The Great Realignment: The 1928 Presidential Election, Part 2

This is the second part of two posts analyzing in more detail the 1928 presidential election.

The Great Realignment

The previous post noted that:

In 1928 the Democratic Party nominated Governor Al Smith of New York. Mr. Smith was nominated as a Catholic Irish-American New Yorker  who directly represented Democratic-voting white ethnics. Mr. Smith’s  Catholicism, however, constituted an affront to Democratic-voting white  Southerners, who at the time were the most important part of the party’s  base.

The 1928 presidential election thus saw a mass movement of white  Southerners away from the Democrats, corresponding with a mass movement  of white ethnics towards the Democrats. This was the beginning of the  great realignment of the South to the Republican Party and the Northeast  to the Democratic Party.

This change can be illustrated with a map detailing the state-by-state shift from the 1924 presidential election to the 1928 presidential election:


There are a number of things that stand out with this map.

More below.

The first, as has been previously noted, is the degree to which the shift replicates the current electoral map.

This is not all, however. Two other things are very, very out-of-whack here. To get a hint at what these are, it is useful to compare the 1924 to 1928 state-by-state voting shift to that of different elections.

One example is the change from 2004 to 2008.

In 2008 President Barack Obama improved by 9.7% from the performance of the previous Democratic candidate, Senator John Kerry. In 1928 Governor Al Smith improved by 7.8% from the performance of Democratic candidate John Davis. The shift from 1924 to 1928 is therefore roughly comparable to the shift from 2004 to 2008.

Here is a map of that shift:


Although both Democratic candidates improved by roughly the same percentage from the previous election, where and how they improved look completely different.

In 2008, Mr. Obama generally improved everywhere. In only five states does he do worse than Mr. Kerry. This is the famous Appalachian corridor with which Mr. Obama was so weak.

Moreover, the degree of movement is generally modest. Only two states – Hawaii and Indiana – have more than a 20-point shift from how they voted in 2004. No state shifts more than 40 points (although Hawaii certainly comes close, going from a 8.7% Democratic margin to a 45.3% Democratic margin).

These two patterns: uniform and moderate movement (i.e. when a candidate does better in the popular vote, said candidate does better in almost every state, and states generally do not have wild swings from how they voted from the previous election) are not just confined to 2008. Here is the shift from 2000 to 2004, when President George W. Bush improved by 2.9% from his performance four years earlier:


One again we see that the national shift right brought most of the states with them, and that only three states shifted more than 10% from 2000.

Let’s take another look at 1928 to finish:


Here neither pattern is present. In 1928, the country moved 7.8% more Democratic from 1924. Despite this, Democratic candidate Al Smith did worse in 23 out of 48 states. Three states – Florida, Georgia, and Texas – voted more than 40% more Republican than they did in the previous election. In Texas, Republicans went from 19.8% of the vote in 1924 to 51.8% of the vote in 1928. Fifteen states voted more than 10% more Republican than they did in 1924.

In comparison, in 2008 only one state – Arkansas – voted more than 10% more Republican than it did in 2004 (and it did so by the barest of margins: 10.1%). This was despite Mr. Obama’s improvement from 2004 being roughly equivalent to Mr. Smith’s improvement from 1924.

A lot of interest has gone into Mr. Obama’s weakness in Appalachia. But Mr. Smith’s Southern problem in 1928 (i.e. the fact that he was a Catholic) makes Mr. Obama’s Appalachian problem look puny.

If Mr. Smith improved by 7.8% from the performance of his Democratic predecessor with so much weakness in the South, the shift in the states that voted more Democratic must have been huge. And indeed, the New Yorker gained more than 20-point shifts in nine states. In Massachusetts, Democrats went from 24.9% of the vote in 1924 to 50.2% in 1928.

All in all, the 1928 presidential election was the scene of some enormous movement on a state-by-state basis. In 2008 only two states shifted more than 20 points from 2004, as Mr. Obama did 9.7% better than Mr. Kerry. In 1928, on the other hand, sixteen states shifted more than 20 points from 1928, as Mr. Smith did 7.8% better than the previous Democratic candidate.

This is what a realigning election looks like – extreme movement on from one state to the next, enormous differences by region, and a powerful correlation between which states shift Democratic and which states are voting Democratic almost a century later.

P.S. For those interested, here is a table of the state-by-state voting shift from the 1924 presidential election to the 1928 presidential election:

