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, for 2011 the parties ended up tied at 45 percent.[6]

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."[7]

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.[8]

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 Partisan Split (as of 2010)
Alabama Republican Republican Republican 26-8-1(a) Republican 72-33 Republican Republican Republican 6-1 Republican
48-34
Alaska Republican Independent Republican 14-6 Republican 23-16-1(a) Republican Republican Republican 1-0 Republican
26-15(d)[9]
Arizona Republican Republican Republican 19-11 Republican 38-22 Republican Republican Republican 5-4 Republican
36-32(d)[10]
Arkansas Republican Republican Republican 21-14 Republican 64-36 Republican Republican Republican 4-0 Democratic
41-31
California Democratic Democratic Democratic 25-14-1(b) Democratic 52-28 Democratic Democratic Democratic 39-14 Democratic
44-31(d)[11]
Colorado Democratic Democratic Republican 18-17 Democratic 34-31 Democratic Republican Republican 4-3 Tied
32-32(d)[12]
Connecticut Democratic Democratic Democratic 21-15 Democratic 87-64 Democratic Democratic Democratic 5-0 Democratic
37-20(d)[13]
Delaware Democratic Democratic Democratic 12-9 Democratic 25-16 Democratic Democratic Democratic 1-0 Democratic
47-29(d)[14]
Florida Democratic Republican Republican 26-14 Republican 82-37-1(b) Democratic Republican Republican 17-10 Democratic
41-36(d)[15]
Georgia Republican Republican Republican 38-18 Republican 120-59-1(a) Republican Republican Republican 10-4 Republican
44-32
Hawaii Democratic Democratic Democratic 24-1 Democratic 43-8 Democratic Democratic Democratic 2-0 Democratic
40-23
Idaho Republican Republican Republican 28-7 Republican 56-14 Republican Republican Republican 2-0 Republican
50-22
Illinois Democratic Republican Democratic 39-20 Democratic 71-47 Democratic Republican Democratic 10-8 Democratic
46-31
Indiana Republican Republican Republican 40-10 Republican 70-30 Republican Democratic Republican 7-2 Republican
46-32
Iowa Democratic Republican Democratic 26-24 Republican 57-43 Republican Republican Republican 3-1 Tied
32-32(d)[16]
Kansas Republican Republican Republican 32-8 Republican 98-27 Republican Republican Republican 4-0 Republican
44-27(d)[17]
Kentucky Republican Democratic Republican 26-12 Democratic 54-46 Republican Republican Republican 5-1 Democratic
53.4-38.8(d)[18]
Louisiana Republican Republican Republican 26-13 Republican 59-44-2(a) Republican Republican Republican 5-1 Democratic
51-26(d)[19]
Maine Democratic Republican Republican 20-15 Democratic 79-68-4(a) Republican Independent(a) Tied 1-1 Democratic
33-28(d)[20]
Maryland Democratic Republican Democratic 33-14 Democratic 90-51 Democratic Democratic Democratic 7-1 Democratic
56-27(d)[21]
Massachusetts Democratic Republican Democratic 34-6 Democratic 125-35 Democratic Democratic Democratic 9-0 Democratic
35.3-10.9(d)[22]
Michigan Democratic Republican Republican 27-11 Republican 63-47 Democratic Democratic Republican 9-5 Democratic
40-33
Minnesota Democratic Democratic Democratic 39-28 Republican 72-62 Democratic Democratic Democratic 5-3 Democratic
46-30
Mississippi Republican Republican Republican 30-22 Republican 66-56 Republican Republican Republican 3-1 Republican
47-38
Missouri Republican Democratic Republican 29-9 Republican 119-45 Democratic Republican Republican 6-2 Republican
39-37
Montana Republican Democratic Republican 29-21 Republican 59-41 Democratic Republican Republican 1-0 Republican
39-32
Nebraska Republican Republican Unicameral nonpartisan legislature(c) Republican Republican Republican 2-1 Republican
48-34(d)[23]
Nevada Democratic Republican Republican 11-10 Republican 27-15 Democratic Republican Republican 3-1 Democratic
42-37(d)[24]
New Hampshire Democratic Democratic Republican 14-10 Republican 239-160-1(a) Democratic Republican Tied 1-1 Tied
29-29(f)[25]
New Jersey Democratic Republican Democratic 24-16 Democratic 48-32 Democratic Democratic Tied 6-6 Democratic
33-20(d)[26]
New Mexico Democratic Republican Democratic 25-17 Republican 37-33 Democratic Democratic Democratic 2-1 Democratic
46.6-31.2(d)[27]
New York Democratic Democratic Republican 32-31 Democratic 106-44 Democratic Democratic Democratic 18-9 Democratic
49-25(d)[28]
North Carolina Republican Republican Republican 34-16 Republican 74-46 Republican Republican Republican 10-3 Democratic
45-32(d)[29]
North Dakota Republican Republican Republican 31-16 Republican 71-23 Republican Democratic Republican 1-0 Republican
38-29
Ohio Democratic Republican Republican 23-10 Republican 65-34 Democratic Republican Republican 12-4 Republican
37-36
Oklahoma Republican Republican Republican 40-8 Republican 72-29 Republican Republican Republican 5-0 Democratic
43.7-43.6(d)[30]
Oregon Democratic Democratic Democratic 18-12 Democratic 35-25 Democratic Democratic Democratic 4-1 Democratic
42-32(d)[31]
Pennsylvania Democratic Democratic Republican 30-20 Republican 119-84 Democratic Republican Republican 13-5 Democratic
51-37(d)[32]
Rhode Island Democratic Democratic Democratic 32-5-1(a) Democratic 63-11-1(a) Democratic Democratic Democratic 2-0 Democratic
41.5-10.9(d)[33]
South Carolina Republican Republican Republican 28-18 Republican 78-46 Republican Republican Republican 6-1 Republican
44-33
South Dakota Republican Republican Republican 27-8 Republican 58-12 Republican Republican Republican 1-0 Republican
46-38(d)[34]
Tennessee Republican Republican Republican 27-6 Republican 73-26 Republican Republican Republican 7-2 Republican
38-34
Texas Republican Republican Republican 20-11 Republican 98-52 Republican Republican Republican 25-11 Republican
45-21
Utah Republican Republican Republican 25-4 Republican 60-15 Republican Republican Republican 4-0 Republican
56-20
Vermont Democratic Democratic Democratic 20-9-1(a) Democratic 84-55-9(a) Democratic Independent(a) Democratic 1-0 Democratic
29-27
Virginia Democratic Democratic Republican 21-19 Republican 67-32-1(b) Democratic Democratic Republican 8-3 Republican
39-36
Washington Democratic Democratic Republican 25-24 Democratic 50-47-1(b) Democratic Democratic Democratic 6-4 Democratic
39-29
West Virginia Republican Democratic Republican 18-16 Republican 64-36 Democratic Republican Republican 3-0 Democratic
54-29(d)[35]
Wisconsin Democratic Republican Republican 19-14 Republican 63-36 Republican Democratic Republican 5-3 Democratic
38-34
Wyoming Republican Republican Republican 26-4 Republican 51-9 Republican Republican Republican 1-0 Republican
63-24(d)[36]
Totals
President U.S. Senate U.S. House of Representatives Governor Majority in State Senate Majority in State House
Democratic 332-206(f) Republican 54-44-2(a) Republican 247-188 Republican 31-18-1 Republican 36-14 Republican 33-16

