Ballotpedia:Who Runs the States, Partisanship Results, Partisan Control of Governorships
The two major political parties claim that their policies will lead to better outcomes. What does the data show?
At Ballotpedia, we are exploring these issues in a three-part study, Who Runs the States.
This page contains the section of the report pertaining to the Partisan Control of Governorships.
Partisan Control of Governorships
From 1992 to 2013, 46 states had at least one governor from each of the two major parties. Only Oregon and Washington did not have a Republican governor, and only Utah and South Dakota did not have a Democratic governor. On average, states spent 11.7 of the 22 years (53.3 percent) under Republican governors, 9.9 years (44.8 percent) under Democrats, and 0.4 years (1.9 percent) under governors with other partisan affiliations.
Among the 48 states which had at least one Democratic governor during this period, 15 states had Democratic governors more often than they had Republican governors. Seven states had Democratic governors more than 80 percent of the time. Aside from Washington and Oregon, Delaware had Democratic governors for 21 years (95 percent), and North Carolina had Democratic governors for 20 years (91 percent). The Democratic Party controlled its highest number of governorships (31) in 1993 and its lowest number (17) from 1997 to 1999.
As for the 48 states which had at least one Republican governor during this period, 26 states had Republican governors for more years than they had Democratic governors. Eight states had Republican governors more than 80 percent of time. In addition to 100-percent Republican gubernatorial streaks of Utah and South Dakota, Republicans held North Dakota's governorship for 21 years (95 percent), with Democratic Governor George A. Sinner's final year (1992) as the only exception. The other five states were Idaho, Mississippi, Ohio, South Carolina, and Texas. In 1997 and 1998, the Republican Party controlled the most governorships (32) of any of this study's years. The United States had the fewest Republican governors, only 17, in 1993.
Eight states' governorships were occupied by Democrats and Republicans for equal amounts of time, 11 years for each party. Maine's governorship was Democratic for eight years, independent for eight years, and Republican for six years.
Only seven states had a governor outside of the two major parties. No state had more than one. The states with non-major party governors were Alaska (Wally Hickel, Alaskan Independence Party), Connecticut (Lowell P. Weicker, A Connecticut Party), Florida (Charlie Crist, no party affiliation), Maine (Angus King, independent), Minnesota (Jesse Ventura, Reform Party and then Independence Party), and Rhode Island (Lincoln Chafee, Independent). With King's two gubernatorial terms, Maine's governorship was in non-major-party hands for eight years (36 percent of the time), more than any other state. The United States never had more than two non-major-party governors in the same year, which happened in 1992 and 1993, and again from 1999 through 2002. From 2003 through 2009, there were no non-major-party governors.