Is this what a landslide looks like?

Thomas Ash
5 November 2008

With almost all states called, we have a pretty good picture of the electoral map. It looks like this:

Though not quite the stuff of Democrats' wildest fantasies (which featured Georgia and even Montana), this is about as good as they could have hoped for. It is already being called a "landslide" by the often restrained New York Times. Nonetheless, it looks somewhat less impressive than this:

Or this:

However,  those sorts of landslides look to be things of the past. America is now much more evenly split, with both parties calibrating their message so as to win 51% of the electorate. The Democrats in particular have moved to the centre ever since Bill Clinton, scarred by the experience of the 1984 and 1988 elections depicted above, in which their candidates were widely seen as too liberal. Of course, some commentators, like John Judis of the New Republic, are already interpreting this election as part of a leftward shift in the nation. They may well be right, and I am sure we shall be discussing this at openUSA over the coming weeks. But there is no missing the fact that many of the new congressmen the Democrats have gained are more conservative than their old colleagues. This is the result of a deliberate and apparently highly successful strategy of recruiting candidates in tune with their districts. It will help keep the Democrats close to the centre, and perhaps even mark the return of a South in which both parties are competitive. Perhaps then we may see an electoral map which is more uniformly blue.

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