(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 December 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.[37]

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 28 5
2015 11 31 8

The following table shows how many governorships were controlled outright by each party.[37]

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
2015 18 31 1

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. ^ Jones, Jeffrey M. (February 2, 2012). "More States Move to GOP in 2011". Gallup. Retrieved 2012-05-31. 
  8. ^ "Partisan Trends". Rasmussen Reports. July 2, 2012. Retrieved 2012-07-13. 
  9. ^ "Voter Registration Statistics". State of Alaska - Division of Elections. 2014. Retrieved 2014-11-28. 
  10. ^ "Voter Registration Counts". Arizona Department of State - Office of the Secretary of State. 2014. Retrieved 2014-11-28. 
  11. ^ "Voter Registration Statistics". California Secretary of State. November 2014. Retrieved 2014-11-28. 
  12. ^ "2014 Voter Registration Statistics". Colorado Secretary of State. October 2014. Retrieved 2014-11-28. 
  13. ^ "Statistics and Data". Connecticut Secretary of State. January 22, 2014. Retrieved 2014-11-28. 
  14. ^ "Voter Registration Totals". State of Delaware - Office of the State Election Commissioner. November 2014. Retrieved 2014-11-28. 
  15. ^ "Voter Registration Statistics - By Election". Florida Division of Elections. October 2014. Retrieved 2014-11-28. 
  16. ^ "Voter Registration Totals". Iowa Secretary of State. July 2014. Retrieved 2014-11-28. 
  17. ^ "Voter Registration Statistics". State of Kansas - Office of the Secretary of State. November 2014. Retrieved 2014-11-28. 
  18. ^ "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. 
  19. ^ "Registration Statistics - Statewide". Louisiana Secretary of State. November 2014. Retrieved 2014-11-28. 
  20. ^ "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 2014-11-28. 
  21. ^ "Voter Registration Statistics". Maryland.gov - The State Board of Elections. November 2014. Retrieved 2014-11-28. 
  22. ^ "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. 
  23. ^ "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 2014-11-29. 
  24. ^ "Voter Registration Statistics". Nevada Secretary of State. 2014. Retrieved 2014-11-29. 
  25. ^ "Party Registration/Names on Checklist History". State of New Hampshire - Secretary of State - Elections Division. January 15, 2014. Retrieved 2014-11-28. 
  26. ^ "2014 Election Information - Statewide Voter Registration Statistics". State of New Jersey - Department of State. 2014. Retrieved 2014-11-29. 
  27. ^ "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. 
  28. ^ "Enrollment by County". New York State - Board of Elections. November 1, 2014. Retrieved 2014-11-29. 
  29. ^ "Enrollment by County". North Carolina State Board of Elections. November 22, 2014. Retrieved 2014-11-29. 
  30. ^ "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. 
  31. ^ "Election Statistics - Voter Registrations and Election Participation". Oregon Secretary of State. 2014. Retrieved 2014-12-01. 
  32. ^ "Voter Registration Statistics". Pennsylvania Department of State. February 20, 2014. Retrieved 2014-12-01. 
  33. ^ 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. 
  34. ^ "Voter Registration Tracking". South Dakota Secretary of State. November 3, 2014. Retrieved 2014-11-30. 
  35. ^ "Voter Registration Totals". West Virginia Secretary of State. October 2014. Retrieved 2014-11-30. 
  36. ^ "Voter Registration Statistics". Wyoming Secretary of State. November 4, 2014. Retrieved 2014-11-30. 
  37. ^ 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.