Ballotpedia:Who Runs the States, Washington

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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 takes a specific look at how Washington performed in the study.

Background about the study

See also: Ballotpedia: Who Runs the States

Part One examines the partisanship of state government from 1992-2013. Part Two establishes a State Quality of Life Index (SQLI), aggregating a variety of existing state indices into one measurement. Part Three will overlay the two reports, looking for trends and correlations.

Part 1: Partisanship analysis

Washington Governor

During every year from 1992 to 2013, Washington had Democratic governors in office. Washington is one of seven states that were run by a Democratic governor for more than 80 percent of the years between 1992-2013.

Across the country, there were 493 years of Democratic governors (44.82%) and 586 years of Republican governors (53.27%) from 1992-2013.

Over the course of the 22-year study, state governments became increasingly more partisan. At the outset of the study period (1992), 18 of the 49 states with partisan legislatures had single-party trifectas and 31 states had divided governments. In 2013, only 13 states have divided governments, while single-party trifectas held sway in 36 states, the most in the 22 years studied.

Washington Senate

From 1992 to 2013, the Democratic Party was the majority in the Washington State Senate for 16 years while the Republicans were the majority for six years.

Across the country, there were 541 Democratic and 517 Republican state senates from 1992 to 2013.

Over the course of the 22-year study, state governments became increasingly more partisan. At the outset of the study period (1992), 18 of the 49 states with partisan legislatures had single-party trifectas and 31 states had divided governments. In 2013, only 13 states have divided governments, while single-party trifectas held sway in 36 states, the most in the 22 years studied.

Washington House of Representatives

From 1992 to 2013, the Democratic Party was the majority in the Washington House of Representatives for 15 years while the Republicans were the majority for four years.

Across the country, there were 577 Democratic and 483 Republican state houses of representatives from 1992 to 2013.

The chart below shows the partisan composition of the Office of the Governor of Washington, the Washington State Senate and the Washington House of Representatives from 1992-2013.

Partisan composition of Washington state government(1992-2013).PNG

Partisan control changes

There were eight partisan control changes in Washington during the study period. The average number of changes in the 50 states was four, putting Washington higher than the average.

Washington legislature pie chart 1992-2013.png
Washington government pie chart 1992-2013.png
Washington gubernatorial pie chart 1992-2013.png

Part 2: State Quality of Life Index (SQLI)

Washington’s average ranking over the course of the study period was 17.81, which puts it at 16 in the overall SQLI ranking.[1]

  • The year that Washington had the highest ranking was 1998, in which it ranked 8th.
  • The year that Washington had the lowest ranking was 2005, in which it ranked 29th.
  • The index type that Washington had the highest ranking in was Forbes’ Best States, in which it ranked 6th.
  • The index type that Washington had the lowest ranking in was Tax Freedom Day, in which it ranked 47th.
Washington SQLI 1992-2012
Index 1992 1993 1994 1995 1996 1997 1998 1999 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012
24/7 Wall St Best/Worst Governed States N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A 15 17 16
America's Health Rankings 14 15 13 16 10 10 10 9 8 8 11 11 15 16 18 15 13 11 11 9 13
CAFR Debt/GDP N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A 39 37 37 40 39 42 41 N/A
Chief Executive Magazine Best and Worst States for Business Survey N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A 31 16 28 30 40 30 34 37
CNBC Top States for Business N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A 22 18 16 15 20 21
Forbes Best States for Business N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A 12 5 3 2 5 7 11
Govt. Employment Share Population 35 34 36 34 34 33 33 33 32 38 38 40 38 38 36 35 35 35 34 34 34
Graduation Rate 19 26 25 22 20 24 26 22 28 18 26 35 37 34 31 30 32 34 31 38 37
Personal Income Per Capita 14 15 16 16 15 13 11 11 11 12 14 12 12 16 13 11 11 10 14 14 12
Poverty Rate 15 20 22 31 25 9 6 15 29 28 24 31 21 15 3 21 15 17 14 16 N/A
Real GDP per capita 10 10 12 14 14 11 9 7 9 13 13 13 16 14 14 11 11 11 15 14 N/A
S&P Credit Rating N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A 11 11 10 18 17 20 10 12 12 12 13 14
State Govt. Spending/GDP 33 35 37 39 36 27 25 21 23 23 22 26 26 23 19 18 17 20 21 20 N/A
State & local tax burden 22 21 24 29 28 25 21 17 14 19 19 21 26 24 21 21 21 18 23 N/A N/A
Tax Freedom Day N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A 47
Unemployment Rate 30 35 39 42 41 30 36 39 44 48 49 48 45 40 37 28 25 32 35 35 33
Unfunded Pension Liabilities per capita N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A 17 19 17 N/A
Voter Turnout 16 18 18 11 11 9 9 11 11 24 24 9 9 17 17 18 18 3 3 13 13
Well-Being Index N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A 5 15 12 17 14

Part 3: Partisanship and SQLI Overlay

The chart below depicts the partisanship of the Washington state government and the state's SQLI ranking for the years studied. For the SQLI, the states were ranked from 1-50, with 1 being the best and 50 the worst. During the course of the study, Washington had a number of Democratic trifectas. The state experienced both high and low rankings during the years with Democratic trifectas. Its highest ranking overall, finishing 8th, occurred in 1998 during a divided government.

Chart displaying the partisanship of the Washington government from 1992-2013 and the State Quality of Life Index (SQLI).

See also

Additional information

External links

Footnotes

  1. Note: The average rank is compiled by adding up all years of rankings and then dividing by 21 to obtain the average state ranking. This average figure is ranked relative to the rest of the 49 states to derive an overall SQLI ranking.