Guide to State Politics and Policy


Edited by: Richard G. Niemi & Joshua J. Dyck

  • Citations
  • Add to My List
  • Text Size

  • Chapters
  • Front Matter
  • Back Matter
  • Subject Index
  • Dedication

    For Shirley and Naniette


    View Copyright Page

    About the Editors

    Richard G. Niemi is Don Alonzo Watson Professor of Political Science at the University of Rochester, where he has taught for forty-five years and has served as department chair, associate dean for graduate studies, and interim dean. He earned his PhD from the University of Michigan in 1967. Professor Niemi has been a Guggenheim fellow and a fellow at the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences. He has been a visiting professor at the University of Lund (Sweden) and at the University of Iowa. In 2007–2009 he was president of the American Political Science Association's Section on State Politics and Policy. He is a foreign member of the Finnish Academy of Science and Letters and a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. He is the author, coauthor, or editor of numerous works on political socialization, civic education, voting behavior, and various aspects of state politics. He has an ongoing interest in the Native Americans of upstate New York and Wisconsin, from whom he can trace a portion of his ancestry.

    Joshua J. Dyck is associate professor of political science and codirector of the Center for Public Opinion at the University of Massachusetts Lowell, where he has been on the faculty since 2012. Previously, he was associate professor of political science at the University at Buffalo, SUNY, where he was a faculty member for six years. He also spent a year at the Public Policy Institute of California during the 2005–2006 academic year as a predoctoral fellow. Professor Dyck received his master's degree and doctorate in government and politics from the University of Maryland and holds a bachelor's degree in economics and political science from Western Washington University. His research focuses on the intersection of social context and political institutions on political behavior in the mass public. Much of his research has examined the effects of direct legislation in the American states on public opinion and attitudes about democracy.


