|The 1996 Electoral College Spectrum1|
|1Follow the link for a detailed explanation on how to read the Electoral College Spectrum. The darker the color of the cell, the higher the margin was for the winning candidate (Light: < 5%. Medium: 5-10%, Dark: > 10%).|
2The numbers in the parentheses refer to the number of electoral votes a candidate would have if he won all the states ranked up to that state. If, for example, Dole had won all the states up to and including Tennessee, he would have gained 282 electoral votes. Dole's numbers are only totaled through the states he would have needed in order to get to 270. In those cases, Clinton's number is on the left and Dole's is on the right in italics.
The electoral votes for Washington, DC are included in the first cell at the top left. Conveniently, the district is historically the most Democratic unit within the electoral college which allows FHQ to push it off the spectrum in the interest of keeping the figure to just 50 slots.
3Pennsylvania is the state where Clinton crossed the 270 electoral vote threshold to win the presidential election. That line is referred to as the victory line.
1) Again, the movement of the color lines from cycle to cycle is not as important as the changes in ordering of the states.
2) 1996 is the first year in the time period being examined in which a sitting president was reelected. The spectrum from 1992, then, should bear some resemblance to the figure above. What's interesting is how regional groupings of states shift in similar directions more clearly in 1996 than they have in other years. Bear in mind that we are talking about shifts in positioning on the spectrum and not changes in shares of the vote or margins between the candidates. For example, this spectrum shows a certain consolidation of the northeast for the Democratic Party. Of the ten states in the far left column -- the most Democratic -- seven are from the northeast (or mid-Atlantic). New Hampshire even moved over an entire column to the left of the tipping point state (Pennsylvania).
On the whole, midwestern states (see Iowa, Michigan, Ohio, Wisconsin) pushed over toward Clinton in the order in 1996 and border (Arkansas, Missouri, West Virginia) and Pacific (California, Oregon and Washington) states moved in the opposite direction; toward Dole.
3) If we shift our focus to the evolution of the positions of the 2012 swing states, we also see a closer alignment with what has been witnessed in terms of the electoral college spectrum order over the last two cycles. Iowa, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Florida and New Hampshire are all collectively more proximate to the tipping point than they were in the prior cases. Colorado, North Carolina and Virginia are all within striking distance competition-wise but on the opposite end of the partisan line from the winning candidate. The full group of toss up states (in FHQ's typology) is clustered much more in 1996 than was the case in, say, 1984. And mind you, that is in no ways a surprise. Again, this is an evolutionary process and we should expect to see movement toward the most recent alignment of states (within the context of the other idiosyncratic factors unique to each election cycle).
4) FHQ will spare you another nearly duplicate spectrum to account for the influence of Perot in the 1996 election. It was far more muted than was the case in 1992 and that translated to the spectrum as well. The two-party version of the 1996 electoral college spectrum was not overly different from the one above. No state shifted more than one position on the table. So, we're talking about a limited number of less than consequential flip-flops.