Political party strength in U.S. states

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Political party strength in U.S. states refers to the level of representation of the various political parties of the U.S. in each state-wide elective office providing legislators to the state and to the U.S. Congress and electing the executives at the state (U.S. state governor) and national (U.S. President) level.

History[edit]

Throughout most of the 20th century, although the Republican and Democratic parties alternated in power at a national level, some states were so overwhelmingly dominated by one party that nomination was usually tantamount to election. This was especially true in the Solid South, where the Democratic Party was dominant for the better part of a century, from the end of Reconstruction in the late 1870s, through the period of Jim Crow Laws into the 1960s. Conversely, the New England states of Vermont, Maine, and New Hampshire were dominated by the Republican Party, as were some Midwestern states like Iowa and North Dakota.

However, in the 1970s and 1980s, the increasingly conservative Republican Party gradually overtook the Democrats in the southeast. The Democrats' support in the formerly Solid South had been eroded during the vast cultural, political and economic upheaval that surrounded the 1960s. By the 1990s the Republican Party had completed the transition into the southeast's dominant political party, despite typically having fewer members due to the prevalence of Republican voting generational Democrats. In New England, the opposite trend took place; the former Republican strongholds of Maine and Vermont became solidly Democratic, as did formerly Republican areas of New Jersey, New York, and Connecticut.

Currently, the majority of the overall number of seats held in the state legislatures has been switching between the two parties every few years. As of the U.S. gubernatorial elections of 2010, the Republican party holds an outright majority of approximately 440 with 3,890 seats (53% of total) compared to the Democratic party's number of 3,450 (47% of total) seats elected on a partisan ballot.[1] Of the 7,382 seats in all of the state legislatures combined, independents and third parties account for only 15 members, not counting the 49 members of the Nebraska Legislature, which is the only legislature in the nation to hold non-partisan elections to determine its members. Due to the results of the 2010 elections, Republicans took control of an additional 19 state legislative chambers, giving them majority control of both chambers in 25 states versus the Democrats' majority control of both chambers in only 16 states, with 8 states having split or inconclusive control of both chambers (not including Nebraska); previous to the 2010 elections, it was Democrats who controlled both chambers in 27 states versus the Republican party having total control in only 14 states, with eight states divided and Nebraska being nonpartisan.[2]

Current party strength[edit]

Gallup[edit]

As of October 2014, Gallup polling found that 43% of Americans identified as Democrats and 39% as Republicans, when party "leaners" were included; those figures changed to 41% Democratic and 42% Republican after the November 2014 elections.[3] However, an earlier 2013 Gallup survey found that 42% of Americans identified as political independents, a record high.[4]

The latter result is more in line with Gallup polling in 2010 that found that 31% of Americans identified as Democrats (tying a 22-year low), 29% as Republicans, and 38% as independents.[5] Nevertheless, more American independents leaned to the Republican Party when compared to the Democratic Party. Combining leaners with each party's core identifiers, the parties ended up tied at 45 percent in 2011.[6]

In 2014, Gallup found seventeen states safely Democratic or leaning Democratic, and fifteen states safely Republican or leaning Republican, with eighteen states categorized as "competitive between the two parties,[7] a net shift of one state to the Republican side since 2013.[8]

Partisan lean of U.S. states according to Gallup polling[7]
 Number of U.S. States
YearSolid DemLean DemCompetitiveLean GOPSolid GOPNet Dem
20082961014+30
200923101214+28
20101391855+12
201111715710+1
20121361939+7
201312519212+3
201411618510+2

Previously, Gallup observed that the "greatest movement away from the Democratic Party came between 2009 and 2010, when the number of states with a Democratic advantage fell from 34 to 23". At the time, Gallup concluded that "President Obama faces a much less favorable environment as he seeks a second term in office than he did when he was elected president."[9] There have been less significant partisan shifts among the U.S. states since 2011.