    • James E. Alt

      Harvard University

    • James Coleman Battista

      University at Buffalo, SUNY

    • Lawrence Baum

      The Ohio State University

    • Frederick J. Boehmke

      University of Iowa

    • Cynthia Bowling

      Auburn University

    • Ann O'M. Bowman

      Texas A&M University

    • Paul Brace

      Rice University

    • Laura Carlson

      University of Arizona

    • Thomas M. Carsey

      University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

    • John Dinan

      Wake Forest University

    • Joshua J. Dyck

      University of Massachusetts Lowell

    • Margaret R. Ferguson

      Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis

    • Richard C. Fording

      University of Alabama

    • Joseph J. Foy

      University of Wisconsin-Waukesha

    • Peter L. Francia

      East Carolina University

    • James G. Gimpel

      University of Maryland

    • Michael J. Hanmer

      University of Maryland

    • Paul S. Herrnson

      University of Connecticut

    • Laura S. Hussey

      University of Maryland, Baltimore County

    • Martin Johnson

      University of California, Riverside

    • Andrew Karch

      University of Minnesota

    • David M. Konisky

      Georgetown University

    • David Dreyer Lassen

      University of Copenhagen

    • J. Celeste Lay

      Tulane University

    • Tristany Leikem

      University of Arizona James E. Rogers College of Law

    • Meghan E. Leonard

      Illinois State University

    • Nicholas P. Lovrich

      Washington State University

    • Nichole R. Lovrich

      State of Montana, Office of the State Public Defender

    • Faith E. Lutze

      Washington State University

    • Michael P. McDonald

      George Mason University

    • Kenneth P. Miller

      Claremont McKenna College

    • Monica Moore

      University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

    • Richard G. Niemi

      University of Rochester

    • Laura Katz Olson

      Lehigh University

    • Aditya Pai

      Claremont McKenna College

    • Shanna Pearson-Merkowitz

      University of Rhode Island

    • Justin Phillips

      Columbia University

    • Soledad Artiz Prillaman

      Harvard University

    • Beth Reingold

      Emory University

    • Lilliard Richardson

      Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis

    • Alan Rosenthal

      Rutgers University

    • Peverill Squire

      University of Missouri

    • Jeffrey A. Taylor

      University of Maryland

    • Carol S. Weissert

      Florida State University

    • Christopher Witko

      University of South Carolina


    WE WOULD LIKE TO THANK DOUG Goldenberg-Hart, who while at CQ Press approached us with the idea of the book; Carole Maurer for dealing cheerfully and expeditiously with the myriad questions and concerns that came up during the presubmission stage and for reviewing and editing the chapters; David Felts for skillful oversight of the production process; Talia Greenberg for a superb job of copyediting; and especially the chapter authors, who contributed their expertise, doing so happily and in a timely manner, always in the face of heavy work schedules and sometimes despite personal situations that would have dissuaded less dedicated individuals from completing the task. We are grateful to you all.

  • Guide to Information and Data About the States

    THE INTERNET HAS BEEN A BOON TO THE production of data about the states and, especially, to making it widely available. As a result, the past dozen years or so have seen an explosion in collections of information about the states. Moreover, whereas studies prior to around 2000 often had to content themselves with examination of some subset of states about which data could be found, fifty-state analyses have rapidly become closer to the norm.

    In this guide, we document sources—often, but not exclusively Web sources—of all manner of state-level data. Our focus is on sources that provide systematic coverage of all states, especially ones that include data over time. In keeping with the scope of this volume, we include information on state politics, broadly conceived, but also on a wide variety of policy matters.

    It would be impossible, of course, to include every relevant website about every conceivable aspect of state politics and policy. Nonetheless, we believe that sources listed here provide the interested reader with an entrée into a wide swath of political and policy arenas. Even the relative expert may find a few sources that have escaped his or her attention in the past.

    A note on our citation of websites: We typically provide “upper-level” sites, as a listing of highly specific sites would increase the number of citations to the point of making the compilation far less accessible. Thus, for example, we list the URL of the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES),, rather than the URLs of the many datasets NCES provides. Occasionally this means that it will take some “digging” to uncover the specific information that a reader is seeking. Besides making the compilation more compact, however, one often finds that such rooting around uncovers unexpected treasures in the form of data that one had no idea existed at all, much less in the form of easily accessible, systematic coverage.

    We hope readers will make use of many of the collections listed here and will have the thrill of coming across unexpected treasures on more than a few occasions.

    General Sources

    Congressional Information Service. American Statistics Index: A Comprehensive Guide and Index to the Statistical Publications of the U.S. Government. Washington, DC: Congressional Information Service, 1973–. Annual, with monthly supplements. Available online at LexisNexis Statistical DataSets (

    Definitive guide, multiply indexed, to statistics “of probable research significance” in government publications; 1974 “Annual and Retrospective Edition” includes not only items in print but also significant items published over the preceding decade.

    Congressional Information Service. Statistical Reference Index: A Selective Guide to American Statistical Publications from Sources Other Than the U.S. Government. Washington, DC: Congressional Information Service, 1980–. Annual, with bimonthly supplements. Available online at LexisNexis Statistical DataSets (

    Index of statistics from private and public sources other than the U.S. government; complements the American Statistics Index.

    Council of State Governments,

    Publisher of biannual and annual The Book of the States, which has been published since 1935 and available online since 2000 and contains hundreds of detailed tables and graphics covering the organization and operation of state governments; provides collection of state-level databases on topics like business incentives, state performance.

    National Conference of State Legislatures,

    Wide-ranging information on contemporary issues along with data about redistricting, term limits, early and absentee voting, and voter identification requirements; current information about party composition of state legislatures, state legislative leaders, legislative staffs, and more.

    State Politics and Policy Quarterly (Data Resource)

    An eclectic collection of datasets submitted by contributors to State Politics and Policy Quarterly and others engaged in state politics research; lists sources for state-level data covering a variety of social, economic, and political topics.

    U.S. Census Bureau,

    Provides a large collection of national, state, and city data as well as links to state data centers through the State Data Center Program.

    Campaign Finance and Political Action Committees (PACs)

    The Campaign Disclosure Project,

    Database of campaign finance disclosure laws covering the fifty states, the District of Columbia, and the Federal Election Commission; includes a graded assessment of each state's disclosure programs.