State 1928 Republican   Margin 1924 Republican   Margin Change
Alabama -2.84% 40.80% 37.96%
Arizona 15.34% 5.79% 9.55%
Arkansas -20.96% -31.93% 10.97%
California 30.50% 48.97% -18.47%
Colorado 30.78% 35.04% -4.26%
Connecticut 8.06% 34.01% -25.95%
Delaware 30.42% 20.90% 9.52%
Florida 16.72% -28.82% 45.54%
Georgia -13.19% -55.77% 42.58%
Idaho 29.30% 30.76% -1.46%
Illinois 14.65% 35.48% -20.83%
Indiana 20.09% 16.56% 3.53%
Iowa 24.20% 38.39% -14.19%
Kansas 44.96% 37.94% 7.02%
Kentucky 18.82% 2.95% 15.87%
Louisiana -52.58% -56.21% 3.63%
Maine 37.66% 50.20% -12.54%
Maryland 14.74% 4.00% 10.74%
Massachusetts -1.09% 37.40% -38.49%
Michigan 41.44% 62.24% -20.80%
Minnesota 16.94% 44.38% -27.44%
Mississippi -64.20% -81.79% 17.59%
Missouri 11.43% 5.79% 5.64%
Montana 17.89% 23.12% -5.23%
Nebraska 27.01% 17.51% 9.50%
Nevada 13.07% 19.81% -6.74%
New Hampshire 17.63% 25.11% -7.48%
New Jersey 19.97% 34.76% -14.79%
New Mexico 18.16% 5.50% 12.66%
New York 2.35% 26.63% -24.28%
North Carolina 9.87% -19.16% 29.03%
North Dakota 10.34% 40.72% -30.38%
Ohio 30.43% 34.63% -4.20%
Oklahoma 28.28% -5.59% 33.87%
Oregon 30.04% 26.83% 3.21%
Pennsylvania 31.35% 46.26% -14.91%
Rhode Island -0.61% 23.17% -23.78%
South Carolina -82.85% -94.35% 11.50%
South Dakota 20.98% 36.34% -15.36%
Tennessee 7.72% -9.21% 16.93%
Texas 3.67% -53.92% 57.59%
Utah 7.72% 19.32% -11.60%
Vermont 34.00% 62.55% -28.55%
Virginia 8.01% -29.69% 37.70%
Washington 35.75% 42.08% -6.33%
West Virginia 17.39% 5.38% 12.01%
Wisconsin 9.24% 28.96% -19.72%
Wyoming 28.31% 36.28% -7.97%
Total 25.22% 17.42% -7.80%


The Great Realignment: The 1928 Presidential Election, Part 1

This is the first part of two posts analyzing in detail the 1928 presidential election.

The second post can be found here.

The Context

In a previous post, part of a series analyzing the Democratic Party during the 1920s, I spoke of how the 1928 presidential election constituted a realigning election.

The 1928 presidential election marked the beginning of a great shift in American politics. It was when the Democratic Party started changing from a minority and fundamentally conservative organization into the  party that would nominate Senator Barack Obama for president.

In 1928, the Democratic Party nominated Governor Al Smith of New York. Mr. Smith was nominated as a Catholic Irish-American New Yorker who directly represented Democratic-voting white ethnics. Mr. Smith’s Catholicism, however, constituted an affront to Democratic-voting white Southerners, who at the time were the most important part of the party’s base.

The 1928 presidential election thus saw a mass movement of white Southerners away from the Democrats, corresponding with a mass movement of white ethnics towards the Democrats. This was the beginning of the great realignment of the South to the Republican Party and the Northeast to the Democratic Party.

Several maps illustrate this point succinctly. Here is the 1924 presidential election:

Part 2

Here is the 1928 presidential election:

Part 3

As one can tell, there is quite a bit of change from the one presidential election to the next. Democratic strength in the Solid South weakens considerably, while the Republican Midwest and Northeast become much less red.

However, it is somewhat difficult to go further into detail just by comparing the two maps. One can sense that a lot is changing, and that certain regions of the country are moving in diametrically opposed directions. But it is all rather vague.

I therefore decided, out of curiosity, to create an actual map of the shift from 1924 to 1928. Here it is:


This is quite the interesting map. One can see the outlines of the current Democratic electoral map here. In some cases the correlation is quite tight. For instance, Indiana is the only state in the Midwest to vote more Republican in 1928 – and what do you know, today Indiana votes the most Republican out of all the states in that region.

In general the relationship is very strong in the eastern half of the country. The only “wrong” states are today’s Democratic strongholds of Maryland and Delaware. Also, the degree of shift does not perfectly correlate to Republican strength in some of the Southern states. But these are small details; in the East, states that moved Democratic in 1928 vote Democratic today, while states that moved Republican in 1928 vote Republican today.

West of Minnesota, however, the relationship breaks down. In more than a third of the states in the West, the way they shifted in 1928 is opposite of how they vote today. The most obvious outlier is Utah, today a rock-solid Republican stronghold that moved sharply Democratic in 1928.

There are two other very interesting and strange things that are happening in this map. They will be the subject of the next post.


Regional Realignment, Part 10: The Pacific Coast

For purposes of this diary, the Pacific Coast is defined as Alaska, Hawaii, California, Oregon, and Washington.  These states today, sans Alaska, are considered reliably Demcratic states for Team Blue.  This hasn’t always been the case in Presidential elections where two Republican Presidential candidates had strong ties to California (Reagan, Nixon).  

US Presidential elections Realignment

The following is a history of how each state supported the Democratic candidates:

1960:  Kennedy wins HI

1964:  Johnson wins all 5 states

1968:  Humphery wins WA and HI

1972:  McGovern doesn’t win any of these states

1976:  Carter wins HI

1980:  Carter wins HI

1984:  Mondale doesn’t win any of these states

1988:  Dukakis wins HI, OR, and WA

1992 thru 2008:  Democrats win all but AK

In fairness to the Democrats, the Republicans had 2 California Presidential candidates between 1960 thru 1984 (Nixon in 1960, 1968, and 1972, and Reagan in 1980 and 1984).  Also, the Democrats had 2 considerably weak Democratic candidates in 1972 (McGovern) and 1984 (Mondale).  I find it interesting that another presumably weak Democratic candidate (Dukakis) won 3 of these states in 1988.  

