Ballotpedia:Who Runs the States, Partisanship Results, Partisan Control of Governorships

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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 the report pertaining to the Partisan Control of Governorships.

Partisan Control of Governorships

Figure 1:Line graph depicting partisan control of governorships from 1992-2013.

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.

Figure 2: Map depicting the percentage of times a party held a state’s governorship.

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.

See also

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