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 best 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 other states.

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 2010, Gallup polling found that 31% of Americans identified as Democrats (tying a 22-year low), 29% as Republicans, and 38% as independents.[3] By 2011, Gallup found that Americans identifying as independents had risen to 40 percent. Gallup's historical data show that the proportion of independents in 2011 was the largest in 60 years. This increase came at the expense of Republican identification, which dropped to 27%, while Democratic identification held steady from 2011. Nevertheless, more American independents leaned to the Republican Party when compared to the Democratic Party. Combining leaners with each party's core identifiers, for 2011 the parties ended up tied at 45 percent.[4]

In 2011, Gallup found seventeen states safely Republican or leaning Republican, up from 10 in 2010 and 5 in 2008. A total of 19 states (including the District of Columbia) were safe or leaning Democratic, down from 23 in 2010 and 36 in 2008. 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". In 15 states no party had a clear political advantage for 2011. 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."[5]

Rasmussen[edit]

Monthly Rasmussen Reports tracking of partisan trends found that in June 2012, 35.4% identified as Republicans, 34.0% as Democrats and 30.5% were unaffiliated. These numbers changed only slightly from the previous month.[6]

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 2010, 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 2010 whenever possible) where indicated. Only Wyoming has a majority of registered voters identifying themselves as Republicans; five states have a majority of registered voters identifying themselves as Democrats: Maryland, Kentucky, West Virginia, Pennsylvania and Louisiana.

