Obama wins red states and blue counties

Brendan Nyhan has some nice graphs plotting Barack Obama’s support in primaries and caucuses by several variables, including education levels and the number of white Southern Baptists in a state. Interestingly, he shows that Obama has been doing best in heavily "red" states like Utah and Idaho and worst in solidly "blue" states like Massachusetts. However, I’ve been crunching county-by-county numbers and discovered that Clinton has a 49-43 edge in counties that were solidly red in 2004 (that is, George W. Bush got at least 55%) — including Orange County, California; Maricopa County, Arizona; and Ocean County, New Jersey. Meanwhile, Obama is ahead 51-45 in counties where Bush got less than 45% — including Cook County, Illinois; DeKalb County, Georgia; and Prince George’s County, Maryland. That is, Obama has been doing very well in lightly populated red states but Clinton has been doing better in heavily populated red counties (mostly suburban and many with large Latino populations).

Conversely, though Obama generally does better with independents than with registered Democrats, he does best in the hard-core Democratic counties of solidly Democratic states (mostly urban and many with large black populations).

The picture is murkier in "swing" counties. Obama is ahead 47-45 in counties that leaned Republican in 2004 (where Bush got 50 to 55 percent), such as Henrico County, Virginia; Winnebago County, Wisconsin; and Jefferson County, Colorado. But Clinton is ahead 47-46 in counties where Bush got 45 to 50 percent, including Jefferson County, Missouri; Pima County, Arizona; and Nassau County, New York.

By the way, after adding the Wisconsin returns, Obama now leads 48-43 among counties that voted for Bill Clinton in the early primary states of 1992, while Hillary Clinton has a 51-44 edge among counties that supported Paul Tsongas. And Obama is ahead 51-43 in counties that backed Jimmy Carter in 1980, while Hillary is up 52-44 in counties that went for Ted Kennedy that year.