    Campaign Finance Information Center,

    Summarizes and links to campaign finance data made available online by each state; describes the format of the available data, and the races, years, and transaction types covered.

    The Gubernatorial Campaign Finance Database,

    A unified database of campaign expenditures for all gubernatorial candidates from 1977 until the present.

    Influence Explorer,

    Tracks political contributions at the federal and state level as well as earmarks, grants, and contracts by state.

    Justice at Stake,

    Provides links to data on candidate fund-raising and advertising expenditures in state judicial campaigns.

    National Institute on Money in State Politics,

    Database of campaign contributions for all state-level candidates in primary and general elections; includes information about candidates, political party committees, and ballot committees.

    Courts Data

    NOTE: Many states maintain online searchable databases containing information about cases originating within the state. These databases are typically searchable by keyword, index number, and names of involved parties.

    Bureau of Justice Statistics' Courts Data Collections,

    Collection of datasets relevant to the U.S. and state courts, which includes (among other topics) data on caseloads, court system organization and structure, numbers of and disposition of criminal and civil cases, and governance of court systems; jury qualifications and verdict rules; and processing and sentencing procedures for criminal cases.

    Civil Justice Survey of State Courts,

    A series of surveys conducted in 1992, 1996, 2001, and 2005 examining civil litigation trends across states; includes information on the nature of cases filed, the disposition of cases heard, and damages awarded.

    State Court Caseload Statistics: Annual Report. Williamsburg, VA : Conference of State Court Administrators and the National Center for State Courts, 1976–. Annual.

    Data on judicial workloads in the state courts.

    State Supreme Court Data Project,

    Information on state supreme court decisions in all fifty states during their 1995 through 1998 sessions; includes information on some twenty-one thousand decisions and biographical data for all justices during this period.

    Economic Data (See Also Taxes)

    Bureau of Economic Analysis,

    Extensive data on gross domestic product (GDP), income, and employment at the state and local level.

    Bureau of Labor Statistics,

    Data on employment, wages, and prices at the national, state, and local level.

    Census Bureau, Federal, State, and Local Governments,

    Information on revenue, expenditures, numbers of public employees, etc., for state and local governments, and numbers of various levels of local governments.

    County and City Data Books,

    Extensive data from 1944 through 2000 on a variety of socioeconomic indicators and demographics at the city, county, and state level.

    Economic Policy Institute's State Economy Track Data,

    State-level data on employment and unemployment covering the years 1981, 1990, 2001, and 2007.

    Inforum's EconData,

    A collection of time-series state-level datasets including information on earnings and income, employment by industry, wages and salaries, and state economic profiles.

    Election Administration and Voter Turnout (See Also General Sources: National Conference of State Legislatures)


    Nonpartisan clearinghouse with frequent, nationwide updates about election reform, along with analytic reports on selected topics.

    Pew Center on the States,

    Reports, analyses, and interactive databases concerning election administration by the states. One project, Being Online Is Still Not Enough, rates states on the accessibility of state election websites, while the recently introduced Elections Performance Index (EPI) offers a comprehensive evaluation of election administration in the fifty states and the District of Columbia.

    United States Election Assistance Commission,

    Research, reports, and data on election administration issues. The Election Administration and Voting Survey collects information from state and county election officials about ballots cast, voter registration, military and overseas voting, and voting technology; the National Voter Registration Act Survey collects information on voter registration trends; the Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voter Act (UOCAVA) Survey tracks at the county level the number of UOCAVA ballots sent and received, and their disposition.

    Voter turnout,

    National and state turnout rates for voting age population (VAP) and voting eligible population (VEP), which corrects voter turnout figures by accounting for voting-age persons who are ineligible to vote due to felony convictions or noncitizenship and for overseas eligible voters, from 1980 to the present; provides data for 2012 on early voting.

    Governors; Gubernatorial Elections, Job Approval Ratings (See Also Election Administration and Voter Turnout; Legislative Election Data)

    Congressional Quarterly's Guide to U.S. Elections. 6th ed. Washington, DC: CQ Press, 2009.