US House Representation Realignment

After the 1960 general election, the Democrats had approximately 60% of all house seats (and 64 of the 100 senate seats).  I have inserted below the results of certain general elections.

1960:  21(D), 22(R)

1964:  34(D), 18(R)

1966:  30(D), 22(R)  

1972:  34(D), 23(R)

1974:  40(D), 17(R)

1976:  41(D), 16(R)

1980:  32(D), 25(R)

1982:  38(D), 23(R)

1984:  37(D), 24(R)

1990:  37(D), 24(R)  

1992:  44(D), 25(R)

1994:  34(D), 35(R)

1996:  38(D), 31(R)

2000:  44(D), 25(R)

2004:  45(D), 25(R)

2006:  46(D), 24(R)

2008:  46(D), 24(R)

Fifty years ago, the Democrats and Republicans pretty much had an equal split in House Representation in this region.  After the JFK/LBJ administration and the Watergate years, the Democrats enjoyed a huge advantage of 41-16.  The Reagan revolution and a perceived weak Carter administration gave the Republicans some momentum, but by 1990, the Democrats were once again in the driver’s seat.  This region was decimated in 1994, temporarily giving the GOP a slight advantage in House representation.  By the end of the Clinton administration, the Democrats had the same advantage as it did in 1992.  Since 2000, the Democrats’ advantage has been nominal.

US Senate Representation Realignment

1960:  8(D), 2(R)

1964:  7(D), 3(R)

1966:  6(D), 4(R)  

1972:  6(D), 4(R)

1974:  6(D), 4(R)

1976:  6(D), 4(R)

1980:  4(D), 6(R)

1982:  4(D), 6(R)

1984:  3(D), 7(R)

1990:  4(D), 6(R)  

1992:  5(D), 5(R)

1994:  5(D), 5(R)

1996:  6(D), 4(R)

2000:  7(D), 3(R)

2004:  7(D), 3(R)

2006:  7(D), 3(R)

2008:  9(D), 1(R)

Besides the 1980’s, the Democrats have pretty much controlled the Senate representation in this area.  The dawn of the Reagan revolution gave the Republicans the upper hand in the 1980’s, but the 1990’s provided the Democrats with some much needed momentum.  Today, only Alaska has a Republican Senator within this region.


The Democrats enjoy a strong advantage in this region as of today.  This region is much more Democratic than the nation as a whole, although that hasn’t always been the case.  To help prove this point, I wanted to compare the US House results in the election years of 1960, 1980, 1990, 2000, and 2008, comparing the national representation in the US House with the Pacific Coast.

Nationwide Democrats House Representation (Pacific Coast in parenthesis)

1960:  60% (49%)

1970:  59% (58%)

1980:  56% (56%)

1990:  62% (61%)

2000:  49% (64%)

2008:  59% (66%)

50 years ago, the Pacific Coast had more Republican representation than the US as as whole.  In 1970, 1980, and 1990, the Pacific Coast Democratic representation was almost identical with the nation. Starting with the 1988 Presidential election and building off the 1996 elections, the Pacific Coast has become more Democratic than the nation as a whole.

Besides Alaska, which is much more conservative (and liberatarian) than HI, CA, WA, and OR, the Pacific Coast is reliably Democratic.  Truth be told, an effective reapportionment in 2012 is much needed in CA.  The Democrats could easily pick up 4-5 seats, if not more, if the California districts were effectively Gerrymandered.  This region should be in the hands of the Democrats for many more years.  In 2010, we will have to play some defense in a couple of districts, most notably WA-3, CA-11, and HI-01.  However, I don’t see any other Democratic districts in which we are endangered.  In the Senate, Barbara Boxer has a fight on her hands.  I’m fairly optimistic that Boxer will prevail even with the GOP nationwide momentum.  Boxer is a politician that won’t go down without a fight.  Murray might be endangered, but I also like her reelection prospects.

Regional Realignment, Part 9: The Mountain West

The Mountain West consists of Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado, Wyoming, Utah, Nevada, Montana, and Idaho.  This region is a growing region, having outpaced the population growth of the US in the last 50 years.  Overall, certain states within this region can be considered the strongest Republican states within the US, most notably Wyoming, Utah, and Idaho.  However, the Democrats have been able to win some of these states in statewide and national elections.  For this segment of this series, I’m also exploring the US Presidential elections since 1960.

US Presidential elections Realignment

The following is a history of how each state supported the Democratic candidates:

                  1960:  Kennedy wins NV and NM

                  1964:  Johnson wins all but AZ

1968 thru 1988:  Dem. candidate did not win any states

                  1992:  Clinton wins NV, CO, MT, and NM

                  1996:  Clinton wins AZ, NV and NM

                  2000:  Gore wins NM

                  2004:  Kerry doesn’t win any states

                  2008:  Obama wins CO, NM, and NV

Overall, this region has supported the Republican candidates in most general elections.  In the last 13 Presidential elections, the Republican candidate has swept this region 7 times!  It’s also important to point out that NV has given its electoral votes, except in 1976, to the winning candidate every year since 1916.  

US House Representation Realignment

After the 1960 general election, the Democrats had approximately 60% of all house seats (and 64 of the 100 senate seats).  I have inserted below the results of certain general elections.

