Friday, September 11, 2015

Partisan Shifts In The States

The Washington Post has published some graphs by Dr. Carl Klarner which shows the partisan swing in 49 states. Some of the data sets go back to the 1940′s (Source). As an example, I pulled the Texas graph:


His Texas data set only goes back to the 1960′s, but I was curious about what the partisan shift looked like over time.

The Texas Legislative Reference Library (LRL) has data going all the back to 1870. There are some quirks in data, because Texas had multi-member districts for about 100 years and some of those members were not included in the counts. And the data only includes individuals who were members when the legislative sessions began.

With that brief explanation, I’ll go and ahead and post the charts I created using the LRL’s data.* This first chart shows the partisan divide of the TX House from 1870 through 2015:


You’ll notice the number of Representatives climbs steeply after 1870; this is because of the expansion of the total number of seats. There were only 37 seats in the 1870 Texas House; most of them held by the Radical Republicans. Ever so briefly in the late 19th Century the Populist Party was able to make some significant inroads and gain seats in the House reaching a high point of 22 seats in 1895 (which the Republicans wouldn’t reach until 1979).

The next chart shows the partisan divide of the Texas Senate:


There’s a lot one could look at when reviewing the partisan divide of the Texas Legislature, such as where Republicans saw success and growth. For example, if you look at the Republican Senator for 1967 (the first Republican since 1927 - coincidentally, the year Sen. Grover was born), you’ll see he was from a large urban area - Houston/Harris County. And the next few Republican senators were also from large urban areas (Houston and Dallas).

Those trends would seem to jive with voting trends which show greater Republican success among voters in urban areas of Texas (Source).

You can look at all the data here. I also created a couple of other charts to have some different visualizations of the partisan divide; you can see those here, as well as the two already included in the body of this post.

Some Recommended Reading If This Topic Interests You:

The Texas Right by David Cullen
Rotten Boroughs, Political Thickets, and Legislative Donnybrooks by Gary Keith
Allan Shivers: The Pied Piper of Texas Politics by Sam Kinch, Jr
Reagan’s Comeback by Gilbert Garcia
Yeomen Sharecroppers and Socialists by Kyle G. Wilkison
Southern Politics in State and Nation by V. O. Key
Our Patchwork Nation by Dante Chinni
Cowboy Conservatism by Sean P. Cunningham
Red State Blue State Rich State Poor State by Andrew Gelman
The House Will Come to Order by Patrick Cox
The Texas Left by David Cullen

* - be gentle on critique of the charts; amateur at work here.

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