The number of states with a clear Republican advantage doubled in 2011, part of a larger trend of states shifting into the GOP column, according to new Gallup data.
Since 2008, the number of states classified as "solid Democratic" dropped from 30 to 12; 10 states are now "solid Republican," up from four.
The designations are based on interviews with more than 350,000 adults in all 50 states over the course of the year. Respondents are asked whether they identify with or lean toward one party or another; states called "solidly" Democratic or Republican are those in which one party has an advantage of 10 percentage points or greater.
"In 2008, Democrats had one of the largest advantages in party affiliation they have had in the last 20 years, likely because of the unpopularity of President George W. Bush," Gallup's Jeffrey M. Jones wrote Thursday. "The movement away from the Democratic Party may just be a return to a more normal state of political affairs from an unusual situation, rather than a rejection of the Democrats per se."
In 2011, just two states went in a more Democratic direction -- Maine and New Hampshire -- while 18 shifted toward Republicans. Among the latter group were key swing states Pennsylvania, Ohio, Iowa and North Carolina, which shifted from the "Lean Democratic" to "Competitive" category.
The most Democratic states in 2011 were Hawaii, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, New York and Maryland. Utah, Wyoming, Idaho, Alaska and Kansas were the most Republican.