1960:  11(D), 5(R)

1964:  13(D), 4(R)

1966:  8(D), 9(R)

1968:  6(D), 11(R)

1972:  9(D), 9(R)

1974:  11(D), 8(R)

1976:  10(D), 9(R)

1980:  7(D), 12(R)

1982:  8(D), 16(R)

1988:  11(D), 13(R)

1992:  11(D), 13(R)

1994:  6(D), 18(R)

1996:  4(D), 20(R)

2000:  6(D), 18(R)

2004:  8(D), 20(R)

2006:  11(D), 17(R)

2008:  17(D), 11(R)

Before the 2008 elections, the Democrats had not obtained a majority of these seats since 1976, and even then it was partially due from the Watergate years.  The Republicans really dominated this region in the 1990’s, and in 1996 the GOP controlled all but 4 of this region’s house seats.  In 2008, NV-3, NM-1, NM-2, CO-4, ID-1, and AZ-1 switched hands from the GOP to the Dems.

US Senate Representation Realignment

1960:  11(D), 5(R)

1964:  10(D), 6(R)

1966:  10(D), 6(R)

1968:  9(D), 7(R)

1972:  9(D), 7(R)

1974:  9(D), 7(R)

1976:  7(D), 9(R)

1980:  5(D), 11(R)

1982:  5(D), 11(R)

1988:  6(D), 10(R)

1992:  6(D), 10(R)

1994:  5(D), 11(R)

1996:  4(D), 12(R)

2000:  3(D), 13(R)

2004:  4(D), 12(R)

2006:  5(D), 11(R)

2008:  7(D), 9(R)

The Democrats occupied the majority of the Rocky Mountain senate seats until 1976, and ever since the GOP has had the upper hand.  2000 was the lowest point, with the Dems occupying only 3 Senate seats.  Since 2000, the Democrats have regained both CO seats, a NM seat, and a MT seat.


This region is growing, and as such both the Democratic and Republican party alike should fight like crazy to gain a foothold within.  As of today, this region on a National front will be a fight for both parties.  You have NM (leaning Democratic State), CO and NV (true purple states), AZ (a leaning Republican state, but a state that is growing at a rapid pace), and MT (a moderate Republican state that came within 5% of voting for Obama).  ID, UT, and WY are very reliable Republican states, but all 3 states will support a Democrat in the House (UT-2, ID-1.  WY-AL would have been close if Cubin ran for reelection).  Nothing within this region should be taken for granted.

Overall, I’m not overly optimistic about retaining our 17-11 advantage in the House.  NM-2, ID-1, NV-3 and CO-4 will provide us with some intense, partisan battles.  If we split these 4 seats, I’ll be jumping out of my seat with joy.  In the Senate, Reid is obviously in a lot of trouble in regards to his reelection prospects.  The Democrats will be hard pressed in finding races where we will play some offense against the Republicans.  

Regional Realignment, Part 8: The Central Plains

The Central Plains region consists of Arkansas, Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska, Oklahoma, North Dakota, and South Dakota.  This region consists of states that have been solidly Republican for much of the 20th and 21st Century (South Dakota, North Dakota, Nebraska and Kansas), a state that is about as conservative as any state in the Union (Oklahoma), a state that is part of the Solid South (Arkansas), and two states that have been swing states in the past (Iowa and Missouri).  The region’s population growth has been somewhat stagnant over the last 50 years, and there is no indication that this trend will change in the near future.

US House Representation Realignment

After the 1960 general election, the Democrats had approximately 60% of all house seats (and 64 of the 100 senate seats).  I have inserted below the results of certain general elections.

1960:  23(D), 22(R)

1962:  18(D), 21(R)

1964:  25(D), 14(R)

1966:  17(D), 22(R)

1970:  22(D), 17(R)

1974:  24(D), 13(R)

1980:  19(D), 18(R)

1982:  20(D), 15(R)

1990:  20(D), 15(R)

1994:  11(D), 22(R)

1996:  9(D), 24(R)

2004:  12(D), 20(R)

2006:  15(D), 17(R)

2008:  14(D), 18(R)

Back in 1960, the Democrats strength within this region was due to Oklahoma (5-1 Dem advantage), Arkansas (6-0 Dem advantage), and Missouri (9-2 Dem advantage).  The rest of the states had a Republican advantage of 19-3!.  By 1970, Oklahoma had a 4-2 Dem advantage, Missouri had a 9-1 Dem advantage, and Arkansas a 3-1 Dem advantage (Republicans had a 13-6 advantage in the other states).  Although the Dems gained considerable strength nationwide from the Watergate years, this region only nominally shifted support to the Dems.  By 1980, with the advent of the Reagan Revolutions, the Dems still had a 19-18 advantage (Arkansas now has a 2-2 split, Missouri a 6-4 Dem advantage, and Oklahoma a 5-1 Dem advantage).  By 1990, the Democratic advantage was 20-15 (Arkansas a 3-1 Dem advantage, Missouri a 6-3 Dem advantage, and Oklahoma a 4-2 Dem advantage).  After the first term of the Clinton administration, this region overwhelmingly supported the Repubicans, giving the GOP a 24-9 lead (while Missouri had a 5-4 Dem advantage, Arkansas was again split at 2-2, and Oklahoma had a resounding 6-0 GOP domination!).  The Dems has yet to regain their previous advantage, but made considerable strides in 20006 to narrow the GOP advantage to 17-15.  Today, this region has an 18-14 GOP house advantage.

