One of the greatest ironies of American politics is how Woodrow Wilson (Democratic presidential nominee from New Jersey) in 1916 and George W. Bush (Republican presidential nominee from Texas) in 2000 ended up winning pretty much the same states:
Of the states that went for Gore (Democratic presidential nominee from Tennessee; Bill Clinton’s Vice-President) in 2000, only Washington, New Mexico, California, and Maryland went for Wilson in 1916 (New Mexico due to Mexicanization; the others were swing states in 1916). Of the states that went for Bush in 2000, only Indiana, South Dakota, and West Virginia went for Hughes (Wilson’s 1916 opponent; Republican from New York) in 1916 (and most of the area of West Virginia went for Wilson in 1916):
Sorry, no cartogram for 2000, strangely enough. Who knows; someday I might find one.
California’s Republican vote share by county in 1916 is even better correlated with the Democratic vote share by county in 2012 than in 2000.
The 1916 election had some other resemblances to the 2000 election: an extremely close election in a once Spanish-ruled swing state rapidly growing in population (1916: California, 2000: Florida) resulting in days of vote-counting before the results were finalized, the resulting electoral college victory being among the closest on record.
only the states existent in 1796 in which Obama (Democratic presidential candidate from Illinois) won under 44.5% of the White vote in 2012 and in which those states’ representatives in Congress were mostly Republican as of time of writing (they happen to be the same states) were won by Thomas Jefferson (Democratic presidential candidate from Virginia) in the U.S.’s first competitive presidential election:
Not coincidentally, the above map is almost exactly the same as that of the 2016 presidential election, if one only looks at states existent in 1796 and combine the two Virginias existing in 2016 into one state. Of the states existent in 1796 which went for Thomas Jefferson, Donald J. Trump (Republican presidential candidate from New York) won all the ones (including hypothetical unified Virginia) granting a single electoral vote to John Adams by margin under four points. Trump won all the states granting all their electoral votes to Thomas Jefferson by a margin of more than four points.
Similarly, all the states existent during the election of 1844 whose upper state houses are controlled by Democrats as of the time of this piece’s writing (mid-2016) went for Henry Clay of Kentucky, the Whig (i.e., non-Democratic) candidate for President, in the 1844 election, with the sole exception of Illinois:
In 1869, 147 House Republicans and 0 House Democrats voted to pass the 15th Amendment, which, in theory (but, for 96 years, not practice), gave Blacks the right to vote. 36 Democrats and 4 Republicans voted against.
In 1940, 140 House Republicans and 109 House Democrats voted to pass a bill making lynching a Federal crime. 123 Democrats and 8 Republicans voted against.
In 1964, 153 House Democrats and 136 House Republicans voted for the 1964 Civil Rights Act, which made racial discrimination illegal in public accommodations. 91 Democrats and 35 Republicans voted against.
In 2016, 181 House Democrats and 84 House Republicans voted to permanently ban the Confederate Battle flag from display in VA cemeteries. 158 Republicans and 1 Democrat voted against.
So, when did this party shift, in which the Democrats became the Federalists, happen, and what caused it?
Part I: General Introduction
In Yarvin’s terminology, in the late 19th century, Republicans (and, before the 19th century, non-Democrats) were disproportionately Brahmins (in Thomas Sowell’s terminology, the Anointed), and generally had traditionally Brahmin stances, including on non-Whites. At the time, Brahmins were virtually always Protestants –Norwegians, North Germans, and especially descendants of Southeastern English. They were also (obviously) disproportionately highly educated. They were also generally anti-Masonic, for similar reasons as today’s Brahmins moan about inequality and White privilege while often living among it. At the time, Brahmins were advocates of Federally-funded internal improvements, temperance, civil rights, protectionism, reciprocal trade agreements, imperialism, a ban on the immigration of illiterate adults, the Union, and sound money. This book contains more elaboration on this. They also generally supported the Whigs before the rise of the Republican Party, National Republicans before the rise of the Whigs, and Federalists before the rise of the National Republicans (though Vermont, the capital of the Brahmins, sometimes did go for the Democrats in the First Party System). Unlike the Whigs, who, after Jackson, won strong support both in Massachusetts and the Mississippi Delta, in both Vermont and the Alabama Black Belt, both in East Tennessee and French Louisiana, both in Buffalo, New York and in Prince George’s County, the Republican Party was explicitly a sectional party, with its power base concentrated in the Yankee North, and its founding issue being the end of the expansion of slavery in U.S. territories. If there is any one constant in Brahmin political opinions, whatever the age, it is rule by an intellectual elite. Thus, their present-day love for Mencken’s anti-populism, even though he disagreed with pretty much all their present-day political opinions, from the benefits of the New Deal to the proper status of Blacks.