    Superb collection of vote returns for presidential, gubernatorial, and House elections since 1824, Electoral College votes since 1789, senatorial elections since 1913, presidential primaries since 1912, and primaries for governor and senator since 1956 (in southern states since 1919); biographies of presidential and vice-presidential candidates; lists of governors and senators since 1789; discussions of and data on political parties and presidential nominating conventions throughout the nation's history.

    Dubin, Michael J. United States Gubernatorial Elections, 1776–1860: The Official Results by State and County. Jefferson, NC: McFarland, 2003.

    Detailed compilation of early gubernatorial elections.

    Glashan, Roy R. American Governors and Gubernatorial Elections, 1775–1978. Westport, CT: Meckler, 1979.

    Details about state governors (such as birthdays, party affiliations, principal occupations, terms of office) and election data; continued in Mullaney (see below).

    Job approval ratings (JARs),

    Approval ratings collected at the state level for governors, U.S. senators, and presidents from the mid-1900s through 2009; survey questions cover both general job performance assessments and evaluations of officials' handling of specific policy issues.

    Kallenbach, Joseph E., and Jessamine S. Kallenbach. American State Governors, 1776–1976. Dobbs Ferry, NY: Oceana Publications, 1977–1982.

    Election results and biographical data on governors.

    Klarner, Carl. Governors Dataset,

    Dataset at the state–year level covering 1961 to 2010 (with limited coverage of earlier years for some variables) including demographic data about governors in office and data about terms and term limits.

    Mullaney, Marie. American Governors and Gubernatorial Elections, 1979–1987. Westport, CT: Meckler, 1988.

    Continues the volume by Glashan (see above).

    ———. Biographical Directory of the Governors of the United States, 1988–1994. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1994.

    Details about state governors (such as birthdates, party affiliations, principal occupations, terms of office); continues earlier volume.

    Politico (elections),

    Maps and tables of state- and county-level results for gubernatorial (and national) elections from 2002 to the present; state polls about presidential primary and general elections, U.S. Senate, and some congressional district races.

    Scammon, Richard M., Alice McGillivray, and Rhodes Cook, eds. America Votes (series); America at the Poll (series). Washington, DC: CQ Press, 1956–.

    Convenient compilation of vote totals and statistics by state for general elections and primaries for president, governor, and senator, principally since 1945 (comparable district-level data for members of Congress); county-level totals and statistics for most recent general election for president, governor, and senator; state maps with county and congressional district boundaries.

    Initiative and Referendum Data


    Provides links to state ballot measures and state-by-state information on ballot qualifications and processes; petition drive deadlines; and descriptions, analysis, and results for ballot measures.

    Initiative and Referendum Institute,

    State-by-state information about initiative and referendum processes and provisions and reports on all current propositions, including a database of the number and approval rate of initiatives on the ballot in each state since 1904 and a database of the availability of initiatives in 2005 in the thousand largest U.S. cities and ten largest cities in each state.

    National Conference of State Legislatures' Initiative and Referendum Resources,

    Reports and data about initiative and referendum availability and provisions across the United States; includes a state-by-state database of initiative and referendum legislation since 1993 and a state-by-state database of ballot measures since 1892, with summaries and analyses of provisions in recent years.

    University of California Hastings Law Library,

    Limited to California, but gives pdf images of all propositions and initiatives, 1911–2012.

    Legislative Election Data (See Also Election Administration and Voter Turnout)

    CQ Press Voting and Elections Collection,

    Online, searchable database with information about individual races as well as summary information related to open seat races, party switches, race competitiveness, and so on; fee based.

    Lilley, William III, Laurence J. DeFranco, Mark F. Bernstein, and Kari L. Ramsby. The Almanac of State Legislative Elections. 3rd ed. Washington, DC: CQ Press, 2007.

    Maps and statistical profiles of the geographic, economic, and political composition of state legislative districts.

