As 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.