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Eagleton Institute of Politics
Eagleton Institute of Politics

Research/Publications


America’s Newest Voters:
Understanding Immigrant and Minority Voting Behavior


Party Strength and Interparty Competition

In observing presidential elections, it is useful to examine the partisanship of citizens at the state level. The following tables give an indication of the partisan preferences of states in recent elections, the strength of such partisanship, and the degree of interparty competition in each state. Such information might explain the campaign strategies of candidates such as why they campaign in certain states and why they virtually ignore others. Table 1 (see below) provides the partisan breakdown of citizens’ votes for the presidential candidates as well as Senate and House candidates in 2000.

Table 1: 2000 General Election Votes Cast by Party
(U.S. President, Senate and House Races Combined)

State Dem. Candidates Rep. Candidates Other Candidates
Alabama 1,178,271 1,790,402 136,593
Alaska 124,376 358,260 77,317
Arizona 1,243,190 2,744,563 406,995
Arkansas 778,134 750,086 26,326
California 17,200,888 12,900,577 1,925,670
Colorado 1,234,272 1,852,399 278,579
Connecticut 2,344,154 1,604,001* 136,121
Delaware 458,122 491,976 17,712
Dist. of Columbia 330,747 28,331 18,447
Florida 7,877,929 8,469,761 483,523
Georgia 2,034,315 2,918,057 2,489,567**
Hawaii 677,874 333,441 42,683
Idaho 280,982 669,592 43,882
Illinois 5,042,700 3,926,727 166,048
Indiana 2,538,420 3,814,334 148,501
Iowa 1,170,159 1,351,695 69,643
Kansas 727,470 1,280,310 102,817
Kentucky 1,200,650 1,697,407 81,539
Louisiana 1,152,012 1,674,986 140,829
Maine 939,740 927,742 57,606
Maryland 3,436,652 2,385,281 77,209
Massachusetts 5,473,923 1,556,341 619,515
Michigan 6,410,048 5,734,823 325,051
Minnesota 3,584,023 3,150,504 487,416,
Mississippi 1,214,391 1,696,268 63,808
Missouri 3,438,970 3,468,500 139,796
Montana 521,527 659,678 51,916
Nebraska 762,944 1,258,352 51,144
Nevada 743,086 963,146 88,192
New Hampshire 505,102 576,749 43,647
New Jersey 4,832,327 4,088,610 270,184
New Mexico 950,368 785,951 39,326
New York 11,044,633* 7,792,744* 588,311
North Carolina 2,451,292 3,145,969 93,801
North Dakota 422,927 413,172 25,354
Ohio 5,853,340 7,221,819 603,651
Oklahoma 811,231 1,446,157 64,356
Oregon 1,510,707 1,320,675 142,588
Pennsylvania 6,920,102 6,992,146 290,722
Rhode Island 657,778 442,597 84,401
South Carolina 1,090,448* 1,515,268 97,282
South Dakota 197,125 421,783 12,122
Tennessee 2,421,972 3,309,377 127,823
Texas 7,263,112 10,814,141 592,799
Utah 750,419 1,446,547 102,246
Vermont 237,292 360,885 267,997
Virginia 3,573,867 3,989,949 315,661
Washington 3,692,961 3,303,949 334,313
West Virginia 1,185,496 566,879 79,098
Wisconsin 3,994,091 3,489,470 161,443
Wyoming 168,206 447,417 28,699
Total 134,708,395

47.40%
134,357,967

47.28%
15,113,813

5.32%
 
_________
Source: Federal Election Commission Website, www.fec.gov

Notes:  * In CT, NY, and SC, the "combined party" totals are used for Democratic and Republican candidates who also received votes under another party label.
 
     ** This total includes "non-partisan special election" candidates. Candidates were not identified by party on Georgia's special U.S. Senate election ballot.

Tables 2 through 4 rank the partisanship of each state and give some indication of the stability of these rankings. (Table 2 listed below; table 3 and table 4 linked here as .pdf files.) For example, Table 4 shows that in the past four presidential elections, the state of Utah has ranked among the top ten Republican states. This suggests that the Republican candidate for president in 2004 can be fairly confident that he will receive the state’s support. Conversely, it is unlikely that the Democratic candidate will fare well in the state.

Table 2: Partisan Identification By State Ranked by
    Percentage Democrat, 1976-1988