State 2012 Presidential
Election
Governor State Senate State House Senior
U.S. Senator
Junior
U.S. Senator
U.S. House of Representatives Demographics
Alabama Republican Republican Republican 22-12-1(a) Republican 65-39-1(b) Republican Republican Republican 6-1 Republican
48-34
Alaska Republican Republican Republican 13-7 Republican 25-15 Republican Democratic Republican 1-0 Republican
26-15(d)
Arizona Republican Republican Republican 17-13 Republican 36-24 Republican Republican Democratic 5-4 Republican
36-32(d)
Arkansas Republican Democratic Republican 21-14 Republican 51-49 Democratic Republican Republican 4-0 Democratic
41-31
California Democratic Democratic Democratic 28-12 Democratic 54-25-1(b) Democratic Democratic Democratic 38-15 Democratic
44-31(d)
Colorado Democratic Democratic Democratic 18-17 Democratic 37-28 Democratic Democratic Republican 4-3 Tied
32-32(d)
Connecticut Democratic Democratic Democratic 22-14 Democratic 98-53 Democratic Democratic Democratic 5-0 Democratic
37-20(d)
Delaware Democratic Democratic Democratic 13-8 Democratic 27-14 Democratic Democratic Democratic 1-0 Democratic
47-29(d)
Florida Democratic Republican Republican 26-14 Republican 75-45 Democratic Republican Republican 17-10 Democratic
41-36(d)
Georgia Republican Republican Republican 38-18 Republican 119-60-1(a) Republican Republican Republican 9-5 Republican
44-32
Hawaii Democratic Democratic Democratic 24-1 Democratic 44-7 Democratic Democratic Democratic 2-0 Democratic
40-23
Idaho Republican Republican Republican 29-6 Republican 57-13 Republican Republican Republican 2-0 Republican
50-22
Illinois Democratic Democratic Democratic 40-19 Democratic 71-47 Democratic Republican Democratic 12-6 Democratic
46-31
Indiana Republican Republican Republican 37-13 Republican 69-31 Republican Democratic Republican 7-2 Republican
46-32
Iowa Democratic Republican Democratic 26-24 Republican 53-47 Republican Democratic Tied 2-2 Tied
32-32(d)
Kansas Republican Republican Republican 31-9 Republican 92-33 Republican Republican Republican 4-0 Republican
44-27(d)
Kentucky Republican Democratic Republican 22-15-1(a) Democratic 55-45 Republican Republican Republican 5-1 Democratic
54.7-38[7]
Louisiana Republican Republican Republican 26-13 Republican 59-44-2(a) Democratic Republican Republican 5-1 Democratic
51-26(d)
Maine Democratic Republican Democratic 19-15-1(a) Democratic 89-58-4(a) Republican Independent(a) Democratic 2-0 Democratic
33-28(d)
Maryland Democratic Democratic Democratic 35-12 Democratic 98-43 Democratic Democratic Democratic 7-1 Democratic
56-27(d)
Massachusetts Democratic Democratic Democratic 36-4 Democratic 131-29 Democratic Democratic Democratic 9-0 Democratic
37-11(d)
Michigan Democratic Republican Republican 26-12 Republican 59-51 Democratic Democratic Republican 9-5 Democratic
40-33
Minnesota Democratic Democratic Democratic 39-28 Democratic 73-61 Democratic Democratic Democratic 5-3 Democratic
46-30
Mississippi Republican Republican Republican 30-22 Republican 64-58 Republican Republican Republican 3-1 Republican
47-38
Missouri Republican Democratic Republican 28-10 Republican 110-53 Democratic Republican Republican 6-2 Republican
39-37
Montana Republican Democratic Republican 27-23 Republican 63-37 Democratic Democratic Republican 1-0 Republican
39-32
Nebraska Republican Republican Unicameral nonpartisan legislature(c) Republican Republican Republican 3-0 Republican
48-34(d)
Nevada Democratic Republican Democratic 11-10 Democratic 27-15 Democratic Republican Tied 2-2 Democratic
42-37(d)
New Hampshire Democratic Democratic Republican 13-11 Democratic 221-179 Democratic Republican Democratic 2-0 Tied
29-29(f)
New Jersey Democratic Republican Democratic 24-16 Democratic 48-32 Democratic Democratic Tied 6-6 Democratic
33-20(d)
New Mexico Democratic Republican Democratic 27-15 Democratic 38-32 Democratic Democratic Democratic 2-1 Democratic
48-32(d)
New York Democratic Democratic Coalition 36-27 Democratic 105-44-1(a) Democratic Democratic Democratic 21-6 Democratic
49-25(d)
North Carolina Republican Republican Republican 32-18 Republican 77-43 Republican Democratic Republican 9-4 Democratic
45-32(d)
North Dakota Republican Republican Republican 33-13-1(b) Republican 71-23 Republican Democratic Republican 1-0 Republican
38-29
Ohio Democratic Republican Republican 23-10 Republican 60-39 Democratic Republican Republican 12-4 Republican
37-36
Oklahoma Republican Republican Republican 36-12 Republican 72-29 Republican Republican Republican 5-0 Democratic
49-40(d)
Oregon Democratic Democratic Democratic 16-14 Democratic 34-26 Democratic Democratic Democratic 4-1 Democratic
42-32(d)
Pennsylvania Democratic Republican Republican 27-23 Republican 110-93 Democratic Republican Republican 13-5 Democratic
51-37(d)
Rhode Island Democratic Democratic Democratic 32-5-1(a) Democratic 69-6 Democratic Democratic Democratic 2-0 Democratic
38-11(d)
South Carolina Republican Republican Republican 28-18 Republican 76-46 Republican Republican Republican 6-1 Republican
44-33
South Dakota Republican Republican Republican 28-7 Republican 53-17 Democratic Republican Republican 1-0 Republican
46-38(d)
Tennessee Republican Republican Republican 26-7 Republican 71-27-1(a) Republican Republican Republican 7-2 Republican
38-34
Texas Republican Republican Republican 19-12 Republican 95-55 Republican Republican Republican 24-12 Republican
45-21
Utah Republican Republican Republican 24-5 Republican 61-14 Republican Republican Republican 3-1 Republican
56-20
Vermont Democratic Democratic Democratic 23-7 Democratic 98-44-8(a) Democratic Independent(a) Democratic 1-0 Democratic
29-27
Virginia Democratic Democratic Republican 20-19-1(b) Republican 67-33 Democratic Democratic Republican 8-3 Republican
39-36
Washington Democratic Democratic Coalition 26-23 Democratic 55-43 Democratic Democratic Democratic 6-4 Democratic
39-29
West Virginia Republican Democratic Democratic 24-10 Democratic 54-46 Democratic Democratic Republican 2-1 Democratic
54-29(d)
Wisconsin Democratic Republican Republican 18-15 Republican 60-39 Republican Democratic Republican 5-3 Democratic
38-34
Wyoming Republican Republican Republican 26-4 Republican 52-8 Republican Republican Republican 1-0 Republican
63-24(d)
Totals
President U.S. Senate U.S. House of Representatives Governor Majority in State Senate Majority in State House
Democratic 332-206(f) Democratic 55-45 Republican 234-201 Republican 29-21 Republican 30(c)-18-2(e) Republican 28-21

(a) Independent/Third Party. Independent 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 from that state's registered voter statistics (late 2010 party registration figures provided whenever possible).