Cook Partisan Voting Index (PVI)[edit]

Another metric to measure how much a state leans towards one party or the other is the Cook Partisan Voting Index (PVI). Cook PVIs are calculated by comparing a state's average Democratic Party or Republican Party share of the two-party presidential vote in the past two presidential elections to the nation's average share of the same. PVIs for the states over the period 1994–2014 can be used to show the trends of U.S. states towards, or away from, one party or the other.[10]

Elections and voter registrations[edit]

The following table shows all the U.S. states and to what party (Democratic or Republican) their state governors belong. Also indicated is the majority party of the state legislatures' upper and lower houses as well as U.S. Senate representation. Nebraska's legislature is unicameral, i.e., it has only one legislative house and is officially non-partisan, though party affiliation still has an unofficial influence on the legislative process.

The simplest measure of the party strength in a state's voting population is the breakdown-by-party totals from its voter registration figures (figures that can easily be obtained from the websites of the Secretaries of State or the Boards of Elections of the various states). As of 2014, 28 states and the District of Columbia allow registered voters to indicate a party preference when registering to vote; the following 22 states (mostly in the South and the Midwest) do not provide for party preferences in voter registration: Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, North Dakota, Ohio, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington and Wisconsin. The partisan breakdown "demographics" provided in the following table are obtained from that state's party registration figures (from late 2014 whenever possible) where indicated.[11] Only Wyoming has a majority of registered voters identifying themselves as Republicans; two states have a majority of registered voters identifying themselves as Democrats: Maryland and Kentucky (since 2010, Louisiana, Pennsylvania and West Virginia have all seen their Democratic-majority registrations slip to just Democratic-pluralities).

For those states that do no allow for registration by party, Gallup's annual polling of voter party identification by state is the next best metric of party strength in the U.S. states. The partisan figures in the table below for the 22 states that don't register voters by party come from Gallup's 2014 polling of voter party identification by state.

Table of U.S. state party statistics[edit]

