With his scheduled trip to Idaho on Wednesday, President Obama will have visited 47 U.S. states.
Along with the Gem State, the remaining three — South Dakota, Utah and South Carolina — have something in common: they voted for Republicans by significant margins in 2008 and 2012.
Obama plans to stop by Boise State University Wednesday to discuss themes he plans to lay out in Tuesday’s State of the Union address. His last Idaho appearance was a campaign event during the 2008 Democratic primary.
Geography likely plays a part in Obama’s avoidance of “red states” — as does population. But politics also appears to be a factor, as none of the four untraveled states offer much in the way of campaigning and fundraising opportunities for Democrats.
“I think it’s pretty clear that he didn’t put a priority on red states in his first term,” Al Cross, the director of the Institute for Rural Journalism and Community Issues at the University of Kentucky, told The Daily Caller, adding that “he seems to be checking them off now.”
“The country is so diverse, I think a two-term president should visit every state while in office,” Cross continued.
Seventeen of the 20 states visited most often by Obama during his presidency all supported him in the 2012 election, according to an analysis conducted by NPR in June. Likewise, out of Obama’s 20 least-visited states, 17 voted for Romney in 2012.
Obama’s 45th and 46th stops on the list were also deeply conservative states. In June, he visited the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe in North Dakota. And in May, he visited Arkansas for the first time to tour damage left in the wake of a tornado on the way to a three-day fundraising binge in California.
That marks another pattern for Obama. Disasters — natural or man-made — are often prerequisites for an Obama “red state” stop. He visited Mississippi for the first and only time during the Gulf of Mexico oil spill in 2010 and touched down in Alabama and Oklahoma for second visits in 2011 and 2013 following tornadoes there, respectively.
Obama’s visits to conservative strongholds Montana and Wyoming came during a family vacation to Yellowstone National Park.
According to a report from The Washington Times in 2008, Richard Nixon was the first president to visit every U.S. state during his tenure. Gerald Ford had little time in his partial term to accomplish the same feat, and Jimmy Carter couldn’t pull it off during his four years.
Ronald Reagan missed four states — Maine, Rhode Island, Delaware, and Vermont — though only Rhode Island voted against him during his two election bids.
George H.W. Bush hit all 50 states in his first three years in office, becoming the only president to have made the grand tour in a single term.
Bill Clinton hit the milestone with a month left in his second term, stopping by Nebraska, which voted for Republicans.
George W. Bush missed visiting Vermont, which was the last Democratic-leaning state visited by Obama.