Alright, let's get back to business!
For those who haven't given up all hope in this thread yet, here's the next election, finally.
1996William Clinton: 357 (-22)Robert Dole: 181 (+22)
Despite increasing his margin of victory by three percentage points compared to 1992, Clinton actually ends up with a smaller EV count. To some extent, Dole would manage to salvage the appearance of a respectable showing, winning more than a third of the Electoral College. How did this happen? Florida is the main culprit here: whereas IRL, it was still a Republican-leaning State that flipped from Bush to Clinton in 1996, the split creates a solid R State that remained to the GOP candidate both years, and a genuine swing State that Clinton carried both times. Thus, while this change worked to Clinton's advantage in 1992 (bringing him 16 EV), it cost him North Florida and its 11 EV in 1996. In addition, the California split adds another State that flipped from Clinton to Dole (in addition to Georgia and Colorado). Like many Western States, California indeed trended strongly to the right in this election, to the point of moving outside of Clinton's reach. Finally, the Ohio split continues to work to the benefit of the right, as Dole manages to come ahead there. Clinton's only consolation prize is to carry Rio Grande by an absolute majority, offsetting his losses a bit.
PVI map:Clinton: 279 (=)Dole: 259 (=)
For the first time, amazingly enough, the EV breakdown of a hypothetical tied race remains exactly identical to what it was IRL. Clinton and Dole's gains in different areas manage to offset each other perfectly. The latter draws an advantage from the splits in PA and IL, as the States of Allegheny and of Illinois both flip from lean-D to lean-R over the span of four years. These two Republican conquests will consolidate in the following elections, making of 1996 a crucial turning point in the electoral history of these States. On the opposite direction, this election also marks a turning point for South Florida, which, for the first time, becomes more Democratic that the country as a whole, and thus could bring 16 additional EVs to Clinton in the event of a tied race. Just like in 1992, the California split works to the Republicans' advantage, but is partly offset by the Ohio split's pro-Democratic impact. Finally, it is worth pointing out that Clinton underperformed in Oregon IRL. The creation of a unified (and exclusively coastal) Washington State thus grants another handful of EV to Clinton in relative terms. Finally, adding to 1996's status as a "turning point", Rio Grande has a (marginally) Republican PVI for the first time in the observed period. Overall, this means that Clinton would have a slight but significant structural advantage, as Dole would have to carry both Iowa and Wisconsin (with PVIs close to D+2) to win an electoral majority.
The urban Northeast, from Massachusetts to New Jersey, really developed a fondness for Clinton over the course of his first term, trending toward him by more than 10 points. Along with a handful of other States (New England, Adirondack, South Florida, Hawaii), this area is the only one to see a really significant movement toward the Democrats. In this regard, 1996 seems to mark the beginning of the "solid Northeast" for Democrats, with States like MA and NY becoming their rock-ribbed strongholds. To a lesser extent, the Upper Midwest also consolidated its Democratic lean. Meanwhile, Republican gains are more widespread, spanning across most of the South, Lower Midwest, and West (including, somewhat surprisingly, the Pacific States). Dole's native Kansas really stands out, probably also a consequence of Perot's decline. Overall, a dynamic of polarization seems perceptible, with Democratic States becoming more Democratic and Republican States more Republican. Two State splits seem particularly interesting to look at: Pennsylvania and Illinois. In both cases, you have the most urban of the two States (PA and CH) moving to the left, while the more rural or industrial ones (AY and IL) trend strongly toward Dole. It's also worth noting that the Democratic trend is stronger in NY than in AD, and stronger in SF than in NF, and that the Republican trend is stronger in CA than in CS or PC, and weaker in RG than in TX and JF. The modern partisan divide is clearly beginning to emerge.State Data:
- Most Democratic: New York (PVI +30.87)
- Most Republican: Utah (PVI -29.59)
- Closest: Nevada (margin +0.65)
- Bellwether: Rio Grande (PVI -0.02)
- Tipping point: Wisconsin (PVI +1.86), after IA
- Strongest Democratic Trend: New Jersey (trend +12.53)
- Strongest Republican Trend: Kansas (trend -16.03)
- Most Stable (absolute): Indiana (swing -0.07)
- Most Stable (relative): Virginia (trend -0.55)