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Ballotpedia:Who Runs the States, Part Three, Comparing Partisanship and the State Quality of Life Index (SQLI) Rankings

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Who Runs the States

Main Report Pages
Main PagePart 1Partisanship InfographicPart 2Part 3

Partisanship Results Report (Part 1)
Executive SummaryState Partisanship AnalysisPartisan Control of GovernorshipsPartisan Control of State LegislaturesPartisan Control of State SenatesPartisan Control of State HousesState Government TrifectasOverall Partisan Control: Bright, Medium and Soft StatesChanges of Partisan Domination over 22 yearsYear-to-Year Changes in State Partisan ControlTrifectas and Presidential Election PatternsConclusionMethodologyAppendix AAppendix B

State Quality of Life Index (SQLI) Report (Part 2)
Executive SummaryState Quality of Life Index (SQLI)About the IndexOverall RankingsDramatic Changes from 1st Half to 2nd HalfIndividual IndicatorsMethodologyAppendices

Partisanship and (SQLI) Overlay Report (Part 3)
IntroductionComparing Partisanship and the State Quality of Life Index (SQLI) RankingsDescription of the dataTrends and correlationsMethodologyKey Values for Fifty-State RegressionsAppendices
Praise or blame is extended to political parties for the economic, educational, health and other quality of life outcomes that result from the policies those parties enact into law. To better understand which political party enjoys power in each of the states, Ballotpedia has analyzed state government control from 1992-2013 using the concept of a "partisan trifecta." A partisan trifecta is defined as when a state's governorship and legislative chambers are controlled by the same political party.

The two major political parties claim that their policies will lead to better outcomes. What does the data show?

At Ballotpedia, we explored these issues in a three-part study, Who Runs the States.

This page contains the section of Part Three pertaining to the Comparing Partisanship and the State Quality of Life Index (SQLI) Rankings.

Comparing Partisanship and the State Quality of Life Index (SQLI) Rankings

After generating results for the partisanship and SQLI in parts one and two, we compared the two sets to look for trends relating to partisan control and state economic performance. Before we dive into the report, the authors would like to provide two notes:

First, the Democratic Party or the Republican Party controlling all three power positions in a state does not imply that the policymakers took advantage of their trifecta position to implement wholly "progressive policies" (i.e. "policies enacted by Democrats") or wholly "conservative policies” (i.e. "policies enacted by Republicans"). To assess specific policy impact on the well-being of the people in a state, a different analysis contrasting well-being measures to the actual policies implemented in a state would have to be conducted.[1]

Second, we would like to provide a note about causation and correlation. The trends in the data we describe are correlation, and they should not necessarily be interpreted as causation. State economic performance is influenced by a number of factors that are independent of partisanship—such as geography and weather. Even though the trends described in this study are not necessarily causal, they do provide insight into the relationship between economic performance and partisan control. It is possible that voters with a certain quality of life may tend to support a particular party or divided government, in which case political control may be determined by quality of life, rather than vice versa.

In the spirit of transparency, the authors encourage readers to take the data used for this report and use it for other research purposes.[2][3]

See also


  1. American Spectator "Every Governor a Walker," September, 2012
  2. The results of the overlay of the partisanship data and SQLI would change if someone chose significantly different datasets than we did to measure quality-of-life. Our results are primarily of interest to someone who agrees that the datasets we selected would be the best way to measure SQLI. In July 2013, Political Science Professor Emily Shaw of Thomas College disagreed with using the State Government Spending/GDP as part of our SQLI index. We have created a spreadsheet that shows the overall rankings of the states on our aggregated index if you remove that index. Here’s that spreadsheet with the different results. Thirty-three states stayed within three points of their prior ranking while 17 states changed by more than three spots. If you would like to see how the states compare to each other adding or subtracting various parts of our SQLI Index, please email us.
  3. Other indices use a similar methodology to ours. In January 2014, Politico released a 50-state ranking based on 14 indices. For details on its results, see this link.

External links