Ballotpedia:Who Runs the States, Partisanship Results, Executive Summary
Some states are characterized as "red" and others as "blue". This characterization is typically based on how the state’s electorate voted in the most recent presidential election. This paper proposes an alternative method of identifying the partisan dispositions of states. We do this by looking for "partisan trifectas": instances where a state elects the same party to the Office of Governor as it does to control of its two legislative chambers.
The "partisan trifecta" analysis puts seven states in a different partisan column than the presidential vote analysis does: In 2012 voters in six states with Republican trifectas cast their ballot for President Obama. West Virginia on the other hand voted Republican for president while maintaining a Democratic trifecta for its state government.
We also studied the partisan breakdown of the executive and legislative branches of state government from 1992 to 2013. The trifecta analysis over this period shows a notable trend toward one-party control of state governments. At the outset of the study period (1992), 18 states had trifectas while 31 states had divided governments. In 2013, only 13 states have divided governments, while single-party trifectas hold sway in 36 states, the most in the 22 years we studied. The number of states with trifectas doubled between 1992 and 2013.
The partisan trifecta analysis also identifies six states that have experienced dramatic changes in partisan state government control from the first 11 years of the study to the last 11 years of the study: 3 states that moved decisively from Republican control to Democratic control (list the 3) and three states that moved decisively in the other direction (list the 3). Studying the partisan composition of state governments as we do also allows a clean way to assess whether a state is "moving red" or "moving blue". We've identified 8 states that are clearly "moving blue" over the 22-year period and 8 states that are clearly "moving red".
Finally, our review of partisan control of state governments from 1992 through 2013 provides a superior way of assessing just how "red" or "blue" a state is. Is a state "bright blue", "medium blue" or "soft blue"? Is a state "bright red", "medium red" or "soft red"? To the extent that pundits, journalists or members of the voting public want to praise or blame political parties for the real-world economic, educational, health or other quality-of-life outcomes in a particular state, the degree of "redness" or "blueness" of that state’s partisan composition may be relevant. This report is Part One of a three-part study. Part Two aggregates a variety of state ranking indices to create a quality of life index for the 50 states. Part Three overlays the partisanship data with the quality of life index.
- Ballotpedia:Who runs the states
- Ballotpedia:Who Runs the States, Part One: State Partisanship
- Full report PDF
- State government trifectas
- Nebraska has a nonpartisan state legislature. For the purposes of this study, we did not include Nebraska in the total counts, hence, a total of 49 states.