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Ballotpedia:Who Runs the States? Changes of Partisan Domination over 22 years

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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 Dramatic changes in partisanship from the first 11 years to the last 11 years.

Partisanship changes over 22 years

Change of 40 percent or more

Figure 17: Map showing the states that experienced the greatest percentage partisan swing between the first and second half of the study.

Among the many states whose partisan control shifted noticeably between the two periods, eight states had changes of more than 40 percent toward one party or the other:

  • Three shifted dramatically toward Democratic control -- Colorado, Illinois and New Jersey.
  • Three states were previously under Democratic control -- Georgia, Missouri and Texas -- but shifted by more than 40 percent to Republican control.
  • Two states -- Florida and South Carolina -- were slightly Republican in the first 11 years, but both became strong Republican trifectas during the second 11 years.

Toward the Democratic Party

The three states that shifted from Republican to Democratic control were Colorado, Illinois and New Jersey. Colorado went from spending 73 percent of the first 11 years with Republicans in power to spending 70 percent of the last 11 years with Democrats in power. Illinois' governorship and legislative chambers went from being 70 percent Republican controlled in the first 11 years to being held by Democrats for 100 percent of the last 11 years. New Jersey was the only top-10 most Republican state in the first 11 years to become a top-10 most Democratic state in the second period. The Garden State went from being under Republican control for 85 percent of the first 11 years to under Democratic control 85 percent of the last 11 years.

(Note: The existence of a partisan trifecta is indicated by a bright blue column or a bright red column. Light red and light blue cells indicate times when a chamber (or a governorship) was controlled by one party, but without an overall trifecta.)

Colorado, Illinois and New Jersey shifting to blue.PNG

Toward the Republican Party

The five states that swung by more than 40 percent toward Republican control, or toward much stronger Republican control, were Florida, Georgia, Missouri, South Carolina, and Texas. Georgia, Missouri, and Texas shifted dramatically from Democratic to Republican control. Georgia went from spending 100 percent of the first 11 years under Democratic control to spending 94 percent of the last 11 years under Republican control. Georgia is unique because it went from being one of the top-10 most Democratic states in the first 11 years to being one of the top-10 most Republican states in the last 11 years. Missouri went from being Democratic-controlled for 91 percent of the first 11 years to 79 percent Republican controlled for the last 11 years. Texas went from being 58 percent controlled by the Democrats during the first 11 years to 100 percent Republican controlled during the last 11 years. Both Florida and South Carolina were Republican-dominated during both halves of the study -- however, each state experienced a large shift from nearly split government to Republican trifectas. South Carolina's governorship and legislature were under Republican control for every year from 2003 to 2013, and Governor Charlie Crist’s exit from the Republican Party in 2010 was the only instance of non-Republican control in Florida during the same period.

Florida, Georgia, Missouri, South Carolina and Texas moving red.PNG

Change of 20-40%

In addition to the states that made partisan movements of at least 40 percent or more over the course of the study, 14 states demonstrated partisan movement in the 20-40% range. In some cases, this did not result in a chamber "flipping" control from one party to the other; but rather, to an increase in the intensity of the party's domination.

Toward the Democratic Party

Eight states made moves toward the Democratic Party in the range of a 20-40 percent shift. Of particular note are two states in the Pacific Northwest -- Oregon and Washington -- which shifted 33 and 21 percent, respectively, to the Democratic side of the aisle. During the first half of the study, Oregon had seven consecutive years of a fully Republican legislature. Washington had two years of a fully Republican legislature and three more years where one chamber was controlled by Republicans. However, during the second half of the study period, both states became dramatically more Democratic. Oregon currently has a Democratic trifecta. Although Washington appeared to have a Democratic trifecta after the 2012 elections, a power-sharing agreement that gave control of the Washington State Senate to a Republican-dominated coalition.

Maine and Massachusetts were both slightly Democratic during the first 11 years, at 54.55 and 66.77 percent, respectively. But both states become increasingly more partisan, shifting to 78.79 and 87.88 percent Democratic in the second half of the study. Although Maine briefly became a Republican trifecta after the 2010 elections, it was a Democratic trifecta from 2003-2010. Massachusetts was under Republican governorship from 1992-2006 but has been a Democratic trifecta in all years since 2007.

Michigan, Montana and New Hampshire are of note because they particularly show evidence of being in an R-v-D dogfight over the last 11 years of the study, versus being in relatively safe territory for the GOP in the first eleven years of the study. Iowa and Maine have a somewhat similar profile; they look from the charts below like states in a partisan dogfight.

(Note: The existence of a partisan trifecta is indicated by a bright blue column or a bright red column. Light red and light blue cells indicate times when a chamber (or a governorship) was controlled by one party, but without an overall trifecta.)

Eight states shifting Democratic 2013.PNG

Toward the Republican Party

Six states (Alabama, Alaska, Hawaii, Mississippi, Oklahoma and Tennessee) showed movement toward the Republican Party in the 20-40 percent range.

  • As indicated in their charts below, four states -- Alabama, Mississippi, Oklahoma, and Tennessee -- swung decisively toward the Republicans in the latter years of the study. All four states presently have Republican trifectas. For example, Alabama was 85 percent Democratic during the first 11 years and 52 percent Republican during the second 11 years. This is a shift of 33%, and while it does not qualify under our 40% criteria for a "dramatic" shift, it should be noted that the Republican trifecta in Alabama -- like those in Mississippi, Oklahoma and Tennessee -- appears firmly entrenched with a likelihood to continue in years ahead given the partisan appearances of the states.

(Note: The existence of a partisan trifecta is indicated by a bright blue column or a bright red column. Light red and light blue cells indicate times when a chamber (or a governorship) was controlled by one party, but without an overall trifecta.)

Four states with significant partisan movement.PNG

  • As indicated in the charts below, while Hawaii in the 2nd 11-year period statistically moved in the Republican direction because it elected a Republican governor for two 4-year terms, it is still solidly blue. Alaska was Republican for more than 80 percent of the latter half of the study. However, the Democratic Party had six years of control in the state senate as a result of power sharing and coalitions from 2007-2012.

Hawaii and Alaska partisanship changes.PNG

See also

External links