as well as very sparsely populated areas near the Nevada border.