US Senate Representation Realignment

1960:  7(D), 9(R)

1962:  8(D), 8(R)

1964:  8(D), 8(R)

1966:  8(D), 8(R)

1970:  8(D), 8(R)

1974:  9(D), 7(R)

1980:  7(D), 9(R)

1982:  7(D), 9(R)

1990:  9(D), 7(R)

1994:  8(D), 8(R)

1996:  7(D), 9(R)

2004:  7(D), 9(R)

2006:  8(D), 8(R)

2008:  8(D), 8(R)

I find it very interesting that neither party has obtained more than a 9-7 advantage in the last 50 years in terms of Senate seats.  While the Republicans will most likely (if not definitely) gain the ND seat, and will more than likely gain the AR senate seat, the Dems have a decent shot of gaining the MO seat.  If history is a precedent, which in this case I believe it will be, the Dems should be considered to have a psychological advantage of picking up the Missouri Senate seat.  If ND and AR were to change hands to the Republicans, and the Democrats were to lose in MO, the Republicans would have a 10-6 advantage.  It hasn’t happened in the last 50 years, so now I’m even more confident that Carnahan can defeat a weak candidate (Blunt).


Overall, I’m concerned that we will lose several house seats in November 2010.  Specifically, we will have our hands full in ND-AL, SD-AL, IA-03, AR-01, AR-02, and KS-03.  If we were to lose these 6 seats, the Republicans would have their largest advantage in 50 years!  Truth be told, I think we can expect a split in these 3 seats (SD-AL, AR-01, and IA-03 should stay in our hands, while AR-02, KS-03, and ND-AL may be an uphill battle).  This area today clearly has a Republican advantage, but history has shown that the Democrats can elect good candidates over weaker Republican candidates.  In this region especially, proper candidate recruitment is a major boon for the Dems.

Regional Realignment, Part 7: the Western Great Lakes

156 years ago, the Republican Party was created in this region.  Many would be surprised at the strength the Republicans had in this region (Wisconsin, Minnesota, and Illinois), although a lot of this advantage had already evaporated by 1960.  Today, we consider this area to be mostly controlled by the Democrats, but that hasn’t always been the case.  

US House Representation Realignment

After the 1960 general election, the Democrats had approximately 60% of all house seats (and 64 of the 100 senate seats).  I have inserted below the results of certain general elections.

1960  21(D), 23(R)

1964  22(D), 20(R)

1966  18(D), 24(R)

1972  19(D), 22(R)

1974  25(D), 16(R)

1980  18(D), 23(R)

1982  22(D), 17(R)

1990  25(D), 14(R)

1992  22(D), 15(R)

1994  19(D), 18(R)

2000  20(D), 17(R)

2002  17(D), 18(R)

2004  18(D), 17(R)

2006  20(D), 15(R)

2008  22(D), 13(R)

50 years ago, the Democrats and Republicans had basically a split in House representation.  The Democrats gained control after the Watergate scandal, only to lose control with the emergence of the Reagan Revolution.  In 1982, with the economy stagnant, Democrats picked up some momentum that carried the party thru 1992.  The Republicans made some modest gains during the Contract With America rampage, eventually peaking with a slight edge of seats by 2002.  With the failures of the Bush Administration, the Democrats picked up a sizable advantage.

US Senate Representation Realignment

1960  4(D), 2(R)

1964  5(D), 1(R)

1966  4(D), 2(R)

1972  5(D), 2(R)

1974  5(D), 1(R)

1980  2(D), 4(R)

1982  2(D), 4(R)

1990  4(D), 2(R)

1992  5(D), 1(R)

1994  5(D), 1(R)

2000  5(D), 1(R)

2002  4(D), 2(R)

2004  5(D), 1(R)

2006  5(D), 1(R)

2008  6(D), 0(R)

Exept for the several years in the early 80’s, the Democrats have enjoyed the majority of this region’s senate seats.  With the advent of the Reagan Revolution, the Republicans won several Senate seats to gain this advantage, only to lose control again a few years later.  Today, all 6 Senate seats are in the hands of the Democrats.


While we have no room to grow in the Senate, we have several vulnerable senate seats that may cause us to play some defense, most notably Burris’ seat (up in 2010) and Franken’s seat (up in 2014).  While the IL seat is currently a tossup, I imagine Franken’s voting record won’t attract the ire of the voters.  The House is a different story:  although we have a 22-13 advantage, we still have room to grow.  Minnesota and Wisconsin could provide Team Blue with a couple more house seats in the next 10 years.  Illinois probably has 4 seats (IL-10, IL-6, IL-13, and IL-16) that could come to play with a combination of the right Democratic candidate and the right national tide.  Unfortunately for the Western Great Lakes, the population growth is stagnant, and we will probably see Illinois and Minnesota lose 2 seats after the 2010 Census.  I don’t believe a 23-10 post-2010 is out of the question.

Regional Realignment, Part 6: The South Gulf Coast

The South Gulf Coast consists of Texas, Louisiana, Alabama, and Mississippi.  50 years ago, the Democrats had a virtual monopoly within this region.  Republicans, for the most part, had no strength at all and were lucky to hold a token seat or two within Congress.  Not any more.  While the Democrats have a strong presence in local races, and the Dems control the Alabama, Mississipi, and Louisiana legislatures, the Republicans now have a solid upper hand on a National level.