State
Rank
Democrat
Independent
Republican
Louisiana
1
55.3% 24.7% 20.0%
Oklahoma
2
50.8% 19.2% 29.9%
Kentucky
3
49.8% 24.8% 25.5%
West Virginia
4
48.7% 22.7% 28.6%
Georgia
5
48.0% 31.0% 21.0%
Arkansas
6
46.8% 32.8% 20.3%
North Carolina
7
46.6% 25.8% 27.6%
Maryland
8
46.4% 29.4% 24.2%
Alabama
9
44.4% 32.2% 23.4%
Mississippi
10
43.8% 29.2% 27.0%
New Mexico
11
42.0% 31.7% 26.3%
South Dakota
12
40.3% 21.3% 38.4%
California
13
39.4% 27.3% 33.3%
Texas
14
39.4% 34.5% 26.1%
Florida
15
39.3% 27.9% 32.7%
Tennessee
16
39.3% 34.2% 26.5%
South Carolina
17
39.2% 33.2% 27.5%
Oregon
18
38.6% 30.2% 31.2%
Pennsylvania
19
38.4% 26.8% 34.8%
New York
20
37.7% 32.6% 29.7%
Nevada
21
37.0% 31.2% 31.8%
Minnesota
22
36.8% 35.8% 27.3%
Arizona
23
35.4% 29.9% 34.7%
Ohio
24
35.4% 33.6% 31.0%
Illinois
25
34.8% 36.5% 28.7%
Missouri
26
34.6% 38.6% 26.8%
Massachusetts
27
34.2% 50.0% 15.8%
Wisconsin
28
34.2% 38.7% 27.1%
Virginia
29
32.7% 37.9% 29.4%
New Jersey
30
32.6% 39.9% 27.5%
Connecticut
31
32.3% 43.2% 24.5%
Montana
32
32.2% 40.4% 27.4%
Michigan
33
31.9% 38.3% 29.8%
Washington
34
31.9% 44.1% 24.0%
Indiana
35
31.2% 36.0% 32.9%
Nebraska
36
30.9% 28.9% 40.2%
Delaware
37
30.7% 40.6% 28.7%
Wyoming
38
30.3% 35.1% 34.5%
Iowa
39
29.6% 38.1% 32.4%
Maine
40
29.5% 43.5% 27.0%
Kansas
41
29.0% 32.7% 38.3%
Colorado
42
28.6% 38.8% 32.6%
Rhode Island
43
28.2% 56.4% 15.5%
North Dakota
44
27.3% 36.6% 36.2%
Utah
45
24.5% 33.5% 41.9%
Idaho
46
23.8% 39.0% 37.3%
Vermont
47
23.4% 48.0% 28.6%
New Hampshire
48
21.8% 46.3% 31.8%
 
____________
Source: Robert S. Erickson, Gerald C. Wright, and John P. McIver, Statehouse Democracy: Public Opinion and Policy in the American States (Cambridge, Mass.: Cambridge University Press, 1993), p. 15 and Virginia Gray and Peter Eisinger, eds. American States and Cities, 2nd ed. (New York: Longman, 1997), Table 4.2.

The data presented in Table 5 (see below) also give an indication of the factors shaping candidates’ campaigns. The table shows that, over the years, 31 states have exhibited strong interparty competition and that neither party’s candidate realistically can be considered a sure winner there. Consequently, both the Republican and Democratic candidates should consider these states up for grabs. It is highly likely that much of the candidates’ campaign efforts will be geared towards these swing states and that those with a large number of electoral college votes (Texas, Florida, California, New York, Illinois) will receive the most attention.

Partisanship also bears on the topic of foreign migration and its effect upon democratic politics. The relationship between partisanship and ethnicity has received significant attention regarding African American citizens. Since the time of the New Deal, the Democratic Party has received strong and consistent support from the African American population. The relationship was strengthened further with the civil rights movement. The partisan effects of the massive influx of foreign immigrants are unknown at this point. It is not entirely clear which political party will benefit from the growing numbers of Asians and Hispanics or Latinos. Much of this confusion stems from differences within ethnic groups. For example, research has shown that Cuban citizens tend to be more supportive of Republican candidates and that Puerto Ricans lean towards Democratic candidates (de la Garza, DeSipio, Garcia, Garcia, and Flacon 1992) Again, the unknown partisan leanings of these groups are likely to affect presidential campaign strategies. For example, Florida possesses several factors that make it attractive to candidates. It is a large state with a large number of electoral college votes. In addition, no one party has a lock on the vote in the state. Finally, Florida has a large Hispanic and Latino population. Because this population has not aligned itself firmly with one party or another, candidates most likely will spend a great deal of time persuading them to support their candidacy.

Table 5: States Categorized According to Intensity of
   Interparty Competition, 1989-1994
One-Party Democratic
Modified One-Party Democratic
Two-Party
Modified One-Party Republican
One-Party Republican
None Arkansas (.831) Tennessee (.649) Idaho (.338) None
  Louisiana (.828) New Mexico (.645) South Dakota (.322)  
    Hawaii (.814) North Carolina (.636) Arizona (.316)  
  West Virginia (.798) Missouri (.633) Wyoming (.313)  
  Rhode Island (.776) Texas (.618) New Hampshire (.259)  
  Maryland (.776) Virginia (.617) Utah (.232)  
  Kentucky (.741) Minnesota (.608)     
  Georgia (.739) Florida (.594)    
  Mississippi (.709) Washington (.568)    
  Alabama (.666) Vermont (.568)    
  Nebraska (.660) South Carolina (.550)    
  Oklahoma (.659) Nevada (.548)    
  Massachusetts (.658) California (.537)    
    Oregon (.534)    
    New York (..530)    
    Maine (.528)    
    Delaware (.519)    
    Indiana (.518)    
    Connecticut (.518)      
    Wisconsin (.496)    
    Pennsylvania (.496)    
    Iowa (.481)    
    Alaska (.467)    
    Illinois (.462)    
    Montana (.453)    
    Colorado (.438)    
    Michigan (.421)    
    New Jersey (.410)    
    North Dakota (.394)    
    Ohio (.384)    
    Kansas (.359)    

____________
Source: John F. Bibby and Thomas M. Holbrook, "Parties and Elections," in Virginia Gray and Herbert Jacob, eds. Politics in the American States, 6th ed. (Washington, D.C.: CQ Press, 1996), Table 3.5. and Virginia Gray and Peter Eisinger, eds. American States and Cities, 2nd ed. (New York: Longman, 1997), Table 4.3.

  _________________________________________________________
Works Cited:
  de la Garza, Rudulfo O., Louis DeSipio, F. Chris Garcia, John Garcia, and Angelo Falcon. 1992. Latino Voices. Boulder, Colo.: Westview Press.