Today, Brahmins are generally atheists, with notoriously weak regard for traditional moral values and a strong propensity to vote for (((Bernie Sanders))) on the Democratic side. And, behold, it is supporters of (((Bernie Sanders))) who prefer rule by an intellectual elite above rule by the uneducated common man by far the most strongly. People who are presently surrounded by Brahmins, but aren’t Brahmins themselves, even if they would have counted as such in the 1930s, tend to vote for Kasich -especially rich, educated, urban, elderly conservatives. The historical stronghold of the Brahmins was always the fairly rural and insular disproportionately Yankee state of Vermont. Indeed, only two out of Vermont’s two-hundred-seventy-five precincts went for Mitt Rmoney in the 2012 Presidential election, thus making it the state with the most heavily Obama-voting Whites in the country.
Democrats in the late 19th century, meanwhile, were typically Townies.
If there is any one constant in Townie political opinions, whatever the age, it is rule by the common (i.e., non-intellectual) White native-born man. Today, however, the strongest indicator of one’s status as a Townie is one’s stance on family values.
In the post-Civil-War South, a generally unindustrialized land dependent on agricultural exports, a clear majority of Whites were Democrat. The Appalachian Whites of the Upland South were generally descendants of Ulster Scots (called in Albion’s Seed “Borderers”). Today, these variously call themselves “Scots-Irish”, “Americans” and “Irish”. The Whites of the plantation South were and are generally descendants of immigrants from the Southwest of England (called in Albion’s Seed “Cavaliers”). They are generally more aristocratic and less moralist than Ulster Scots -more McCain than Huckabee voters. As a rule, those Scots calling themselves Scots-Irish (as opposed to “American” or simply “Irish”) tended to settle in the middle of Carolina, while other Ulster Scots moved further inland.
A small and radically pro-Union portion of East Tennessee and Southeast Kentucky surrounding Knoxville, generally also inhabited by descendants of Ulster Scots, was a key exception to the general rule of most early 20th century Southern Whites being Dems. A constant in American politics is that this area, especially Sevier county in Tennessee and Jackson county in Kentucky, has been solidly Republican since the Civil War (and, between Jackson and the Civil War, solidly southern Whig).
The South was always and everywhere strongly Protestant, with the sole exceptions of the southern portion of Louisiana, which was mostly French Catholic, and the Spanish parts of Texas and Florida. In the 18th century, Ulster Scots were generally Presbytarian and lowland Cavaliers generally Anglican. By the mid-19th century both of these had converted to Southern Baptism, partly as a result of every U.S. state having disestablished its state religion by 1833. The South was, by the late 19th century, also strongly Dry (especially in the areas inhabited by Ulster Scots), and firmly anti-immigration. Sean Trende has a good post spotlighting the persistence of voting patterns in Tennessee and the Carolinas from the beginning of the Third Party System to the present day.
The Democrats had also been a populist party of East Coast urban Townie Ethnic (but by no means non-White; the Republicans had the more pro-Chinese immigration stance at the time) immigrants and machine politics for as long as anyone can remember. Thomas Nast, the late 19th century equivalent of David Horsey, was exemplary at condemning this aspect of it. During the Third and later Party Systems, cities such as Boston, San Francisco, New Haven, and New York were generally Democratic. Indeed, Manhattan Island has been, with few exceptions, consistently Democratic since the Age of Jackson (and, before that, consistently Democratic-Republican since the Age of Jefferson). Its first Tammany mayor, Fernando Wood, a champion of the Southern slave economy, was a strong backer of the Confederate States of America, and even advocated New York secession between Lincoln’s inauguration and the beginning of the war. New York City’s voters had overwhelmingly voted against Lincoln in 1860 and 1864, and most supported slavery, but he still won New York State due to strong support from predominantly Yankee western New York. The only place in continental Massachusetts Wilson won in 1916 (and Hancock won in 1880) was Boston, with its heavily immigrant Irish Catholic population which far more readily identified with Townies rather than Brahmins. Residents of Manhattan were strongly against the protective tariff ever since it was first proposed by Hamilton as the tariff hindered foreign trade, and 19th-early 20th century Manhattan, if it was based on anything, it was foreign trade. From the founding of the country until the mid-1890s, products of primary industry, primarily produced in the South and Great Plains, formed the overwhelming majority of American exports. After the 1890s, America’s export composition began shifting rapidly to manufacturing, making New York City more and more dependent on the northern industrial economy than the southern agrarian one. It was during the First World War that manufacturing products first formed a majority of American goods exports. By the 1970s, America’s primary industry exports formed the same fraction of its total goods exports as its manufacturing exports did prior to the 1890s. Thus, New York City moved away from its reliance on the Southern and Plains economy throughout the first half of the 20th century. Under FDR, the tariff disappeared in pretty much every important way- as a substantial source of Federal revenue, as a means to spur domestic industry, and as an important national issue, with imports and exports both collapsing during the Great Depression and staying under 6% of GDP until the 1973 oil shock.
