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Delaware Presidential PVIs, 1916-2016

Kent County, home to the capital Dover, has been a swing county for most of the century. The state capital, Dover, is located here and only makes up about a fifth of the county’s population. Most of the rest of the county leans Republican. The only times Kent has gone Democratic were in Democratic landslides, 1980, 1996 (because voters were more receptive to moderate southerners Carter and Clinton) and when native son Joe Biden was on the ticket. Without him, Kent reverted back to its lean-Republican ways.

New Castle, the most populous of the three counties and part of the Philadelphia area, and also home to the highly influential DuPont family, voted the same way as the state in most presidential elections. The county was strongly Republican before swinging Democratic in the Depression, moderating after the war, and swinging to LBJ. However, New Castle reverted to a Republican PVI in the 1970s and 1980s, though it was now the least Republican of the three counties. In the 1990s, the DuPonts’ influence waned and the urban areas made a sharp left turn like many in the country, bringing New Castle firmly into the Democratic column and Delaware into a nearly reliably Democratic state.

Sussex has more in common culturally with the South, though it was not solidly Democratic like most of the South was in the 1930s and 1940s. While it had a Democratic PVI even in 1964 and did not vote for Goldwater, it swung sharply Republican in the Nixon and Reagan landslides. Sussex was also receptive to Carter and Clinton, but returned to the Republican column from 2000 onwards, not even voting Democratic with Biden on the ticket. Interestingly, Sussex had a less Republican PVI in 2016 than after the Nixon and Reagan landslides.

Here is the link for the Delaware PVIs.

Here are the maps.

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Delaware County PVIs

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Delaware Statewide PVIs

Connecticut Presidential PVIs, 1888-2016

Before I begin, I want to say that I know Connecticut no longer has functioning county governments. However, the old county lines can still be useful because finding the information for all the individual cities and towns would take a lot more time than I have right now. I eventually want to get around to doing city and town information eventually, but for the sake of this series I will keep consistent with the other states.

In 1884, 1888, and 1892 Connecticut voted for Grover Cleveland, the only New England state that went Democratic in those elections. Looking at the county level, around this time there were divisions between the Republican-leaning WASP populations, especially in Yale, and the Democratic-leaning Catholic ethnic populations and state government employees in Hartford. Also some interesting trivia on Cleveland’s family: his grandfather William served in the Connecticut legislature and his father Richard graduated from Yale.

In 1896 Republicans’ fortunes took a sharp turn for the better after Democrats became divided over issues including William Jennings Bryan’s presidential candidacies, as well as who would control the state party, the rural Yankees or the urban Irish. Factory workers voted Republican except Irish Catholics. The rules that called for one town regardless of size to elect one representative also assured Republican dominance. While Connecticut was solidly in the Republican column, its PVI became less Republican due to the national popular vote catching up in the early 1900s.

Unlike the country as a whole, Taft placed second in Connecticut in 1912 so the state was more Republican relative to the country as a whole. The industrialized/Protestant-influenced north outside of Hartford voted more Republican than the Yale/immigrant-influenced south through the Wilson elections. Connecticut’s popular vote followed fairly close to the nation at large in most of the 1920s, as in big Republican wins in both. (Davis in 1924 received similar numbers in Connecticut and the nation at large; Coolidge did better while LaFollette did worse.) The better Republican numbers in 1924 were balanced out by Smith doing better in Connecticut than the nation at large in 1928.

Connecticut didn’t trend as dramatically Democratic in the 1930s; in fact it trended Republican through 1936. Hartford switched to a Democratic PVI in 1940 and stayed that way ever since. New Haven would remain slightly Republican for some elections, but never had a PVI greater than R+2.33 since 1940. New London and Windham Counties in the east were evenly divided from FDR’s 4th term to JFK. Windham County, in the Quiet Corner, is part of the media market of Worcester, Massachusetts, and trended slightly Democratic.

The 1960s saw a dramatic Democratic realignment throughout the state. Only Litchfield and highly wealthy Fairfield, parts of the greater New York area, at the time were at the most swingy. Through the Nixon, Ford, Reagan, and George H.W. Bush years, these two counties were the Republicans’ bases of support. Democrats’ base at that time was Hartford; even New Haven County at this time was still swingy, as were the rural counties to the east.

