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U.S. Political Party Strength Index Map

Submitted by on November 14, 2014 – 1:19 pm 4 Comments |  
US Political Party Strength Index MapAs yesterday’s post noted, the United States moved decidedly in the direction of the Republican Party in the November 2014 election. To illustrate the relative strength of the Republican Party at the state level, I have created a “US Party Strength Index Map,” posted here. The methodology is simple. Taking into account the recent election, I awarded one point for each party in each state for each of the following categories: 2012 Presidential Election, Senior Senator, Junior Senator, House Delegation, Governor, State Senate, and State House. Thus New Hampshire counts as “evenly divided” because the Democratic candidate (Obama) won the state in the 2012 Presidential election, the state’s governor is a Democrat, the state’s senior US Senator is a Democrat, and the Democrats control half (one of two) of the state’s delegation to the House of Representatives. Adding these figures together gives New Hampshire a “Democratic score” of 3.5, which is identical to the state’s “Republican Score,” which is derived from the Republican control of the state’s upper legislative body, the Republican control of the state’s lower legislative body, the state’s Republican junior Senator, and the one-half control of the state’s House delegation by the Republican Party. As noted on the map, some difficulties are encountered, such as the unicameral, non-partisan Nebraska State legislature. This feature makes Nebraska appear less Republican than it would in other measurement schemes.

The information used to make this map is found in a table in a Wikipedia article on “Political Party Strength in U.S. States.” This table includes another category, labeled “demographic,” that is based largely on party affiliation. I have ignored this information because it does not necessarily represent current conditions. In West Virginia, for example, the Democratic Party has a substantial advantage over the Republican Party in terms of voter registration, and a generation ago West Virginia was among the most reliable states for the Democratic Party. But despite formal party affiliation, West Virginians now favor Republican candidates, a tendency that has been strengthening over the past several election cycles.

The map indicates that the Democratic Party was two regional strongholds: the Pacific Coast and zone centered on southwestern New England, New York, and the coastal mid-Atlantic belt. The Great Lakes region, often regarded as part of “blue America,” appear here as a mixed zone with a slight Republican edge.


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  • ktkinak

    Why does this map exclude two states? It should be labeled “Contiguous U.S. Political Party Strength Index Map” or it should actually contain all of the U.S. states. Please note that Alaska and Hawaii have been a part of the US for over 50 years.

    • The title of the map explicitly acknowledges this issue: “With Apologies to Alaska and Hawaii.” The color coding of the subtitle also indicates the positions of Alaska and Hawaii in regard to the index.

  • gn

    22 states (almost half) have one-party Republican control at the state level (Governor plus complete legislature). Even Wisconsin and Michigan, which are “blue” states at Presidential level! Remarkable.

  • JPepple

    The national campaigns are targeted at bringing people over to one party or another. This is reflected even in survey questions that force people to label themselves as republican, democratic, or independent. ND for example is actually neither red nor blue (see election data), but it tends to be the exception to the rule in the US. Many North Dakotans vote both Democratic and Republican in the same election. Rather than the voters actually being of one party or another, there is decided split in which offices certain candidates are preferred for. A democratic governor would be a shocking turn of events but a democratic US senator would be normal and expected. There are cultural and value-based reasons for these oddities. The prevalent values or considerations of a culture compared to how a candidate is presented is the best indication of how a culture will respond in an election. Some areas of the US have one dominant culture while other areas have competing or multiple cultural groups.