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Decision 2012

The shifting map of U.S. politics

The shifting map of U.S. politics
CNN

POSTED: Wednesday, November 7, 2012 - 5:00pm

UPDATED: Wednesday, November 7, 2012 - 5:14pm

The electoral map is changing, and the 2012 presidential election is proof.

While many of the shifts favor the Democrats, some benefit the GOP.

Four years ago then-Sen. Obama became the first Democratic candidate since 1964 to carry Virginia in a presidential election, and the first to win North Carolina since 1976. Tuesday's election results confirmed that the 2008 results were no fluke. Virginia, which was once a reliably red state in presidential elections, can now be shaded purple. And North Carolina may be headed that way in the future.

It's also safe to say that New Mexico, a swing state for cycles past, has turned blue. And Nevada may be following down the same path in the future. An increase of the Latino share of the electorate, as well as the edging up of participation by younger voters, are partially behind these shifts.

"The biggest geographic breakthrough of 2008 is now consolidated. Obama in his first win captured a series of Sunbelt states that had leaned strongly toward the GOP over the previous four decades: Virginia, North Carolina, and Florida in the southeast, and Nevada and Colorado in the southwest, plus New Mexico, where Democrats had done better," said CNN Senior Political Analyst and National Journal Editorial Director Ron Brownstein.

"The same forces brought all of these states into play-growing diversity and improving democratic performance among the growing population of college educated whites. The same factors allowed the president to win several of them Tuesday night, and to run almost step for step in the others, even in a year when his white performance substantially eroded," added Brownstein.

But not all the shifts favor the Democrats.

"There are some states that have gotten redder. Obama carried Indiana four years ago but lost by 10 points this year, indicating that Indiana may be reverting to its Republican DNA. Sen. John McCain carried Missouri by the thinnest of margins in 2008, but Mitt Romney won that state by ten points," says CNN Polling Director Keating Holland.

The map has changed. And it will again.

The-CNN-Wire/Atlanta
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