America Votes 31: 2013-2014, Election Returns by State

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Rhodes Cook

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      List of Maps

      Introduction

      In recent years, presidential and midterm elections have produced distinctly different outcomes. The former, with their larger turnouts of minority and young voters, have been more favorable to the Democrats. The party has won four of the last six presidential elections and the popular vote in a fifth.

      Without the excitement of a presidential race, midterm elections generate much lower turnouts that tend to be older, whiter, and more favorable to the Republicans. That was the case in 2014, as the GOP came out of the November election holding the Senate, the House of Representatives, a vast majority of the nation’s governorships, and an even larger share of state legislatures.

      In the process, Republicans have built up impressive majorities at virtually every level of government below the presidency, that with the exception of the Senate, Democrats could find difficult to undo any time soon.

      Republicans finished the 2014 election with 54 of 100 Senate seats (54% of the total), 247 out of 435 House seats (57%), 31 of 50 governorships (62%), and 68 of 98 state legislative chambers (69%). (Nebraska has an officially non-partisan, unicameral legislature.)

      Altogether, Republicans in 2014 registered a net gain of nine Senate seats, 13 House seats, two governorships, and nine state legislative chambers (all based on a comparison with its numbers on election eve). That brought the GOP control of the Senate for the first time in six years and increased their advantage in the House and the states.

      Along the way, Republicans made history. They elected their largest number of senators since 2004; their highest total of governors since 1998; their greatest number of House members since 1928; and according to the National Conference of State Legislatures, their highest total of state legislative seats since 1920 (roughly 4,100 out of 7,400).

      The one fly in the ointment for Republicans was that their 2014 success was achieved against the backdrop of an unusually low turnout. More than eight million fewer votes were cast for the House in 2014 than was the case four years earlier, when the “Tea Party” was fresh and new.

      Still, Republicans succeeded grandly in 2014 by dominating their home turf, a large sector of the country that has sometimes been referred to as the Republican “L.”

      2014: GOP Romps

      Recent midterm elections have been very kind to the Republican Party. The GOP won the House of Representatives in 2010 and gained control of the Senate in 2014. In addition, the 2014 balloting increased the Republican majority in the House, as well as the party’s already significant advantage over the Democrats in the states, both in terms of governorships and state legislatures held. Partisan totals in each category are from immediately before and immediately after the November 2014 election. The preelection House totals include Democratic vacancies in New Jersey and North Carolina, which are credited to the Democrats, and a Republican vacancy in Virginia, which is credited to the GOP. Two independent senators who caucused with the Democrats, Angus King of Maine and Bernard Sanders of Vermont, are listed in the “Other” column. There was one independent governor elected in 2014, Bill Walker of Alaska.

      The cornerstone of the “L” is the South (the 11 states of the old Confederacy plus Kentucky and Oklahoma). It also includes the Plains states (Kansas, Nebraska, North and South Dakota) and the Mountain West (which includes Alaska). Altogether, 26 states comprise the “L.”

      The new Republican Senate was crafted in this swath of the country. Of the nine Senate seats that the GOP gained in 2014, three were in the Mountain West (Alaska, Colorado, and Montana), three more were in the South (Arkansas, Louisiana, and North Carolina), and one was in the Plains (South Dakota). The two other GOP Senate pick-ups were in Iowa, a battleground state in the agricultural Midwest, and West Virginia, geographically joined to the Democratic Northeast but more similar to the Republican South in its recent voting habits.

      Of the 23 Senate races held last fall within the “L,” Democrats won only two—reelecting Tom Udall in New Mexico and Mark Warner in Virginia. The latter won a second term by less than 20,000 votes out of nearly 2.2 million cast, a margin of less than 1 percentage point. Warner ultimately prevailed by rolling up the vote in the populous suburbs of Northern Virginia, a region of the state more akin to the Northeast than the South.