US House Representation Realignment

After the 1960 general election, the Democrats had approximately 60% of all house seats (and 64 of the 100 senate seats).  I have inserted below the results of certain general elections.

1960 44(D), 1(R)

1962 42(D), 2(R)

1964 38(D), 6(R)

1970 38(D), 6(R)

1972 34(D), 10(R)

1974 34(D), 10(R)

1978 32(D), 12(R)

1980 32(D), 12(R)

1982 36(D), 11(R)

1984 31(D), 16(R)

1990 33(D), 14(R)

1994 31(D), 18(R)

1996 23(D), 26(R)

2002 24(D), 26(R)

2004 17(D), 33(R)

2006 19(D), 31(R)

2008 19(D), 31(R)

50 years ago, this region had one Republican representative (Bruce Alger, who was subsequently defeated in 1964).  Another Texan joined the Republican Caucus in 1962 (Ed Foreman, whose claim to fame is that he represented Texas for 2 years and then was elected as a Congresman representing New Mexico in 1968).  In 1964, with a backlash from the Civil Rights Act of 1964, Alabama elected 5 Republicans and Mississipi elected 1 Republican.  By 1970, this region still had a split of 38 Democrats, 1 Republican.  Slowly but surely, many of the former conservative Democrats switched party affiliations (Lott and Cochran of MS, for examples) to the Republicans, attracting more voters to the Republican movement.  By 1972, the Republicans reached double digits in this region.  Watergate had no bearing on the 1974 election, probably because the region’s shift to the Republicans offset any damage created from this scandal.  By 1978, the Republicans had 12 reps, but the Republicans didn’t ride the Reagan coatails from the 1980 election.  It wasn’t until 1984 that the Republicans capitalized on the Reagan revolution.  Starting in 1990, the Democrats still had considerable control of this region.  Although the Republicans were able to pick off a big Texan named Jack Brooks, the Demcrats still had a 31-18 advantage.  Starting around 1995, this region saw several Democrats swtiched to the Republican side (Mike Parker, MS-04, Billy Tauzin, LA-03, Jimmy Hayes, LA-07, Greg Laughin, TX-14).  After the 1996 election, the Republicans had a 26-23 advantage.  By 2004, with the infamous Texas redistricting, the Republicans capitalized and had a 33-17 advantage.  Today, the Republicans have a 32-18 advantage since Parker Griffith left our party.

US Senate Representation Realignment

1960 8(D), 0(R)

1962 7(D), 1(R)

1964 7(D), 1(R)

1970 7(D), 1(R)

1972 7(D), 1(R)

1974 7(D), 1(R)

1978 6(D), 2(R)

1980 5(D), 3(R)

1982 5(D), 3(R)

1984 5(D), 3(R)

1990 5(D), 3(R)

1994 4(D), 4(R)

1996 2(D), 6(R)

2002 2(D), 6(R)

2004 1(D), 7(R)

2006 1(D), 7(R)

2008 1(D), 7(R)

50 years ago the Democrats controlled all 8 senate seats in this region.  John Tower won a special election in 1962 to take LBJ’s former senate seat, but for the next decade they couldn’t pick up another seat.  Thad Cochran won a MS Senate seat in 1978, and then Alabama elected Denton to a Senate seat in 1980 (only to lose reelection to Richard Shelby in 1986, who would later be a turncoat).  By 1990, MS had to Republican Senators, and Texas had 1 (Phil Gramm).  The Democrats lost another seat in 1993 (special election for Bentsen’s TX seat, won by Kay Bailey Hutchison).  By 1996, Alabama joined LA and MS in having 2 Republican Senators with the election of Jeff Sessions plus Richard Shelby changing party affiliation.  Louisiana elected David “Diaper” Vitter in 2004.  Currently, the Democrats have one Senator in this region (Mary Landrieu, a conservative Democrat).


This region has always had a conservative leaning.  50 years ago, the conservative Democrat ruled this region, and only a handful of moderate, progressive Democrats were in the mix.  The Civil Rights Act of 1964 probably was the beginning of a Republican tide in MS, AL, and LA.  Slowly but surely, many of these conservative Democrats joined the Republican party.  As recent as last year, we had Parker Griffith jump ship to the Republicans.  

I haven’t lost faith that we will continue to be decimated in this region.  Alabama, Mississipi, and Louisiana will remain strong Republican footholds, but there are areas within these states that will fully support a Blue Dog Democrat.  Also, these states have stagnant population growth, meaning that they will not be awarded new districts that will probably go to the Republicans.  Texas, OTOH, is a vastly growing state.  Much of the growth can be contributed to the growing Hispanic population that’s more willing to support Democrats over Republicans.  I anticipate that Texas will become much more Democratic-friendly in the next 20 years.

Regional realignment, part 4: The South Atlantic

For this diary, the South Atlantic is defined as South Carolina, Georgia, and Florida.  This area is one of the fastest growing areas in the nation in regards to population growth.  50 years ago the Democratic party dominated this region.  Today?  Well, it’s just complicated.  I will review the results of certain general election results over the last 50 years.

US House Representation Realignment

After the 1960 general election, the Democrats had approximately 60% of all house seats (and 64 of the 100 senate seats).  I have inserted below the results of certain general elections.

