Sunday, March 15, 2009

2008 Presidential Candidate Visits by State and Party

I don't know that I set out initially to put data directly up on this site, but since I've been looking into the candidate visits data from the 2000 and 2004 primary seasons (see here and here), I thought I might also look into the availability of similar data for 2008. The great thing about the 2008 cycle -- other than it being fantastic overall -- was that there was no shortage of data collection going on. The drawback in many cases was that it wasn't cataloged in a way that could naturally be transferred into a spreadsheet for the type of analyses I like to do. One case of this was the fabulous candidate tracker (with maps!) Slate.com ran during the primaries. The problem with Map the Candidates was that, despite the great documentation, there was only individual candidate aggregation of visits and not party by party visit tabulations. Easily remedied, right?

Well, that's what I've tried to provide below:



Let me add a few notes:
  1. Only visits where there was an "active" competition going on were counted. That does include the Republican primaries after McCain wrapped up the nomination on March 4, but only because those contests were still scheduled to happen. In other words, there was some, albeit small, draw for the candidate(s) there. This also includes Democratic caucuses past their initial steps. Both Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton showed up at the North Dakota State Democratic Convention in early April, for instance, after the initial caucuses took place on February 5. Those visits count. The two candidates were seeking delegates. GOP contests of a similar ilk were not included (though Ron Paul supporters tried to and in some cases did overrun some of those state conventions).
  2. I highlighted the top 5 states overall and for each party. The key is at the bottom of the spreadsheet. Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina (in that order) were the top three draws overall and for both parties. Florida was fourth overall and in terms of GOP visits. The half-delegation penalty by the Republican Party did not have an impact on Florida's share of attention and overall the Sunshine state was not terribly negatively affected by the Democrats stripping the state of its entire delegation for a period. Michigan wasn't hurt too badly either; garnering the fifth slot in the percentage of GOP visits. California drew that distinction overall, while Pennsylvania claimed the final spot for the Democrats. The rules mattered in this regard for the Democratic Party. All four exempt states -- Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina and Nevada -- placed one through four (Nevada was fourth), while the two penalized states -- Florida and Michigan -- fell much further back.
Interesting stuff that I'll have to come back to at some point. Maybe another projection could emerge?


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2 comments:

Jared said...

Josh,

As a comparison, here are the Top 5 states for the two parties from 1976, the first 'true' year of the Modern Presidential Nomination System (as taken from Aldrich's "Before the Convention").

Democrats: Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Florida, New York, and Illinois.

Republicans: California, Florida, New Hampshire, Illinois, and a tie for 5th between Texas and North Carolina.

It should be noted that on the Democratic side that four of the top five most visited states held four of the first five primaries (New York the exception; it held the 6th primary in 1976).

On the Republican side, four of the first five primaries make the Republican top five (Massachusetts is the missing state, a state Reagan did not contest). However, California, which got the most visits, held the last primary of the season.

Interestingly enough, Iowa does not make either list in 1976, while it finished #1 for both parties in 2008 (and also finished #1 for the Democrats in 2004). New Hampshire, which was the most visited state in 2000, 1996, 1992, and 1988 (It's probable it was the most visited state in 1984 and 1980 as well, but I'm still collecting data on those two elections), is not #1 in 1976.

Or, in other words, states with early primaries have been the focus point of candidates for as long as the system has been in place, but the increased emphasis on Iowa is a more recent occurrence, as well as the even-greater attention paid to the Granite State.

Josh Putnam said...

Ah, I see someone else has Before the Convention readily available for times like these.

[Side note: It still kills me that Nebraska is abbreviated NB in the tables in the appendices.]

[Side note 2: The amount of work put into gathering this information is staggeringly insurmountable when one thinks about what Aldrich -- et. al? -- must have gone through to collect the media and visits information in the late 1970s and early 80s.]

Aside from that, you won't find an argument from me on your comments. Earlier is better. Period. I suppose I was a bit surprised that Nevada was so high on the Democratic side. The other thing that ties the Democratic top 5 together was that each event had its date all to itself. They were all stand-alone contests with no competition for attention.

Oh, and I think "Uncommitted" was able to keep most of the Democrats out of Iowa in 1976. It worked. He/she won. But the media wanted to interpret that as a Carter victory.

Seriously though, Carter's "win" there started making Iowa what it is today in the presidential nomination game.