State2012 Presidential
Election
GovernorState SenateState HouseSenior
U.S. Senator
Junior
U.S. Senator
U.S. House of RepresentativesPartisan Split (as of 2014)
AlabamaRepublicanRepublicanRepublican 26-8-1(a)Republican 72-33RepublicanRepublicanRepublican 6-1Republican
49-35(e)
AlaskaRepublicanIndependentRepublican 14-6Republican 23-16-1(a)RepublicanRepublicanRepublican 1-0Republican
26.7-13.8(d)[12]
ArizonaRepublicanRepublicanRepublican 17-13Republican 38-22RepublicanRepublicanRepublican 5-4Republican
34.4-28.9(d)[13]
ArkansasRepublicanRepublicanRepublican 24-11Republican 64-36RepublicanRepublicanRepublican 4-0Republican
44-37(e)
CaliforniaDemocraticDemocraticDemocratic 25-14-1(b)Democratic 52-28DemocraticDemocraticDemocratic 39-14Democratic
43.3-28.1(d)[14]
ColoradoDemocraticDemocraticRepublican 18-17Democratic 34-31DemocraticRepublicanRepublican 4-3Republican
32.9-30.9(d)[15]
ConnecticutDemocraticDemocraticDemocratic 21-15Democratic 87-64DemocraticDemocraticDemocratic 5-0Democratic
36.4-20.8(d)[16]
DelawareDemocraticDemocraticDemocratic 12-9Democratic 25-16DemocraticDemocraticDemocratic 1-0Democratic
47.5-28.0(d)[17]
FloridaDemocraticRepublicanRepublican 26-14Republican 82-37-1(b)DemocraticRepublicanRepublican 17-10Democratic
38.8-35.0(d)[18]
GeorgiaRepublicanRepublicanRepublican 38-18Republican 120-59-1(a)RepublicanRepublicanRepublican 10-4Republican
43-39(e)
HawaiiDemocraticDemocraticDemocratic 24-1Democratic 43-8DemocraticDemocraticDemocratic 2-0Democratic
49-35(e)
IdahoRepublicanRepublicanRepublican 28-7Republican 56-14RepublicanRepublicanRepublican 2-0Republican
52-27(e)
IllinoisDemocraticRepublicanDemocratic 39-20Democratic 71-47DemocraticRepublicanDemocratic 10-8Democratic
47-35(e)
IndianaRepublicanRepublicanRepublican 40-10Republican 71-29RepublicanDemocraticRepublican 7-2Republican
44-37(e)
IowaDemocraticRepublicanDemocratic 26-24Republican 57-43RepublicanRepublicanRepublican 3-1Republican
32.0-31.1(d)[19]
KansasRepublicanRepublicanRepublican 32-8Republican 97-28RepublicanRepublicanRepublican 4-0Republican
44.1-24.3(d)[20]
KentuckyRepublicanDemocraticRepublican 26-12Democratic 54-46RepublicanRepublicanRepublican 5-1Democratic
53.4-38.8(d)[21]
LouisianaRepublicanRepublicanRepublican 26-13Republican 59-44-2(a)RepublicanRepublicanRepublican 5-1Democratic
46.8-27.7(d)[22]
MaineDemocraticRepublicanRepublican 20-15Democratic 79-68-4(a)RepublicanIndependent(a)Tied 1-1Democratic
31.9-27.1(d)[23]
MarylandDemocraticRepublicanDemocratic 33-14Democratic 90-51DemocraticDemocraticDemocratic 7-1Democratic
54.9-25.7(d)[24]
MassachusettsDemocraticRepublicanDemocratic 34-6Democratic 126-34DemocraticDemocraticDemocratic 9-0Democratic
35.3-10.9(d)[25]
MichiganDemocraticRepublicanRepublican 27-11Republican 63-47DemocraticDemocraticRepublican 9-5Democratic
44-37(e)
MinnesotaDemocraticDemocraticDemocratic 39-28Republican 72-62DemocraticDemocraticDemocratic 5-3Democratic
44-39(e)
MississippiRepublicanRepublicanRepublican 30-22Republican 66-56RepublicanRepublicanRepublican 3-1Republican
46-38(e)
MissouriRepublicanDemocraticRepublican 25-9Republican 118-44-1(a)DemocraticRepublicanRepublican 6-2Republican
44-39(e)
MontanaRepublicanDemocraticRepublican 29-21Republican 59-41DemocraticRepublicanRepublican 1-0Republican
51-33(e)
NebraskaRepublicanRepublicanUnicameral nonpartisan legislature(c)RepublicanRepublicanRepublican 2-1Republican
48.3-30.9(d)[26]
NevadaDemocraticRepublicanRepublican 11-10Republican 27-15DemocraticRepublicanRepublican 3-1Democratic
39.7-34.6(d)[27]
New HampshireDemocraticDemocraticRepublican 14-10Republican 239-160-1(a)DemocraticRepublicanTied 1-1Republican
30.1-27.2[28]
New JerseyDemocraticRepublicanDemocratic 24-16Democratic 48-32DemocraticDemocraticTied 6-6Democratic
32.7-19.7(d)[29]
New MexicoDemocraticRepublicanDemocratic 25-17Republican 37-33DemocraticDemocraticDemocratic 2-1Democratic
46.6-31.2(d)[30]
New YorkDemocraticDemocraticCoalition
38(f)-23-2(g)
Democratic 106-44DemocraticDemocraticDemocratic 18-9Democratic
49.4-23.9(d)[31]
North CarolinaRepublicanRepublicanRepublican 34-16Republican 74-46RepublicanRepublicanRepublican 10-3Democratic
41.7-30.4(d)[32]
North DakotaRepublicanRepublicanRepublican 32-15Republican 71-23RepublicanDemocraticRepublican 1-0Republican
47-36(e)
OhioDemocraticRepublicanRepublican 23-10Republican 65-34DemocraticRepublicanRepublican 12-4Republican
42-41(e)
OklahomaRepublicanRepublicanRepublican 40-8Republican 72-29RepublicanRepublicanRepublican 5-0Democratic
43.7-43.6(d)[33]
OregonDemocraticDemocraticDemocratic 18-12Democratic 35-25DemocraticDemocraticDemocratic 4-1Democratic
37.8-29.9(d)[34]
PennsylvaniaDemocraticDemocraticRepublican 30-20Republican 119-84DemocraticRepublicanRepublican 13-5Democratic
49.5-36.7(d)[35]
Rhode IslandDemocraticDemocraticDemocratic 32-5-1(a)Democratic 63-11-1(a)DemocraticDemocraticDemocratic 2-0Democratic
41.5-10.9(d)[36]
South CarolinaRepublicanRepublicanRepublican 28-18Republican 78-46RepublicanRepublicanRepublican 6-1Republican
44-39(e)
South DakotaRepublicanRepublicanRepublican 27-8Republican 58-12RepublicanRepublicanRepublican 1-0Republican
46.2-33.8(d)[37]
TennesseeRepublicanRepublicanRepublican 27-6Republican 73-26RepublicanRepublicanRepublican 7-2Republican
47-35(e)
TexasRepublicanRepublicanRepublican 20-11Republican 98-52RepublicanRepublicanRepublican 25-11Republican
41-37(e)
UtahRepublicanRepublicanRepublican 23-4-2(b)Republican 62-13RepublicanRepublicanRepublican 4-0Republican
59-26(e)
VermontDemocraticDemocraticDemocratic 20-9-1(a)Democratic 84-55-9(a)DemocraticIndependent(a)Democratic 1-0Democratic
47-31(e)
VirginiaDemocraticDemocraticRepublican 21-19Republican 66-33DemocraticDemocraticRepublican 8-3Republican
42-40(e)
WashingtonDemocraticDemocraticCoalition 26(f)-23Democratic 50-47-1(b)DemocraticDemocraticDemocratic 6-4Democratic
45-37(e)
West VirginiaRepublicanDemocraticRepublican 18-16Republican 64-36DemocraticRepublicanRepublican 3-0Democratic
49.4-28.9(d)[38]
WisconsinDemocraticRepublicanRepublican 19-14Republican 63-36RepublicanDemocraticRepublican 5-3Democratic
43-41(e)
WyomingRepublicanRepublicanRepublican 26-4Republican 51-9RepublicanRepublicanRepublican 1-0Republican
66.7-19.8(d)[39]
Totals
President
(2012)
U.S. Senate
(2014)
U.S. House of
Representatives (2014)
Governor
(2014)
Majority in
State Senate (2014)
Majority in
State House (2014)
Democratic 332-206Republican 54-44-2(a)Republican 247-188Republican 31-18-1Republican 36-14Republican 33-16

