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Defying the Odds

Defying the Odds
New book about the 2016 election.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Party Strength

At RealClearPolitics, Sean Trende and offer five measures of party strength:
  • It’s commonplace to say that the Republican Party is in decline. When this claim is made, the explanation offered is usually some combination of the party’s supposedly limited appeal at the presidential level and demographic decline. There is certainly a case to be made at the presidential level, although the stronger case is that this is simply the effect of random noise.
  • But even assuming that the Republican Party is weakening at the presidential level, at the other levels of government, this is much less true, especially if one takes a long view of United States history. For example, despite some self-inflicted wounds in Senate races over the past few cycles, as of 2012 the GOP was still above median strength in the postwar period.
  • In the House, the GOP has the sixth best showing in the postwar period, despite a 2012 election that many described as disappointing.
  • What about governorships? After the 2012 elections, the GOP controlled a larger share of the nation’s governorships than at any point except after the 1994, 1968, 1998 or 1996 elections.
  • Finally, in the state legislatures, Republicans likewise find themselves in roughly as strong a position as they have been in living memory; only in 1946, 1952, 2002 or 2010 did they find themselves in stronger positions in the state legislatures.