The 1990s saw eastern Connecticut trend Democratic as the Religious Right’s influence in the Republican Party increased, which likely turned off many secular voters. Western Connecticut also saw Democrats improve their numbers at this time. The Democratic trend continued downballot in the 2000s, when Republican incumbents in the U.S. House were voted out. Even Fairfield, while still leaning Republican PVI-wise, voted for Clinton in 1996 and had stayed with the Democrats ever since. However, in the 2010s, the trend in Eastern Connecticut reversed, with voting patterns similar to the 1980s. Litchfield also returned to being a Republican-leaning county. Hartford and New Haven also saw a slight decrease in Democratic strength but remained strongly Democratic. Fairfield was the only county that trended Democratic in 2016 and is now only less Democratic than Hartford and New Haven.

Here is a link to the Connecticut PVI table.

Here are the maps: 

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Colorado Presidential PVIs, 1916-2016

After consistently voting more Republican than the country as a whole beginning in the 1920s, Colorado began its trend to the Democrats in 2004, flipping to a Democratic PVI in 2012. Even in 2016, Colorado voted slightly more Democratic due to Democrats’ gains coming mostly from the fast-growing suburban areas around Denver and Republicans’ gains coming mostly from slower-growing or no-growth parts of the state.

Coming off the Wilson years, in which the Democrat won big in the western half of the state, Colorado shifted sharply Republican, with the eastern plains counties and some northern counties leading the way. Colorado’s first ski resorts were established in the 1930s, and the counties where those ski resorts were located, such as Pitkin (Aspen) and San Miguel (Telluride), mostly voted Democratic ever since. (Breckenridge also likely voted Democratic, but Summit County remained Republican until the 1990s.)

In the 1940s, Republicans strengthened their hold on the eastern plains counties and the western counties outside of Grand Junction and the ski resorts, swinging the state back to the Republicans. Democrats at this time strengthened their hold on the San Luis Valley in southern Colorado, including Pueblo.

After World War II, Colorado became a little less Republican as Democrats made gains in the rapidly growing Denver metropolitan area, especially the city of Denver and Adams County. Except for the Reagan elections, Adams County has had a Democratic PVI since 1952. Other populous counties such as Arapahoe, Jefferson (both in the Denver area) and El Paso (Colorado Springs) voted more Republican than Denver and Adams voted Democratic, keeping Colorado in the Republican column from 1952 to 1988 (except 1964). Republicans were also helped later in the 1980s by Douglas County, in exurban Denver, which was rapidly growing.

Going into the 1990s and early 2000s, Democrats consolidated the college vote in Boulder and Fort Collins, and made gains in Arapahoe and Jefferson Counties. However, Colorado stayed in the Republican column (except 1992, possibly due to Perot) because counties in the east and west, as well as rapidly growing Douglas County and military-heavy/religious El Paso County, became even more Republican, and the San Luis Valley counties became less Democratic.

While Bush won Colorado in 2004, Democrats made further gains in the Denver area, which probably helped them win both houses of the state legislature. Bush won Arapahoe, Jefferson, and Broomfield 51-46, roughly the same margin he won statewide.

In the next election, Obama won those three counties by about 54-45, similar to his margin statewide. Increasing racial diversity in Aurora helped move Arapahoe County to the left of the state, while Jefferson and Broomfield voted similarly to the state in 2012. El Paso and Douglas remained solidly Republican, though trended slowly Democratic in recent elections. The college vote in Fort Collins moved Larimer into the Democratic column as well. The counties in the center-west also trended Democratic with the rise of ecotourism drawing many liberals to the mountains.

The western counties further from the mountains, anchored by Mesa County (Grand Junction), remained stable in the last few elections. Except for San Miguel, the rural, mostly white region is firmly in the Republican column.

The plains counties in Eastern Colorado culturally have more in common with Kansas and thus became rock-solid Republican. Weld County remained stable because the Republican vote in areas with a significant extraction industry was balanced by the increasing Hispanic population in Greeley. A 2013 state ballot measure that called for the secession of several northeastern counties passed in five counties in the area: Cheyenne, Kit Carson, Phillips, Washington, and Yuma. Even in the six counties that voted against secession, over 40% of voters voted “Yes” in Elbert, Lincoln, Logan, Moffat, Sedgwick, and Weld.

In the former Democratic stronghold of the San Luis Valley, home to blue-collar workers and Hispanics that settled in the area centuries ago when it was part of Spain, Republicans made significant gains. The area began trending Republican around 2000, with only Saguache (near the Rio Grande National Forest), Alamosa (commercial/college county), and Costilla (heavily Hispanic, about 2/3) remaining in the Democratic column. Even these 3 counties saw significant shifts toward Republicans.