After each US House election, The South Atlantic

1960:  23(D), 1(R)

1964:  25(D), 3(R)

1966:  22(D), 6(R)

1972:  24(D), 7(R)

1978:  25(D), 6(R)

1980:  22(D), 9(R)

1982:  25(D), 10(R)

1990:  22(D), 13(R)

1992:  20(D), 20(R)

1994:  14(D), 26(R)

2000:  13(D), 27(R)

2002:  14(D), 30(R)

2006:  17(D), 27(R)

2008:  18(D), 26(R)

50 years ago, the Republicans literally had no strength in this area.  With the introduction of the civil rights era, the Republicans made some modest gains.  However, the gains were very minimal until the 1992 election of Bill Clinton.  The Contract with (on) America resonated well with the South Atlantic, sweeping in Republicans on record pace.  The Democrats were fairly decimated as a result.  However, with the Bush Administration policies, this area became more skeptical of the Republicans.  There were some Democratic gains, but not as much as other regions in the US.

After each US Senate election, The South Atlantic

1960:  6(D), 0(R)

1964:  5(D), 1(R)

1966:  5(D), 1(R)

1972:  4(D), 2(R)

1978:  5(D), 1(R)

1980:  3(D), 3(R)

1982:  3(D), 3(R)

1990:  4(D), 2(R)

1992:  3(D), 3(R)

1994:  3(D), 3(R)

2000:  5(D), 1(R)

2002:  4(D), 2(R)

2006:  1(D), 5(R)

2008:  1(D), 5(R)

The Democrats had firm control in 1960.  The first Republican held seat in this region resulted from Strom Thurmond’s conversion to a Republican.  In 1980, on the coattails of the Reagan Revolution, the Republicans had a split with the Democrats.  In 2000, with Zell Miller having been appointed in 1999 as the replacement for Corvedell and Bill Nelson’s victory over McCollum, the Democrats again had firm control.  However, over the next few cycles the Democrats lost a seat in SC (Hollings retirement), 2 seats in GA (Miller’s retirement, Cleland’s defeat to Chambliss), and 1 seat in FL (Graham’s retirement).  The sole Democrat representing this region is Bill Nelson, a moderate Democrat.


The former Dixicrats are reluctant to support Democratic candidates.  However, certain Blue Dog Democrats are found appealing to these socially conservtive voters.  This region will support Blue Dogs, evident by Boyd (FL-2), Barrow (GA-12), Bishop (GA-2), Marshall (GA-8), and Scott (GA-13).  The area also contains several majority-African American districts which will be in the hands of Democrats for many years.  However, I believe that the Democrats can still build on these numbers in future years.  Florida is still seeing population growth, and Georgia is a fast growing state too.  Even South Carolina will gain a district from the 2010 Census.  I honestly believe that while the Republicans should hold a mild advantage, the Democrats should be able to obtain a split in the Senate and the House.  We haven’t reached our limit here at all.  Promoting moderate and Blue Dog Democrats in areas controlled by Republicans could help, along with an emphasis on Senior issues, especially in Florida.

Regional Realignment, part 3: The Upper South

The Upper South has previously been defined as Kentucky, Tennessee, West Virginia, Virginia, and North Carolina.  I am a native of this region (North Carolina), and the one thing I want to emphasize is that this region is continually evolving.  Back in 1992 and 1996, WV, KY, and TN supported the Democratic Presidential Candidate while NC and VA supported the Republican presidential candidate.  In 2008, these states switched their support:  KY, TN, and WV supported McCain while NC and VA supported Obama.  Yes, two great Southerners named Al Gore and Bill Clinton were on the 1992 and 1996 Presidential ticket, which partially explains why KY, TN and WV voted Democratic, but 4 years later, in 2000, Al Gore lost all three of these states.

This region is comprised of two distinct areas:  VA/NC, where we are seeing considerable population growth, and WV/KY/TN, where population growth is slow.  

House Representation Realignment

In 1960, the Democrats occupied roughly 60% of all of the House Seats.  I have inserted selected final results of certain general elections.

After each US House election, Upper South

1960:  37(D), 8(R)

1964:  33(D), 9(R)

1966:  27(D), 15(R)

1970:  26(D), 16(R)

1972:  22(D), 18(R)

1974:  28(D), 12(R)

1978:  26(D), 14(R)

1980:  19(D), 21(R)

1982:  27(D), 14(R)

1992:  28(D), 13(R)

1994:  19(D), 22(R)

2000:  16(D), 25(R)

2004:  17(D), 25(R)

2006:  19(D), 23(R)

2008:  23(D), 19(R)

After reviewing this data, I determined that this area is very sensitive towards “wave” elections, such as 1966, 1974, 1980, 1982, 1994, and 2006/2008.  When measuring the mood of the National electorate, we probably should give special consideration to this region.

