Sunny days ahead for GOP as population shifts south.
Migration from liberal bastions in the Northeast and Midwest to the Sun Belt states will boost Republican electoral strength in the coming decade, making it tougher than ever for Democrats to win the presidency without carrying states in the South or Southwest.
Heavily Democratic states such as New York, New Jersey, Illinois and Michigan will go on losing congressional seats and thus electoral strength in presidential elections, political analysts say. At the same time, they say, Republican states such as Florida, Texas, Arizona, Georgia and Nevada likely will gain congressional and electoral clout.
"The net beneficiary of this will continue to be the Republican Party because the population shift is moving into an environment that is heavily dominated by the Republicans," says Merle Black, a professor of politics and government at Emory University and author of books on political shifts in the South.
"In the 2002 and 2004 exit polls, we saw for the first time a majority of Southern white voters identifying themselves as Republicans and Democratic identification falling to a low 20 [percent] to 25 percent," Mr. Black says.
This doesn't mean that Democrats cannot win, but population shifts give the GOP "a long-term structural advantage," he says, "and assuming they nominate credible candidates, they start with a strong base."