Here are the PVIs for the state and each county in table format.

Here are visuals of the Colorado PVIs statewide and by county.

California Presidential PVIs, 1920-2016

Throughout the early 20th century, California was solidly Republican. In the 1920s Democratic seats in the state legislature numbered in the single digits. Republican candidates for governor in 1926 and 1930 won over 70% of the vote. From 1899 to 1932 the only Democrat elected statewide was James D. Phelan in 1914. The only other non-Republicans elected statewide in that period (also in 1914) were Progressives: Lieutenant Governor John M. Eshleman, who died in office and was replaced by Republican William Stephens, and Treasurer/future Governor Friend Richardson, who won reelection in 1918 as a Republican. Why was California such a crimson red state a century ago?

The Bay Area and Southern California had roughly equal shares of the state’s population, 35% and 37% respectively, in the 1920s. These 15 counties, containing over 70% of the state’s population, all had PVIs over R+10. The Central Valley, mountain, and other coastal counties mostly leaned Republican early in the decade but became Democratic later.

Labor unions, believe it or not, played only a minor role in state politics early on, with many progressive measures taking on corrupt machines and with organized labor having suffered a setback from the Preparedness Day Bombing in 1916. The Progressive Party embraced labor unions around that time, which led to a great reduction in their political power in the late 1910s. Farm labor in the Central Valley was not unionized until the Okies in the 1930s began demanding better working conditions.

The 1930s saw the Great Depression and a booming population, especially in Southern California. The film industry in Los Angeles insulated the area from income losses. Southern California overall saw its population more than double, pumping up its share of the state’s population to almost half. The area’s share surpassed 50% in 1940 and hasn’t looked back since. California became a swing state from these new voters, and would remain that way until the 1990s.

Even as the suburbs, and to a lesser extent the cities, filled up with newcomers from other states to work in the expanding aerospace and defense industries in the 1950s and 1960s, California remained a swing state. Through the late 1950s, Republicans held control of the state legislature, having held a majority in the State Senate throughout the 1930s and 1940s and only losing the Assembly to a short-lived Democratic majority from 1936 to 1942. In 1958, Democrats gained a lot of ground due to significant gains in urban areas and the abolition of cross-filing. The party would win state offices more often than not, hold at least one Senate seat and at least half of the House seats, and hold majorities in the state legislature almost the whole time. Even when they were in the minority, they held the highest possible number of seats for the minority, 19 in the Senate and 39 in the Assembly.

The Bay Area was beginning to trend Democratic, but by this point Southern California held more than twice as many people and remained Republican due to Orange County conservatism, military influence in San Diego, and weak labor union influence outside Los Angeles. Due to Republicans also still doing well in the Bay Area outside San Francisco and Oakland, California remained Republican at the presidential level through the 1980s. Even though California voted for LBJ in 1964, it was slightly to the right of the country as a whole. The state overall began trending leftward in the 1980s with the rise in power of public sector unions, with the signing of the Dills Act in 1977.

The 1990s saw a dramatic realignment all over, which continues to this day. Formerly Democratic counties in the Central Valley and mountains turned red (in some cases deep red), with Republican percentages surpassing Orange County (one of the top 5 GOP counties in the state from 1920 to 1988). The Bay Area became almost uniformly Democratic as the tech industry boomed. Southern California also became more Democratic when the aerospace industry crashed after the Cold War, resulting in a large-scale exodus of white voters. The suburbs there began trending Democratic while the urban cores turned deep blue, which showed as Democrats expanded their caucuses in the U.S. House and state legislature with wins in those suburban seats. With wins in suburbs in the Bay Area, Sacramento, San Diego, Ventura County, and the Inland Empire under their belts, it is no surprise that California Democrats now have their eyes on Orange County, namely the districts Hillary Clinton carried. I am not that great at predicting future elections, especially with Top 2, but I think 2018 and 2020 will show if the Democratic vote at the top of the ticket last year will show up downballot, especially with these Clinton-Republican seats getting a lot of focus this early in the cycle. I think the best way to gauge Democratic strength with Top 2 is to compare the Democratic and Republican shares in the first round in June.

Here are the PVIs for the state and each county in table format.

Here are visuals of the California PVIs statewide and by county.