After each US Senate election, Upper South

1960:  8(D), 2(R)

1964:  8(D), 2(R)

1966:  7(D), 3(R)

1970:  6(D), 4(R)

1972:  5(D), 5(R)

1974:  6(D), 4(R)

1978:  7(D), 3(R)

1980:  6(D), 4(R)

1982:  5(D), 5(R)

1992:  6(D), 4(R)

1994:  4(D), 6(R)

2000:  3(D), 7(R)

2004:  2(D), 8(R)

2006:  3(D), 7(R)

2008:  5(D), 5(R)

Fifty years ago, this area was dominated by the Democrats.  Both Republicans represented KY, and both were fairly moderate for that period of time.  The Democrats included Sam Ervin, Everett Jordan, Robert Byrd, Willis Robertson, and Harry Byrd, all of whom were initially against the Civil Rights movement.  By 1972, with the election of Jesse Helms, the Republicans and Democrats split control of this region, probably on the strength of Richard Nixon.  After the Watergate fiasco and having a Southerner (Jimmy Carter) as President, the Democrats regained some strength, maintaining a slight advantage thru 1992.  In 1994, with many clouds of uncertainty around Bill Clinton’s administration, the Republicans gained the upper hand.  By 2004, the only 2 Democratic Senators in the Upper South were Jay Rockefeller and Robert Byrd.  As a result of the Bush administration’s problems with the Iraq War/Ecomony/Ethics issues, the Democrats gained some momentum, and by 2008 this region was split in half between the GOP and the Democrats.


Neither the Democrats nor the Republicans have a strong foothold in this region.  KY and TN may have 2 GOP senators, but both state governors are currently Democrats.  West Virginia might have two Democratic Senators and a Democratic Governor, but they have taken a sharp turn to the right in Presidential elections.  Virginia also has two Democratic Senators, but the Commonwealth just elected a Republican Governor.  NC, the only state in this region that has 1 Democratic Senator and 1 Republican Senator, has for the first time in 32 years supported a Democratic Presidential candidate, albeit a narrow margin.  

2010 will be a pivotal year for this region.  The western portion of the Upper South might see a couple of house seats switching hands to the Republicans.  Virginia has several Democratic seats that Republicans might win (VA-02, VA-05, and possibly VA-09 and VA-11).  We should closely monitor the house seats in this area for signs of trouble for the Dems.   I feel that if the Dems only lose 2-3 Upper South house seats in 2010, we will be just fine.  Luckily for the Dems, none of the 5 Democratic Senators are up for reelection.

Regional realignment, part 1: The Northeast

Over the past 50 years, the United States has seen numerous realignments between the Democratic and Republican parties.  The Northeast was once a haven for the “Rockefeller Republicans” who are not at all similar to the 2010 Republican party.  At the same time, the Dixicrat Democrats used to rule the South, and these Dixicrats are not anything like the current Democratic party (at least not regarding civil rights and social issues).  I thought I’d explore the realignment of each region as defined by StephenCle’s diaries.  I will start out with the Northeast, consisting of ME, NH, VT, RI, CT, MA, and NY.

House representation realignment

In 1960, the Democrats controlled 263 out of 437 house seats (there was an additional seat that year for Hawaii and Alaska which was added after the 1950 census).  In essence, the Democrats controlled 60% of the house.  Here are some snapshots of this area in the last 50 years.  I’ve chosen to include certain election years to analyize(it doesn’t take into account party defections, vacancies due to death/retirement, etc subsequent to the GE).  So here it goes!

After each US House elections, Northeast:

1960:  36(D), 35(R)

1964:  44(D), 22(R)

1966:  42(D), 24(R)

1972:  37(D), 27(R)

1974:  44(D), 20(R)

1980:  38(D), 26(R)

1984:  33(D), 25(R)

1990:  39(D), 19(R)

1994:  32(D), 22(R)

2002:  36(D), 15(R)

2006:  44(D), 7(R)

2008:  48(D), 3(R)

As of today, their are 49 Democratic seats, and 2 Republican seats, thanks to Owen’s victory in NY-23.

As you can see, the Democrats gained considerable momentum during the JFK/LBJ years of 1961-1964.  While the Democrats lost big in 1966 (52 seats total), we lost only 2 seats in the Northeast.  During Nixon’s first term as President, the Republicans gain a handful of seats, only to lose that wave during the Watergate years.  The Republicans were assisted during the Reagan revolution, but by 1990, all of those gains were depleted.  Several seats were won by the Republicans after the first two years of Clinton’s Presidency, but once again, this played out within 8 years.  Today, this district holds only 2 Republican seats.  

After each US Senate elections, Northeast:

1960:  5(D),  9(R)

1964:  8(D),  6(R)

1966:  8(D),  6(R)

1972:  7(D),  7(R)

1974:  8(D),  6(R)

1980:  7(D),  7(R)

1984:  7(D),  7(R)

1990:  8(D),  6(R)

1994:  7(D),  7(R)

2002:  9(D),  5(R)

2006:  10(D), 4(R)

2008:  11(D), 3(R)

As of today, the Democrats have a 10-4 advantage over the Republicans (Brown’s victory over Coakley adds another seat for the GOP).

As we can all see, the Republicans in the Northeast have historically fared much better in the Senate than the House.  I believe that it took many years for the entrenched Rockefeller Republicans to be defeated (Chafee) or to defect to the Democrats (Jefford, Indy who caucused with the Dems as of 2001).


In 1960, there were 71 house districts in this region, compared to 51 today.  The Democrats have effectively gained control of this region to the point where we can’t gain much more.  In fact, we will probably lose some of these seats due to (a) vulnerable Democrats representing mildly Republican areas, and (b) losing districts via the Census.  The major reason why the Deomcrats have gained such an advantage is due to our strong platform and policies, plus a rightward trend by the Republican parties.  Any future trends in this region will probably assist the Republicans, basically because they are currently almost at “rock bottom”.