Ballotpedia:Who Runs the States, Partisanship Results, Executive Summary

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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
In May 2013, the Ballotpedia staff published a report titled Who Runs the States, which analyzed partisan breakdown of government control in the 50 states from 1992-2013. This page contains the section of the report pertaining to the Executive Summary.

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.[1]

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.

See also

External links


  1. 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.