(a) Independent/Third Party. Independent usually caucusing with different party.

(b) Vacancy.

(c) While the Nebraska State Senate is technically non-partisan the majority of its members are Republicans.

(d) Indicated partisan breakdown numbers are from the registration-by-party figures ("active" registered voters, when applicable) from that state's registered voter statistics (late 2014 party registration figures provided whenever possible).

(e) Indicated partisan breakdown numbers are from the Party Identification by State figures for 2014 from Gallup polling (note: Gallup figures have been rounded to two significant figures on the assumption that figures from polling are less accurate than registration-by-party figures).[7]

(f) The Washington State and New York State Senates currently operate under a coalition between majority Republicans and independent Democrats.

(g) Partisans who are not caucusing with their own party in the chamber.

Regional breakdowns[edit]

Local and regional political circumstances often influence party strength.

State government[edit]

The following figure is for Governors as of January 2015:

Governor
United States Governors map.svg

The following figures for party control of state legislative chambers are as of January 2015:

State SenateState House
Upper House majorityLower House majority

Presidential election results and congressional delegations[edit]

The following is based on the results of the 2012 Presidential election:

Presidential Election
United States Presidential Election 2012.

The following are the current standings in the U.S. Senate and in the U.S. House as of the 114th Congress:

SenateHouse of Representatives
Senators' party affiliations delegation by state.Percent of members of the House of Representatives from each party by state.

