Regionalization of Democratic Party Benefits GOP in Midterm Elections

The Democratic Party has, for the moment, become a regional party.

Only 449 counties across the nation are reliably Democratic. Five times that many — 2,226 — are reliably Republican. The Democratic counties are generally found along the coasts and in large urban areas.

Nowhere is the party’s abandonment of rural America more apparent than in West Virginia. For most of the 20th century, this was a solidly Democratic state. In the first presidential election of the 21st century, however, George W. Bush carried the state and it’s voted Republican at the presidential level ever since. Last year, Donald Trump won the state with a crushing 42-percentage point victory over Hillary Clinton.

Still, at the state level, West Virginia remained a Democratic stronghold until 2014. In that year, the Mountain State gave Republicans control of the state legislature and elected a Republican U.S. Senator for the first time in more than half a century. Last week, Democratic Governor Jim Justice switched parties to join the GOP.

These trends help explain why the midterm election outlook is fairly bleak for Democrats. U.S. Senator Joe Manchin is up for re-election as a Democrat. There’s no doubt voters in the state like Manchin, but there’s also no doubt they don’t like the crowd he hangs…