Arkansas Presidential PVIs, 1920-2016

Before I get to the presidential analysis, I just wanted to give this little historical tidbit: Arkansas didn’t vote to secede at first in early 1861; it did so after Lincoln ordered their troops to Fort Sumter to stop the rebellion.

Here are the county PVIs going back to 1920, and images of the state PVIs.

Being a Southern state, Arkansas naturally remained solidly in Democratic hands in the first half of the 20th century. The northwest, a Union-supporting region, had been the center of Republican strength in the state. The poor-quality soil of western Arkansas and resultant small numbers of slaves made this part of the state pro-Union/Republican. Soil in the east of the state, in the Arkansas Delta is rich and fertile thanks to sediment deposits from the Mississippi River. This soil was suited for growing cotton and later rice.

Arkansas PVIs, 1920-1948

Later Republicans expanded their strength to the southwest (Texarkana), in the 50s and the northeast (Jonesboro) and Little Rock after the Civil Rights Act passed. This point in history also saw the elections of John Paul Hammerschmidt, the first post-Reconstruction Republican congressman, and Winthrop Rockefeller to the governorship. Rockefeller managed to win with a coalition of “progressive Democrats and newly enfranchised black voters”, though he lost in 1970 to progressive Democratic challenger Dale Bumpers. Rockefeller expected to face the infamous Orval Faubus.

Arkansas PVIs 1952-1972

Rockefeller’s coalition probably explains why Arkansas held out for Democrats as long as it did. The Arkansas Republican Party was weakened by Rockefeller’s death in 1973, and the state went heavily for Jimmy Carter. It did go for Reagan in 1980, but barely. And of course when Bill Clinton ran for President, Arkansas went strongly for him, being the only state to give a majority of its votes to a presidential candidate in 1992.

Arkansas PVIs 1976-1996

The Republican trend picked up after the Clinton years, solidifying the northwest as a Republican stronghold, and also turning north central Arkansas, in the Ozarks, red as well. Southern and eastern Arkansas remained Democratic then, with the bottom falling out in the late 2000s. The Obama years and after saw Republicans solidify their grip on most of the state. Northern Arkansas, in and around Mountain Home, and western Arkansas around Fort Smith are the most Republican parts of the state, giving Republicans 70%+ of the vote. The Democratic areas are in Little Rock, the Mississippi Delta, and Jefferson County (Pine Bluff).

Arkansas PVIs 2000-2016

Alaska Presidential PVIs, 1964-2016

Before I start, let me give an introduction and explanation for this diary series.

 

One of my goals from childhood included visiting all 50 states. Having lived in 4 and visited 23, I am more than halfway to that goal. Along with seeing the sights in each state, I’ve wanted to learn more about their cultures and later their politics. DKE and RRH, as well as some other blogs I frequented since I became interested in electoral politics in 2003, have helped increase my knowledge. I especially learned a lot about the north and east, where I am deficient in knowledge and experience. Doing some research helped me better understand Alaska’s electoral history, which I will get to now. Election data for the boroughs and census areas are hard to come by, so I will write about the electoral history of just the state.

In the late 1950s, admitting Alaska as a state was debated. President Eisenhower was hesitant because Alaska at the time looked like it would be a Democratic state. Progressive tendencies for the time plus needing government funds for the basics made Alaska look like it would become a Democratic stronghold. Juneau attorney Mildred Hermann claimed Alaskans had enough creative people and resources in Alaska to solve any problems.

“If we cannot buy steak, we will eat beans. We will fit the pattern to the cloth. If we cannot make the kind of a dress we want, we will make one that will cover us anyway, and we are perfectly willing to pull in our belts and do without some things for the purpose of statehood.”

When Nebraska newspaper publisher Fred Seaton joined the Eisenhower administration as Interior Secretary in 1956, he helped move the administration toward supporting statehood. Helping the cause was another member of Interior Department staff, young attorney Ted Stevens, later known as “Mr. Alaska”, who helped draft the statehood act.

As support for statehood increased in the Eisenhower administration and in most of the country, support decreased in the South amid fears that the new Senators from Alaska and Hawaii would oppose segregation, adding to the anti-segregation majority. The bill for Alaska statehood passed the House 210-166 on May 28, 1958, and the Senate 64-20 on June 30, 1958. Alaska was admitted as the 49th state on January 3, 1959.