Demographics[edit]

USpercentagesbystate.png

Historical party strength[edit]

The following table shows how many state legislatures were controlled outright by each party.[40]

YearDemocratsRepublicansSplit
193821196
194021178
194219243
194419243
194617254
1948191611
195019216
195216264
195419207
195622195
195830711
196027156
196225176
196432610
196623169
196820208
197023169
197226167
19743748
197635410
197831117
198029155
198234114
1984261112
198628912
198829812
199030613
199225816
1994181912
1996201811
1998201712
2000161815
2002181714
2003162112
2004172111
200520209
200724169
2008231512
200927148
201115278
201215287
201317285
201417285
201511318

The following table shows how many governorships were controlled outright by each party.[40]

YearDemocratsRepublicansIndependent
19222622
19232721
19242325
19262028
19271929
19281632
193024222
193126202
193236102
19343792
19363873
19373963
19382919
19402820
19422424
19432226
19442523
19462325
19472424
19482820
19502226
19521830
19531929
19542721
19562820
19583515
19603416
19623416
19643317
19662525
19672426
19681931
19691832
19702921
19713020
19723119
19733218
197436131
197637121
19783218
19793119
19802723
19823416
19833515
19843416
19862624
19882822
19892921
199028202
199230182
199329192
199419301
199518311
199617321
199817312
199918302
200019292
200121272
20022426
20042228
20062822
20082921
20092624
201026231
201120291
20132030
20142129
201518311

