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Blue states aren't going to save the Republican establishment

Shell-shocked Republican leaders hoping that ideologically moderate parties located in blue states will save them from Donald Trump got a rude awakening this morning, as an Emerson poll of Massachusetts showed Trump with a yuge lead in the Bay State:

Of course, you shouldn't put too much weight on any one poll. But Trump is also winning in Vermont.

Longtime observers of the Trump phenomenon will know that this notion of moderate blue states doing him in is a fantasy. Most blue states do have relatively moderate state Republican parties, but Trump polls very well with moderate Republicans. That's in part because most moderates aren't people with across-the-board centrist views, but rather people like Trump who hold a grab bag of different policy stances and aren't excessively concerned with ideological consistency.

Polling by Morning Consult shows that the Northeastern states (where, after all, Trump is from) are in fact an area of regional strength for him compared with a place like South Carolina.

Morning Consult data

Using data provided by Civis Analytics, Nate Cohn at the New York Times broke this down in an even more granular way by looking at congressional districts:

NYT/Civis Analytics
GOP Presidential Candidate Donald Trump Holds Rally In Atlanta, Georgia Photo by Branden Camp/Getty Images

The broad pattern here uniting the South with the Northeast may strike many as bizarre, since these two regions typically find themselves on opposite sides of political disputes.

But as Duke University sociologist Kieran Healy has observed, many surprising-looking maps of the United States end up largely tracking a map showing which parts of the United States contain large numbers of African Americans:

Kieran Healy

It's not a perfect match for the Trump support map (in part because the Trump support maps track states or congressional districts rather than counties) but it is pretty close. Both African Americans and Trump supporters are generally located in an arc that starts in eastern Texas, sweeps east toward the Atlantic Ocean, and then up through the Washington-Boston megalopolis. Michigan is blacker than the red of the Midwest, and it's Trumpier too.

Of course, that's not to say that Trump is popular overall in Northeastern states like New York and Massachusetts. The defining characteristic of these places in partisan politics is that they contain very few Republicans. It's just that those Republicans who do live in the Northeast tend to like Trump. Conversely, Trump fares very poorly with the Republican Party of Utah, but Utah is such an overwhelmingly Republican state that you would expect any Republican to carry it in a general election.

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