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Losing Ground

Republicans find themselves increasingly confined to the Sun Belt.

11:40 PM, Nov 7, 2006 • By MATTHEW CONTINETTI
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THE LESSON of 2006 is that the South is not enough space to build a national governing majority. You have to branch out to other parts of the country, such as the Interior West, Pacific Coast, Northeast Corridor, Midwest, and elsewhere. Instead Democrats are surging in those places, and Republicans are increasingly confined to (high-growth) areas in the Sun Belt.

It would be difficult for the South to become more Republican. But it's easy for New England and the Northeast Corridor to become more Democratic. And tonight voters chose liberal Democrats over moderate-to-liberal Republicans in Rhode Island, Connecticut, and New York.

A similar thing happened in Pennsylvania, Indiana, Ohio, Michigan, and Minnesota. Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Ohio were Bush targets in 2004. Today they are trending solidly Democratic. As for Indiana and Ohio, in these states corruption and the economic transformation wrought by globalization have seriously diminished the chances for future Republican success.

Finally, there's the Interior West, where Democrats are projected to make gains in Montana, Colorado, Arizona, and maybe even Wyoming. The Democrats who are successful in these states might be a little less liberal than their brethren along the coasts, but they will still caucus with Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid all the same.

So the geographical sphere of Democratic power has expanded, while the sphere of Republican power has contracted. That's clearly bad news for the GOP--in 2006 and beyond.

Matthew Continetti is associate editor at THE WEEKLY STANDARD.