On Feb. 3, Gallup published a poll revealing something new about Americans’ political preferences.

As a Washington Post story put it, “For the first time since Gallup began measuring party affiliation nationwide, there are now more red (Republican) states than blue (Democratic) ones.”

This clearly isn’t the first time that’s happened, as Gallup has only been measuring the states by partisanship for eight years.

But the fun fact here is the change over the past seven years.

That is, of course, a period coterminous with the tenure of our current Democratic president. Over those years, large numbers of Americans have abandoned his party, Gallup says.

How ungrateful can such wretches get, considering how much our status in the world, our national debt, our levels of social harmony, our military preparedness and our political discourse have improved since 2008?

Gallup defines a state as “solid” for a party if it has a 10-point or larger majority in voter registrations, and “leaning” if there is a five-to-nine-point edge.

The new survey reveals that 20 states are now solidly Republican or leaning to the party, while 14 are leaning or solidly Democratic. The remaining 16 are rated “competitive.”

That’s interesting, but it’s the shift from 2008 that’s important: Back then, there were 35 states in Democratic ranks, with just five rated as solid or leaning Republican and 10 rated competitive.

So from 2008 to 2015, Democrats lost a 30-state lead and now have a six-state deficit, an astounding turnaround. And Republicans have 31 governorships, hold complete control of 30 state legislatures and run 50 percent of the governing bodies in another eight states.

Thus, more than 75 percent of state legislative chambers are in Republican hands.

I suppose nobody is going to call this the “Obama effect,” but it’s a very odd trend if it isn’t related to his impact on the nation.

What about Maine? For decades it was a solidly blue state, but Maine is now ranked “competitive” by Gallup. Here, too, the edge goes to the Republicans: Mainers have a 38.8 percent “leaning Democratic” ranking, but 42.5 percent of us are “leaning Republican,” a 3.7 percent tilt toward the pachyderms. That’s reflected in its Republican governorship and Senate majority, and its first-term 2nd District congressman.

How about a liberal-moderate-conservative ranking? In 2015, only three states showed more self-identified liberals than conservatives. They were Vermont, Massachusetts and Rhode Island. (Surprised? Me neither.)

Maine actually had an 11.2 percent conservative edge in 2015, 35.4 percent conservatives to 24.2 percent liberals (moderates had a slight plurality at 36.5 percent).

We hear an awful lot about how the “divided Republican Party” is falling apart at the seams, but looking at these figures – and recent polls showing Democratic socialist Bernie Sanders catching up to Hillary Clinton at the national level — one wonders which party it really is that is splitting apart.

As an aside — but a related one — three recent stories deserve notice. The first was a sidebar to a national story Jan. 31 noting that “work requirements” for able-bodied childless adults aged 18 to 49 receiving food aid may soon remove 1 million recipients from the rolls nationwide.

The rules require adults “to work, volunteer or attend job-training or other education programs or have their benefits cut off after three months.”

I think most people would call it only common sense to save the money for families with kids and motivate adults who can work to do so. (Progressives, who never met a program that encouraged dependency they didn’t like, might not agree, but note I said “most people.”)

Indeed, thanks to Gov. LePage and other Republicans, there has been real progress on this front, the sidebar noted: “The number of healthy, childless adults receiving food stamps in Maine has fallen from 13,589 on Nov. 1, 2014, to 1,206 on Nov. 15 of last year.”

But this is even better: A Jan. 29 story reported that “Maine’s coffers are flush with higher-than-expected receipts from sales taxes and personal income taxes,” with revenues “running about 13.5 percent” over the previous 12-month period.

A state official said Maine’s growing economy meant “2015 was a much stronger year for Maine households than we had been predicting,” and the state’s jobless rate, “which has been declining for more than seven years, accelerated in the past two years, reaching 4.0 percent in December,” the lowest rate in the past 15 years.

Finally, on Tuesday a story said that Gov. Paul LePage, who strangely hasn’t given up yet on tax cuts, drug testing for welfare recipients and importing Canadian hydropower (and why should he?), chose to call his opponents in Augusta “socialists.”

His targets were reported to be upset, but I couldn’t tell whether it was because he was wrong – or because he was right.

M.D. Harmon, a retired journalist and military officer, is a freelance writer and speaker. He can be contacted at:

[email protected]

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