    Party control of state legislatures,

    Interactive map showing changes in party control in state legislatures as a result of the 2012 elections.

    State legislative election returns, ICPSR Study No. 34297

    Comprehensive data on state legislative election returns from 1967 through 2010; includes information on district and candidate attributes.

    U.S. Census Bureau,

    Starting in 2005, demographic data on state legislative districts (above and beyond the racial/ethnic composition used for redistricting).

    Legislatures and Legislative Roll Call Data

    NOTE: Most if not all state legislatures now provide online bill tracking and have also archived that data. Many go back to the mid-1990s. One can use these archives to gather information regarding sponsors, final dispositions, content, committee assignments, etc. Many provide full text of all versions (e.g., introduced, amended, final) of every bill. Typically these are searchable by bill number and/or sponsor(s).

    Dubin, Michael J. Party Affiliations in the State Legislatures: A Year by Year Summary, 1796–2006. Jefferson, NC: McFarland, 2007.

    Extensive data on states' electoral processes, term lengths, legislature size, and membership by party, election dates, and more.

    National Conference of State Legislatures,

    Compilations of laws and data on elections, redistricting, term limits, and other topics, as well as links to websites of individual state legislatures.

    The Open States Project,

    Beta site includes database, for many but not all states, of detailed information on state legislative bills and the activities of legislators and committees.

    Silbey, Joel, ed. Encyclopedia of the American Legislative System: Studies of the Principal Structures, Processes, and Policies of Congress and State Legislatures since the Colonial Era. 3 vols. New York: Scribner's, 1994–1996.

    A thorough treatment of the national and state legislatures.

    State Legislative Sourcebook. Topeka, KS: Government Research Service, 1986–. Annual.

    A guide to finding detailed information on state legislative material, including offices, addresses, phone numbers, and price lists; a list of state statistical abstracts (or near equivalents), of widely varying quality, can be found in recent editions of the Statistical Abstract of the United States.

    State partisan balance,

    Dataset spanning 1937 to 2011 including information on partisan control of state legislatures, governors' offices, and state institutions.

    Personnel, Structures, and Rules

    The Center for American Women and Politics (CAWP),

    A wealth of data about women in and running for elective office in the United States, particularly at the national, state, and statelegislative levels.

    Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies' National Roster of Black Elected Officials,

    Lists black elected officials by office with summary tabulations on historical trends and comparative state figures; the Roster of Black Elected Officials is available for a fee.

    National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials,

    Includes a directory of Latino elected officials, and profiles and electoral projections for Latino candidates for state legislature; although rosters/directories (especially noncurrent ones) are for sale and are not easily available or accessible for free, they may be available through interlibrary loan.

    National Governors Association,

    Searchable database of biographical information on current and former governors; includes staff directories and contact information for each governor's office, election returns data from 2009 to the present, and a collection of reports and publications concerning the functions and powers of each governor's office.

    Numbers and types of governments (U.S. Census Bureau),

    A collection of reports and data including numbers and types of local governments within a state, descriptions of local governments within each state, comparisons of governments' authority between and within states, and key statistics on state and local governments.

    State and local government on the net,

    A complete directory of state and local government websites.

    State Yellow Book, New York: Leadership Directories, 1973

    Some statistics, but emphasizes contact information for executive and legislative branches, including departments, commissions, agencies, and legislative leadership and legislative committees; continues State Information Book (

    Public Opinion Data

    Note: Many universities and local news sources collect public opinion data within the state in which they are located. See the website for Cornell Institute for Social and Economic Research ( for a list of sources of polling data with a state or regional emphasis.

    Citizen and state ideology,

    A measure of state citizen ideology and two measures of government ideology.

    Gallup Poll,

    Large, historically rich collection of survey data concerning politics, the state of the economy, personal well-being, and many social issues—most extensive coverage is at the national level.

    Odum Institute, University of North Carolina,

    A searchable archive of public opinion survey data at the national and state level dating from 1958 to the present, covering a range of social, economic, and political topics; includes the National Network of State Polls.,

    Aggregates polls on numerous contemporary issues; subscriber pages contain state-by-state data from election and issue polling: campaign polls, media polls, academic polls, and polls by political, business, and public-interest groups.

