State Parties

State Parties

In addition to the national party structure in American politics, there are fifty other state party set-ups. Some argue that in America there are 100 state parties : 50 Democrat and 50 Republican. Each one jealously guards its independence from the national set-up though what the national committees are trying to do - exert their power at a state level - the state parties try to do at county/ward level.

Both state parties contest for the most important state political offices, though the extent of competition depends on the tradition of each state. In certain states, there is no effective competition in state elections because it is taken for granted that the state will be won by the party that has traditionally dominated that state. Elections even at a state level cost money and both parties wish to avoid an unnecessary waste of money by contesting in an election that they will lose. It is generally accepted that Texas, for example, will return Republican candidates in elections and recent election history tends to support this fact.

However, in the majority of states there is healthy electoral contest for places in the state legislature which sits in a state’s capital e.g. in California this would be Sacramento. Elections for state governors are usually keenly contested and in recent years, the successful candidate has usually come from the minority party in the state legislature i.e. a Democratic governor (the executive form of state government) will have to work with a state legislature (the legislative form of state government) that has a Republican majority. In 1990, thirty states had this set-up : a governor from one party and a legislative controlled by the other party. As with when this happens at a national level, both sections have to work together effectively or leave themselves open to the accusation that they are ruining the running of a state with the political consequences this would have for their political success.

Since 1990, the Republican Party has faired better in state elections when compared to the Democrats. In 1994, the Republicans held 30 governors positions including New York, California and Texas - the important states to win if only for prestige purposes.

Governors and states 1980 to 1997 

 

Democrat

Republican

Independent

1980

31

19

-

1985

34

16

-

1987

26

24

-

1990

29

21

-

1993

30

18

2

1995

19

30

1

1997

17

32

1

The south tends to be the stronghold of the Republicans - even if they have provided a Democrat president. The solid bastion of Republicanism in the south was also lost at the 1996 national election when five southern states supported the Democrat Clinton : Arkansas, Florida, Tennessee, Kentucky and South Carolina. 

However, at a state level the Republicans are still very strong in the south and the formula appears to be that people at national elections vote for a candidate that they feel will represent the country best on national issues but at a state level, the traditional ties still bind the people of the south predominantly to the Republicans as the Democrats have never been forgiven for the civil rights legislation of the 1960’s, ironically by the Texan Democrat president Johnson. 

Elected politicians are also switching : in the 104th Congress, five Southern Democrats in the House of Representatives and one Southern Democrat in the Senate defected to the Republicans. In 1997, nine of the thirteen southern states had Republican controlled state governments. Elsewhere across America, the hold of the Republicans is less sure :

Control of state governments:

 

Democrat

Republican

Split control

1981

28

15

6

1985

27

11

11

1987

28

8

13

1990

29

9

11

1993

25

8

116

1995

18

19

12

1997

20

18

10


MLA Citation/Reference

"State Parties". HistoryLearningSite.co.uk. 2005. Web.






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