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Republicans Exceed Expectations in 2010 State Legislative Elections". National Conference of State Legislatures. November 3, 2010. Retrieved 2014-12-03. 
  2. ^ Hansen, Karen (December 2010). "Red Tide: December 2010 - A GOP wave washed over state legislatures on Election Day". National Conference of State Legislatures. Retrieved 2014-12-03. 
  3. ^ Jones, Jeffrey M. (December 2, 2014). "U.S. Partisanship Shifts to GOP After Midterms". Gallup. Retrieved 2014-12-03. 
  4. ^ Jones, Jeffrey M. (January 8, 2014). "Record-High 42% of Americans Identify as Independents". Gallup. Retrieved 2014-12-03. 
  5. ^ Jones, Jeffrey M. (January 5, 2011). "Democratic Party ID Drops in 2010, Tying 22-Year Low". Gallup. Retrieved 2012-07-13. 
  6. ^ Jones, Jeffrey M. (January 9, 2012). "Record-High 40% of Americans Identify as Independents in '11". Gallup. Retrieved 2012-05-31. 
  7. ^ a b c Jones, Jeffrey M. (February 4, 2015). "Massachusetts, Maryland Most Democratic States". Gallup. Retrieved 2015-02-12. 
  8. ^ Saad, Lydia (January 29, 2014). "Not as Many U.S. States Lean Democratic in 2013". Gallup. Retrieved 2014-12-22. 
  9. ^ Jones, Jeffrey M. (February 2, 2012). "More States Move to GOP in 2011". Gallup. Retrieved 2012-05-31. 
  10. ^ "Partisan Voter Index by State, 1994-2014" (PDF). The Cook Political Report. 2013. Retrieved 2014-12-23. 
  11. ^ For example, for earlier 2014 registration figures, see: Blumenthal, Mark; Edwards-Levy, Ariel (May 27, 2014). "HUFFPOLLSTER: A State-By-State Guide To Party Registration". Huffington Post. Retrieved 2014-12-23. .
  12. ^ "Voter Registration Statistics". State of Alaska - Division of Elections. 2014. Retrieved 2014-12-20. 
  13. ^ "Voter Registration Counts". Arizona Department of State - Office of the Secretary of State. 2014. Retrieved 2014-12-20. 
  14. ^ "Voter Registration Statistics". California Secretary of State (via: http://www.sos.ca.gov/elections/voter-registration/voter-registration-statistics/). November 2014. Retrieved 2014-12-20. 
  15. ^ "2014 Voter Registration Statistics". Colorado Secretary of State. October 2014. Retrieved 2014-12-20. 
  16. ^ "Statistics and Data". Connecticut Secretary of State. January 22, 2014. Retrieved 2014-12-20. 
  17. ^ "Voter Registration Totals". State of Delaware - Office of the State Election Commissioner. November 2014. Retrieved 2014-12-20. 
  18. ^ "Voter Registration Statistics - By Election". Florida Division of Elections. October 2014. Retrieved 2014-12-20. 
  19. ^ "Voter Registration Totals". Iowa Secretary of State. December 2014. Retrieved 2014-12-20. 
  20. ^ "Voter Registration Statistics". State of Kansas - Office of the Secretary of State. November 2014. Retrieved 2014-12-20. 
  21. ^ "Voter Registration Statistics Report" (pdf). Commonwealth of Kentucky - State Board of Elections (via: http://elect.ky.gov/statistics/Pages/registrationstatistics.aspx). November 18, 2014. Retrieved 2014-11-28. 
  22. ^ "Registration Statistics - Statewide". Louisiana Secretary of State. November 2014. Retrieved 2014-12-20. 
  23. ^ "Voter Registration Data, Election Data and Online Forms". State of Maine - Department of the Secretary of State - Bureau of Corporations, Elections and Commissions. November 2014. Retrieved 2014-12-20. 
  24. ^ "Voter Registration Statistics". Maryland.gov - The State Board of Elections. November 2014. Retrieved 2014-12-20. 
  25. ^ "Enrollment Breakdown as of 10/15/2014" (pdf). The Commonwealth of Massachusetts (via: http://www.sec.state.ma.us/ele/ele14/ele14idx.htm). October 27, 2014. Retrieved 2014-11-28. 
  26. ^ "VR Statistics Count Report - Count of Registrants Eligible to Vote" (pdf). Nebraska Secretary of State (via: http://www.sos.ne.gov/elec/2014/elections.html). October 28, 2014. Retrieved 2014-12-20. 
  27. ^ "November 2014 Voter Registration Statistics". Nevada Secretary of State (via: http://nvsos.gov/index.aspx?page=85). December 1, 2014. Retrieved 2014-12-20. 
  28. ^ "Party Registration/Names on Checklist History". State of New Hampshire - Secretary of State - Elections Division. January 15, 2014. Retrieved 2014-12-20. 
  29. ^ "2014 Election Information - Statewide Voter Registration Statistics". State of New Jersey - Department of State. 2014. Retrieved 2014-12-20. 
  30. ^ "New Mexico Voter Registration Statistics Report" (pdf). New Mexico Secretary of State (via: http://www.sos.state.nm.us/Elections_Data/2014-voter-registration-data.aspx). October 20, 2014. Retrieved 2014-11-29. 
  31. ^ "Enrollment by County". New York State - Board of Elections. November 1, 2014. Retrieved 2014-12-20. 
  32. ^ "Enrollment by County". North Carolina State Board of Elections. November 22, 2014. Retrieved 2014-12-20. 
  33. ^ "Current Registration Statistics by County" (pdf). Oklahoma State Election Board (via: http://www.ok.gov/elections/Voter_Info/Voter_Registration_Statistics/index.html). November 1, 2014. Retrieved 2014-12-01. 
  34. ^ "Election Statistics - Voter Registrations and Election Participation". Oregon Secretary of State. 2014. Retrieved 2014-12-10. 
  35. ^ "Voter Registration Statistics". Pennsylvania Department of State. February 20, 2014. Retrieved 2014-12-10. 
  36. ^ Parker, Paul Edward (November 2, 2014). "R.I.’s voter database: More than half live in and around Providence". Providence Journal. Retrieved 2014-12-01. 
  37. ^ "Voter Registration Tracking". South Dakota Secretary of State. November 3, 2014. Retrieved 2014-12-20. 
  38. ^ "Voter Registration Totals". West Virginia Secretary of State. November 2014. Retrieved 2014-12-20. 
  39. ^ "Voter Registration Statistics" (pdf). Wyoming Secretary of State (via: http://soswy.state.wy.us/elections/vrstats.aspx). November 4, 2014. Retrieved 2014-12-20. 
  40. ^ a b "U.S. Census Bureau, The 2011 Statistical Abstract, The National Data Book, Elections: Gubernatorial and State Legislatures". www.census.gov/compendia/statab/. January 6, 2011. Retrieved 2011-01-25.