|The 2004 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, Kerry had won all the states up to and including Ohio, he would have gained 284 electoral votes. Kerry's numbers are only totaled through the states he would have needed in order to get to 270. In those cases, Bush's number is on the right and Kerry's is on the left 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.
3One of the Minnesota electors voted for John Edwards for both president and vice president. As a result, John Kerry's official electoral vote total was 251. For the purposes of the figure it will be assumed that the Democratic Party "won" that electoral vote and it is thus included above.
4Ohio is the state where Bush 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) On that front, there was very little substantial movement on the spectrum from 2000-2004. That was particularly true given how little changed in the electoral college in across the two cycles. Only New Hampshire, Iowa and New Mexico jumped the partisan line. The Granite state flipped blue while Iowa and New Mexico turned red. What is striking outside of that is how "surprising" 2008 toss ups like North Carolina and Virginia moved into position in the middle column on the 2004 spectrum. And that disregards margin. Despite the fact that North Carolina was Bush +12 and Virginia was Bush +8 in 2004, each fell at a spot in the order that put it in range of being attainable in future elections. That range in a non-landslide election tends to include all of the toss up states and the middle column (...should those two be distinct from each other). Of the 2008-2012 battleground states, only Indiana was outside of that range.
3) The other shuffling outside of the range was just that, shuffling. Vermont shifted deeper into the Democratic column and Alabama moved slightly more, further into the Republican column. Those border/Appalachian states were all to the right of North Carolina and Virginia. That did not involve a lot of movement but is indicative of their change relative to each other in the order.
4) Of the six elections examined thus far (1984-2004), the tipping point state has been in the second position down in the middle column four times. On the surface, that points toward a certain continuity of states in each party's coalition (of states) over time. More to the point, it speaks to the consistency of the coalition of states on either side of the tipping point from cycle to cycle regardless of where the partisan line may fall.