      Warner’s close call was one of several races in 2014 that forecasters largely missed. His was not considered a contest to watch, even though he trailed his Republican challenger, Ed Gillespie, on Election Night until the vote from Northern Virginia began to pour in late in the evening.

      Across the Potomac River in Maryland, Republican Larry Hogan was elected governor in an outright upset. The assumption throughout the fall was that the Democratic lieutenant governor, Anthony Brown, was cruising to the governorship in bright blue Maryland. But in a complete surprise, voters elected Hogan, only the second Republican to win the Annapolis state house since Spiro Agnew in 1966.

      2014: Close House Races

      The number of highly competitive House races in 2014 continued their steady downward trend. In 2010, 55 members won with less than 52 percent of the total vote. Two years later, the number was down to 33. And in 2014, the total of sub–52 percent House winners was 27. The majority of close House winners were Democrats, most of whom were incumbents. In contrast, virtually all of the Republican House winners who were elected in 2014 with less than 52 percent were challengers or open-seat candidates. An asterisk (*) indicates an incumbent.

      Meanwhile, in Democratic Vermont, two-term governor Peter Shumlin was taken to overtime by Republican businessman Scott Milne. Shumlin, the head of the Democratic Governors Association, was widely expected to win a comfortable reelection victory. Instead, he finished ahead in the balloting by less than 2,500 votes out of nearly 200,000 cast and fell short of the majority required by state law to win the election outright. The contest was decided in Shumlin’s favor by the Democratic legislature in January.

      Exit polling showed major reasons for the Democratic travails in 2014. Two years earlier, President Barack Obama won more than 90% of the African-American vote, and better than 70% of both the Hispanic and Asian vote. Without Obama on the ballot in 2014, the Democratic share of the African-American vote fell short of 90%, the closely watched (and gradually expanding) Hispanic vote was barely 60% Democratic, and the party’s share of the Asian vote less than 50%. Meanwhile, the 18-to-29 year-old vote, which went 60% for Obama in 2012, was less than 55% Democratic in 2014.

      Obama has played a significant role in recent elections. In presidential election years, his presence on the ballot has boosted the entire Democratic ticket. His party enlarged its congressional majorities in 2008 and fended off the Republicans to hold the Senate in 2012.

      However, midterm elections during the Obama presidency have been little short of a disaster for Democrats. They lost the House in 2010, and the Senate in 2014, as well as losing considerable ground in the states in both years. For Democrats, it was as though they took one step forward in years that Obama was on the ballot and two steps backward when he was not.

      A Look at the House

      Obama’s approval rating has stayed below 50% for much of his presidency, but it has been much lower than that for Congress. There are a number of words used nowadays to describe the acrimony on Capitol Hill, many of which are not very complimentary. “Partisan,” “polarized,” and “dysfunctional,” are just a few that are regularly used. But while sharp ideological differences are often fingered as a source of the problem, a contributing factor could be geography.

      When it comes to the House of Representatives, neither party is truly a national force. Republicans have the most congressional seats in the South and the Midwest. Democrats have the upper hand in the Northeast and the West.

      The House Since 1990: A Political Weathervane

      After a 40-year drought, Republicans gained control of the House of Representatives in 1994 and have stayed in control all but four years since. In the 2014 election, they reached a post–World War II high of 247 seats. The cornerstone of the GOP congressional majority is the South, where they hold nearly three-quarters of the 149 House seats, by far the most seats in any region of the country. Republicans also have a decided advantage in the Midwest. Democrats still control a majority of House seats in the East and the West. Regions are defined below. An “I” indicates independent, although there has been no independent House member elected since 2004.

      It has not always been this way. On the eve of the 1994 election, when the curtain was coming down on the Democrats’ 40-year House reign, the party controlled a clear majority of House seats in all four regions of the country. When Republicans took control in 1994, the GOP had an advantage over the Democrats in three regions (all but the Northeast). The current GOP House dominates only two regions. And it can arguably be said that the Republican majority in the 114th Congress is based on overwhelming dominance in just one of them, the South.