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

(f) Results from 2012 elections.

Regional breakdowns[edit]

Local and regional political circumstances often influence party strength.

State government[edit]

The following figure is for Governors as of January 2014:

Governor
United States Governors map.svg

The following figures for party control of state legislative chambers are as of February 2013:

State Senate State House
Upper House majority Lower 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 113th Congress:

Senate House 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.[8]

Year Democrats Republicans Split
1938 21 19 6
1940 21 17 8
1942 19 24 3
1944 19 24 3
1946 17 25 4
1948 19 16 11
1950 19 21 6
1952 16 26 4
1954 19 20 7
1956 22 19 5
1958 30 7 11
1960 27 15 6
1962 25 17 6
1964 32 6 10
1966 23 16 9
1968 20 20 8
1970 23 16 9
1972 26 16 7
1974 37 4 8
1976 35 4 10
1978 31 11 7
1980 29 15 5
1982 34 11 4
1984 26 11 12
1986 28 9 12
1988 29 8 12
1990 30 6 13
1992 25 8 16
1994 18 19 12
1996 20 18 11
1998 20 17 12
2000 16 18 15
2002 18 17 14
2003 16 21 12
2004 17 21 11
2005 20 20 9
2007 24 16 9
2008 23 15 12
2009 27 14 8
2011 15 27 8
2012 15 28 7
2013 17 28 5
2014 17 27 6

The following table shows how many governorships were controlled outright by each party.[8]

Year Democrats Republicans Independent
1922 26 22
1923 27 21
1924 23 25
1926 20 28
1927 19 29
1928 16 32
1930 24 22 2
1931 26 20 2
1932 36 10 2
1934 37 9 2
1936 38 7 3
1937 39 6 3
1938 29 19
1940 28 20
1942 24 24
1943 22 26
1944 25 23
1946 23 25
1947 24 24
1948 28 20
1950 22 26
1952 18 30
1953 19 29
1954 27 21
1956 28 20
1958 35 15
1960 34 16
1962 34 16
1964 33 17
1966 25 25
1967 24 26
1968 19 31
1969 18 32
1970 29 21
1971 30 20
1972 31 19
1973 32 18
1974 36 13 1
1976 37 12 1
1978 32 18
1979 31 19
1980 27 23
1982 34 16
1983 35 15
1984 34 16
1986 26 24
1988 28 22
1989 29 21
1990 28 20 2
1992 30 18 2
1993 29 19 2
1994 19 30 1
1995 18 31 1
1996 17 32 1
1998 17 31 2
1999 18 30 2
2000 19 29 2
2001 21 27 2
2002 24 26
2004 22 28
2006 28 22
2008 29 21
2009 26 24
2010 26 23 1
2011 20 29 1
2013 20 30
2014 21 29

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Republicans Exceed Expectations in 2010 State Legislative Elections - NCLS News (National Conference of State Legislatures)". www.ncls.org. 2010-11-03. Retrieved 2011-01-22. 
  2. ^ "Red Tide: December 2010, A GOP wave washed over state legislatures on Election Day. - NCLS Election & Campaigns (National Conference of State Legislatures)". www.ncls.org. 2010-11-12. Retrieved 2011-01-22. 
  3. ^ "Democratic Party ID Drops in 2010, Tying 22-Year Low". Gallup. 5 January 2011. Retrieved 13 July 2012. 
  4. ^ "Record-High 40% of Americans Identify as Independents in '11". Gallup. 9 January 2012. Retrieved 31 May 2012. 
  5. ^ "More States Move to GOP in 2011". Gallup. 2 February 2012. Retrieved 31 May 2012. 
  6. ^ "Partisan Trends". Rasmussen Reports. 2 July 2012. Retrieved 13 July 2012. 
  7. ^ http://elect.ky.gov/SiteCollectionDocuments/Election%20Statistics/JAN13STD.txt
  8. ^ a b "U.S. Census Bureau, The 2011 Statistical Abstract, The National Data Book, Elections: Gubernatorial and State Legislatures". www.census.gov/compendia/statab/. 2011-01-06. Retrieved 2011-01-25.