The New Electoral Map is George W. Bush’s Revenge

Elections
U.S. President George W. Bush attends a Bush/Cheney 2004 fundraiser reception. (REUTERS/Larry Downing )

The new map unveiled yesterday of the House of Representatives and the Electoral College has many implications for American politics in the coming decade. It will be used to conduct the presidential elections of 2024 and 2028. Looking back at the past six presidential elections since 2000, which candidate would have benefited the most from the new map? George W. Bush.

Here is Bush’s 2000 coalition of states on the 2024 map (all maps via 270toWin):

That 289–249 victory is much more comfortable than the 271–266 nailbiter Bush claimed at the time, a gain of +18 electoral votes. Not only does Bush pick up an extra 13 electoral votes just from Texas and Florida, but he also benefits from the growth of Montana, Colorado, Georgia, North Carolina, Arizona, and Nevada in the three rounds of Census-taking since 2000.

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Bush’s 2004 victory after the 2000 Census was more comfortable (286–251), but would expand by +10 on the new map.

Barack Obama’s 365–173 victory over John McCain shrinks to 357-181 on the new map, +8 for McCain’s losing coalition.

Obama defeated Mitt Romney 332–206 after the 2010 Census, which would be 329-209 in the 2024 Electoral College; Romney’s losing coalition gains +3 on the new map.

Donald Trump’s 304–227 victory over Hillary Clinton, which would have been 306–232 without faithless electors, would be 307–231 on the new map, with the contraction of Pennsylvania, Michigan, Ohio, and West Virginia offset by the growth of Texas, Florida, North Carolina, and Montana to give Trump +1.

Joe Biden’s 306–232 win over Trump drops to 303–235 on the next election’s playing field. That may be reassuring news for Biden if he or his successor can hold all the same states and districts, assuming that no new states are added and no states change how they distribute electoral votes (there are proposals in Nebraska and Michigan). But just flip the three states Biden won by margins between 0.24 percent and 0.63 percent, and you are already up to a 272–266 Republican majority, which expands to 291–247 if Republicans could reclaim Pennsylvania (which voted by 1.18 percent for its second native son to win the White House). So, Trump’s losing 2020 coalition is +3.

It is not surprising that the differences are most dramatic on the 2000 map, since there have been three intervening Census reapportionments since then. It is very unlikely that a George W. Bush–style candidate and platform could rebuild the Bush coalition today, particularly in Virginia or Colorado. Still, the geographic orientation of Bush’s coalition — he was the only Republican ever to win the White House without the Midwest — was more targeted to the future growth areas of the country than that of any other presidential candidate in either party since 2000. Every new candidate makes his or her own coalition; the next Republican leader will have the Trump blueprint to work with, but should consider that elements of the Bush blueprint can also help hunt where the votes are.

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