      There, the Republican advantage in House seats has swelled to the point that it is a virtual monopoly. The GOP had a 9-seat Southern edge coming out of the 1994 election by 2010, the margin was up to 62. And following the 2014 voting, the tally of House seats in the South stood at Republicans 111, Democrats 38 – a 73-seat advantage for the GOP in a region that a generation or two ago was solidly Democratic.

      In seven Southern states, Democrats won no more than a single House seat in 2014. And across the Deep South from the Atlantic Ocean to the Texas border, the eight Democrats elected last time were all African American. Southern white Democrats—who once not only ruled the region, but often the Democratic congressional leadership as well—have become an endangered species.

      Take away the South and the Democrats enjoyed a 14-seat edge in the rest of the country. But to be fair, removing the liberal kingpins of California and New York, where Democrats had a combined 34-seat advantage after the 2014 election, and the “loyal opposition” had a huge deficit of 93 seats in the remaining 48 states (224 to 131).

      As it is, Republicans finished the 2014 election with 247 House seats, their highest number since the 1920s, compared to 188 seats for the Democrats. It could have been worse for the latter. Toward midnight on Election

      2014: Defeated Incumbents

      A disproportionate number of members of Congress who lost their seats in 2014 were Democrats, not surprising given the Republican nature of the year. Yet the most high-profile member to be defeated was a Republican, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, who was upset in a GOP primary in his central Virginia district by a political unknown, Randolph-Macon economics professor Dave Brat. No one saw the lightning strike coming, including Cantor. Meanwhile, elements of the “Tea Party” mounted aggressive primary challenges in 2014 to six veteran Republican senators, but failed to net a single scalp. The senator who drew the most serious challenge, Thad Cochran of Mississippi, lost the GOP primary to his more conservative challenger, state Sen. Chris McDaniel. But since none of the candidates achieved a majority of the primary vote, a runoff was held in which Cochran prevailed.

      The table below lists the gubernatorial, Senate, and House incumbents defeated in the 2014 primaries and general election, the number of full terms in office they were completing at the time of their loss in 2014, the percentage of the vote they received in the previous general election (2008 for senators, 2010 for governors, and 2012 for House members), and their percentage of the total vote in the 2014 general election (for those who were not sidelined in the primaries).

      Night, it looked as though Republican House gains might approach 20. But when all the ballots had been tallied, the GOP net gain in the House stood at 13. The reason: Democratic candidates played great defense in California. Of the 11 seats decided in the Golden State with less than 55% of the total vote, Democrats took 10 of them, including all eight that were determined by less than five percentage points.

      The Methodology

      The thirty-first edition of America Votes follows the same format of recent editions in this series. The introductory text and a variety of summary tables that accompany it seek to tie together basic aspects of the 2014 election cycle. The section that follows presents national tables of voter turnout as well as the aggregate vote for gubernatorial, Senate, and House elections by state in 2014.

      The turnout table uses voter registration and “citizen” voting-age population figures compiled by the Census Bureau. In the latter, the millions and millions of non-citizens in the United States age 18 years and older are not included, giving a truer sense of the voter turnout rate than if all persons of voting age were included.

      The overview material also features a summary of special elections held between the general elections of 2012 and 2014 that filled vacancies in the 113th Congress. There is also a list of changes in the congressional membership in the 114th Congress that occurred between the 2014 general election and September 15, 2015. The heart of the volume, 50 chapters—one for each state—follows the introductory material.

      Each state chapter begins with a list of the current governor, senators, and representatives, followed by tables with the statewide vote for president, governor, and senator from the end of World War II (1945) to the present. A map of the state shows its counties, major population centers, and congressional districts for members of the House in the 114th Congress. Other maps are included in states with one or more particularly large population center that features a number of congressional districts. County-by-county tables of gubernatorial and Senate elections follow the maps. All these tables are from the 2014 general election, with the exception of gubernatorial contests in New Jersey and Virginia and special Senate elections in Massachusetts and New Jersey, all of which were held in 2013.