Alaska at first leaned liberal and Democratic until the discovery of petroleum at Prudhoe Bay in 1968. Then, the federal government was seen as meddling in local affairs, and the state shifted Republican, where it has remained ever since. Republican presidential nominees won in landslides most of the time after the 1960s.

Alaska is one of a few states with a strong affinity for other parties. There is the Alaskan Independence Party, which had Wally Hickel as governor from 1990 to 1994, and current Independent governor Bill Walker. (The state legislature also has Democrats and some Republicans in a power-sharing coalition, currently in the State House and also in the State Senate 2007-2012.) In the 1980 presidential election, John Anderson (I) and Edward Clark (L) combined for 19% of the vote, higher than any other state. At 7%, Anderson’s highest percentage was not here (they were in most of New England), but Clark’s, at nearly 12%, was. In the 1992 election, Independent candidate Ross Perot’s second-highest vote percentage (after Maine), came from here. This was also the only single-digit-margin Republican win in Alaska after 1968.

Alaska started out as a swing state relative to the country in the 1960s, and rapidly became more Republican after the oil boom. Alaska’s Republicanism peaked in George W. Bush’s presidency, and began slowly trending Democratic afterwards.

1964: R+2.79; 1968: R+2.83; 1972: R+0.99; 1976: R+6.91; 1980: R+12.47; 1984: R+10.94; 1988: R+9.07; 1992: R+9.15; 1996: R+12.60; 2000: R+16.69; 2004: R+15.09; 2008: R+13.37; 2012: R+12.02; 2016: R+9.39

Stop by The Elections Geek for more in-depth information on past elections.

Alabama Presidential PVI by County 1944-2016

Picking up on a state-by-state analysis I began at Swing State Project before the 2012 elections, I will try my hand here, with results including 2012 and 2016. I will use Charlie Cook’s PVI when comparing counties. I know PVI itself is not the best way to gauge the partisan leanings of states, counties, or districts, but it can still be useful in making comparisons.

Here are the Cook PVIs I calculated, from 1944 to 2016.

As we all know, most of Alabama’s counties were much more Democratic than the national average in the “Solid South” years. Central Alabama around Birmingham was less Democratic than most of the state in these years because of some Appalachian and anti-secession attitudes, from “the Republic of” Winston County to Chilton County. The Republican trend spread to Jefferson County (Birmingham) itself as well as outside of Central Alabama to Dallas County (Selma), Montgomery (Montgomery), the Gulf counties Mobile (Mobile) and Baldwin, and a little in Houston County (Dothan) in the late 1950s, due to the option of “unpledged electors” on the ballot.

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The option “unpledged” appeared on the ballot again in 1960, and the Republican trend continued in the aforementioned counties, turning Dallas, Montgomery, and Jefferson more Republican as per PVI. In the counties that were already trending Republican, the bottom fell out of Democratic numbers in 1964 as most of the counties flipped to R+ PVIs. The presence of the Tennessee Valley Authority in North Alabama kept most counties in that region in the D+ PVI range. The only blue county outside North Alabama in the 1964 map is heavily black and college county Macon (Tuskegee). Also-heavily black Bullock and Greene Counties joined Macon in 1968. Washington County, along with Mobile to the south, also trended slightly Democratic.

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During the Nixon years, the racial divisions in Alabama began to become more apparent, with much of Central Alabama becoming very Republican, and North Alabama and the Florida counties beginning to trend that way. Carter temporarily stopped the bleeding, but the Reagan revolution would put an end to that for the foreseeable future. The Reagan revolution brought a rapid Republican trend in most counties in Alabama, resulting in many R+ counties in 1988 as the national margin went slightly less for Bush than for Reagan.

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In spite of two Southerners on the Democratic ticket in the 1990s, the Republican trend in Alabama continued, and the realignment of the counties, stalled in the Carter and early Bill Clinton years, picked up. North Alabama was the last holdout outside the Black Belt through 2000 probably because of the connections some voters there felt to the Tennessee Valley Authority and to Al Gore, who came from demographically similar Middle Tennessee.

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The 2004 and 2008 elections saw the realignment pretty much consolidate, with the only Democratic counties for both elections in the Black Belt. Polarization continued into 2012 and 2016, with North Alabama catching up to most of the rest of the state, as memories of the Tennessee Valley Authority diminish with each passing day. Increasingly Democratic numbers from Birmingham made Jefferson the only county outside the Black Belt with a D+ PVI in 2016.

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Stop by The Elections Geek for more in-depth information on past elections.

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