    Roper Center for Public Opinion Research,

    An extensive collection of datasets produced from surveys conducted at the national, state, or regional level pertaining to a wide variety of social, economic, political, and current topics.

    Public Policies

    Note: There are vast amounts of data on the Web covering all manner of social issues. Many of these are government-sponsored; some are sponsored by independent, nonpartisan groups; others are maintained by advocacy groups but may still contain good descriptive information. Many sites are well-maintained, including not only up-to-date information but, increasingly, historical data as well. The following data sources are just a sampling of the many resources available.

    Abortion and Reproductive Health

    Guttmacher Institute,

    Information and data on state reproductive health laws and statistics; includes data on pregnancy, abortion, availability of contraceptives, and funding and availability of family planning services and facilities; provides interactive tools that allow for comparisons of reproductive health policies across states.


    National Agricultural Statistics Service (Department of Agriculture),

    Agriculture-related data and statistics for every U.S. state and county; includes state-level agricultural profiles with essential statistics, as well as data on production and prices of key commodities.

    Crime Data

    Bureau of Justice Statistics,

    Corrections, employment and expenditure, law enforcement, and victim data collections; extensive data—often available at the state and city level—about crime and the justice system.

    Federal Bureau of Investigation,

    Uniform Crime Reports from the FBI provide data from 1995 to the present on all types of crime, including crime rates by state and cities with a population over one hundred thousand.

    Criminal Justice

    Death Penalty Information Center,

    State-level database of statistics related to capital punishment, searchable database of executions since 1977, state-by-state historical and current information about death penalty laws, and links to external reports and datasets on the topic of capital punishment.

    The Sentencing Project,

    Pro-reform advocacy website with state-by-state criminal justice data; includes information on incarceration, racial disparity, drug policies, juvenile sentencing, felony disenfranchisement, and other topics.


    National Center for Education Statistics,

    Datasets about all levels of education at the state and school district level, including statistics about a district's schools, financials, higher education institutions, student demographics, library resources; extensive information about the National Assessment of Educational Progress and other (mostly national) programs.


    U.S. Energy Information Administration,

    Extensive information about state energy reserves, supply, production, prices, distribution, consumption, and environmental footprint.


    American Gaming Association's State of the States Survey,

    Data on the national and state-level economic impact of the casino and gaming equipment manufacturing industries; includes public opinion data and data on trends in casino patronage. See also, for state gambling laws,

    Health Care

    Centers for Disease Control and Prevention,

    A wealth of health care data at the national and subnational levels, although some searching may be required to find the data one is looking for; one point of access for online data is

    Kaiser Family Foundation,,,

    Information and data on hundreds of health care topics, including health care reform, costs, public opinion, insurance, and more.


    State-level information on health care systems, requirements, and management, including data on Medicaid enrollment nationwide and by state; managed care enrollment; Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP) design by state and enrollment figures.

    U.S. National Library of Medicine (National Institutes of Health),

    Vast source of data, statistics, and survey results at the national, regional, and state level covering a range of health- and health care–related topics; see also State Resources for additional data and information exclusively at the state level.

    Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender

    Human Rights Campaign,

    Database of state laws and state court decisions searchable by fourteen issue categories and by state; includes maps that visually classify states based on the degree to which their policies and laws are LGBT-friendly, and a city-level “Municipal Equality Index,” which rates 147 major U.S. cities on forty-seven criteria relevant to LGBT legal protections.

    Social Security

    Social Security,

    Links to the Annual Statistical Supplement and other data sources for information at the federal and state levels about Social Security, Medicare, Supplemental Security Income, and other social insurance programs.


    Tax Foundation,

    Data—much of it up to date and available for a decade or more—on taxes at the state and local level including income, sales, corporate, excise, and property taxes, as well as data on business tax climates, tax burden, etc.

    • Loading...
Back to Top

Copy and paste the following HTML into your website