      In most cases, the county tables for gubernatorial and Senate elections feature three columns of votes (Republican, Democratic, and Other). Exceptions occur where an independent or third-party candidate has received at least 10% of the statewide vote, in which case a column for his or her vote is also included. All the county tables include 2010 population figures from the Census Bureau.

      A listing of votes cast for the House of Representatives is arranged by congressional district. The implementation of the 2010 Census for redistricting purposes led to changes before the 2012 election in district boundaries in all states with more than one House member. House results for elections before 2012 are not included for any state except those with a single House seat.

      The conclusion of each state chapter consists of two parts. The first is a notes section containing a breakdown of votes cast in the general election for third party, independent, and write-in candidates. The total of scattered write-in votes is listed in states where they were included in the official returns. For those major party candidates who also ran on a third party ballot line, most notably the case in New York, votes are aggregated as Democratic or Republican.

      The second part deals with primary elections. It opens with an explanation of who could vote in the state’s primary in 2014 as well as voter registration totals at the time of the primary election. The latter is broken down by party in the 30 or so states in which voters register by party. This material is followed by Democratic and Republican primary results for governor, senator, and House held in the 2014 election cycle, as well as the results for runoff elections in states, mainly in the South, that held them.

      In the six New England states, tables list the vote for governor and senator by larger cities and towns as well as by counties. In Rhode Island, the results are listed for all cities and towns.

      The America Votes series is compiled from official results obtained from election authorities in each state. Although complete accuracy is always the goal, it can sometimes prove elusive in a work such as this. On occasion, states may belatedly report changes in their vote totals that occur after publication of this volume. And human nature being what it is, there is always an example or two (or three) of self-inflicted errors. The goal is always to keep these to a minimum. In light of the desire to make these reference volumes as useful as possible to readers and researchers, corrections of data are always welcome as are suggestions for new material.

      The creation of each edition in this series has always taken a small army. Andrew Boney, the Acquisitions Editor at CQ Press, efficiently spearheaded this edition with patience and expertise. He was ably assisted by John Engelken, who worked tirelessly to help database election returns, verify election results, and provide other valuable assistance during the creation of this book. A tip of the cap is also in order to Roylene Kulesza and her team of technical experts, Sal Hewavita, Troy King, and Andrew Messier, for their database expertise and heroic work in creating the framework for the tables that you see in this book. And no list of acknowledgments is complete without mention of the book’s production editor, David C. Felts, who was instrumental in turning this mass of tables and data into a book that readers will hopefully find quite usable.

      10.4135/9781483383019.n1

      Errata

      America Votes 30

      The following corrections should be made in the previous edition of America Votes 30, covering the 2011–2012 election cycle.

      Page 60. In the Alabama 7th District Republican primary, the asterisk (*) should be deleted from next to the name of Don Chamberlain. He was not the incumbent.

      Page 73. In the Arizona 6th District Republican primary, an asterisk (*) should have been placed next to the name of Ben Quayle to indicate that he was an incumbent.

      Page 89. California had party registration in 2012, although all registered voters were permitted to vote in the state’s primary.

      Page 192. In the Louisiana gubernatorial results table, the name of the 2003 Democratic candidate was “Blanco, Kathleen Babineaux.”

      Page 211. In the Maryland party registration table, the Republican and Democratic numbers were basically reversed. There were roughly twice as many Democrats in Maryland as Republicans.

      Page 231. In the Michigan 3rd District Republican primary, Steven Butler was a write-in candidate. That was not designated.

      Page 306. In the New Mexico party registration table, the Republican and Democratic totals were reversed. They should read: Democratic, 576,456; Republican, 381,053.

      Page 384. In the South Dakota party registration table, the number of active registered voters should read: Republican 235,620; Democratic, 185,844; Other, 1,927; Independent, 87,812; Total, 511,203. In addition, there were 54,689 inactive registered voters at the time of the 2012 primary.

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