Analysis by Chris Cillizza, CNN Editor-at-large
Updated 6:42 PM ET, Fri February 11, 2022
(CNN)There are a lot of ways to try to figure out which state is the most friendly to one political party. The most common method is to look at the margins in the previous presidential race. Or to look at how long it’s been since one party has won a state at the presidential level.
The Center for Politics at the University of Virginia has come up with another way to rank the states in terms of their partisan leans — and it comes down to this longtime political maxim: Demography is destiny.
The Center for Politics used three criteria to rank the states demographically:
1) What percentage of the state’s residents 25 or older have bachelor’s degrees or higher?
2) What percentage of the state’s residents are White?
3) How urban or rural is the state?
As Louis Jacobson wrote:
“Put simply, Republican candidates now perform strongest among White voters without a college degree, especially if they live in rural areas. And Democrats, conversely, are performing best among minority voters, those with at least an undergraduate degree, and those who live in or near urban areas.”
The center added each state’s ratings on those three categories together. The lower the number, the more friendly for Republicans. The higher the number, the more favorable for Democrats.
And it found that the most demographically friendly state for Republicans is …
Yes, the same West Virginia that Sen. Joe Manchin, a Democrat, represents. That should convince any lingering Democratic doubters that the alternative to Manchin in the US Senate is almost certainly a Republican.
Here are the rest of the most GOP-friendly states in the top 10:
4. (tie) South Dakota, Idaho, North Dakota, Iowa
And here are the 10 most Democratic-friendly states:
2. New Jersey
3. New York
7. (tie) Connecticut, Illinois
Notably, the state at the top of the list here, Maryland, is represented by Republican Gov. Larry Hogan.
These rankings generally line up with recent presidential election results. Only two states in the top 10 for Republicans (Iowa and Maine) have voted for a Democratic presidential nominee in the last decade. And none of the 10 most Democratic-friendly states have gone for a Republican in the last decade.
Which state is in the demographic middle? Michigan, which ranks 25th. The state has played host to two very close presidential contests, in 2016 (won by Donald Trump) and 2020 (won by Joe Biden).
The Point: Demography really is destiny — politically speaking, at least.