If this Democrat coalition sounds disparate and liable to fragmentation, it was. As Mencken wrote in 1936, “…they hardly constitute a party at all, but are simply two gangs of natural enemies in precarious symbiosis. One gang consists of big city antinomians, and the other of pious yaps”. The state that has voted Democratic the fewest times since its founding (voting only for agrarian populist Bryan in 1896 and FDR and Johnson in their landslides) is South Dakota, a rural White stronghold of Protestant values. South Dakota hasn’t changed all that much since it became a state, though it has rather substantially improved its economic standing. Indiana has also been quite consistently Republican, though it did go for New York Democrats Tilden and Cleveland, as well as for Barack Obama in 2008. The two states that have voted Democratic the largest percentage of times since their founding were Arkansas and Georgia. Before 2000, every time a Democrat won either the electoral vote or the popular vote in the contest for the Presidency, he had been supported by the majority of the vote of Arkansas. Georgia, meanwhile, voted against the Democratic presidential candidate in their victories in 1836, 1964, and 1996, but, unlike Arkansas, voted Democratic in the Democratic defeats of 1868, 1872, and 1980. Both don’t vote Democratic anymore.
As for counties, Grant County (before its founding, Hardy County) in West Virginia and Ogle County in northern Illinois (a much better off county than the former) have both never voted for a Democratic presidential candidate since James Monroe. The same holds true for Laurel County in Eastern Kentucky, with the sole exception of 1912, when TR and Taft split the vote, and possibly for Jackson County, also in Eastern Kentucky, which has surely never voted Democratic since its founding in 1858, not even in 1912, but might possibly have done so sometime before then. Clay County, Kentucky only voted Democratic in 1860. In the recent primaries, Grant, Jackson, Clay, and Laurel counties all voted for Trump, Ogle, for Cruz. Elliott County in Eastern Kentucky remained the only non-Hispanic-White-majority county in America never to have voted for any presidential candidate but a Democrat since at least its founding in 1869, and probably since 1796 -until that great day on November 8, 2016, when Donald J. Trump, that champion of the common man, crushed Hillary Clinton in that locale by over 40 points, the largest swing in the entire country, with Crooked Hillary getting far fewer votes there in 2016 than she did in the 2008 primary. In the 2016 primaries, most of its Democratic votes went for (((Bernie Sanders))), Democratic Senator from Vermont and a man of the far left wing of the Democratic Party.
If you think about it, going from being strongly against Lincoln and Grant to championing (((Bernie Sanders))) is, while certainly unlikely, not as big a jump as it might first seem. It simply requires ignoring all racial and pure size-of-government issues and having an economic egalitarian anticapitalist interpretation of Jeffersonianism. Some voters are like that. Most aren’t.
Between 1880 and 1900, Blacks in the South were generally disenfranchised after they had swung the 1876 presidential election to Hayes (the Republican governor of Ohio) by a few thousand votes in Black-majority South Carolina. Hayes’ opponent, Samuel Tilden (the Democratic governor of New York), became the only man ever to win the majority of the popular vote and still lose the electoral college. South Carolina and Mississippi, the only Black-majority states in the Union other than Louisiana, went further in their voting restrictions than most. South Carolina, with by far the most severe voting restrictions, voted 90%+ Democratic in every Presidential election from 1900 to 1948. Mississippi enacted a $2 poll tax and an arbitrary 1890 Mississippi constitution-based literacy test in its 1890 constitution. Both Blacks and Whites were effectively disenfranchised under its rules. South Carolina enacted an eight-box-law in 1882 and a poll tax and literacy test in 1895, with further voter suppression against likely Republican voters between 1896 and 1904. These voting restrictions came to an end only gradually, and fully ended only in 1965.
Part II: From Reconstruction to the 1928 election
If one is to divide the post-1856 political history of the United States into only two periods, the boundary line separating them must be the election of 1928.
Between 1856 and 1928 the GOP had undisputed dominance in Massachusetts and Rhode Island. The Dems had undisputed dominance among the Whites of the coastal South.
Both these features were crystal clear in the election of 1916. This election, with which we began our tale, was highly similar in its electoral patterns to the famous 1896 McKinley v. Bryan election, with the main difference being the 1896 one having sharper regional division, due to a greater difference between the candidates that year. Only six states swung between these two elections. One can thus safely say Woodrow Wilson was the Second Coming of William Jennings Bryan (whom Wilson made his Secretary of State), a sort of Mike Huckabee with greater socialist and inflationist tendencies. And that George W. Bush was the Second Coming of Woodrow Wilson.
During the election of 1896, the Democrats under Bryan managed to temporarily win the Great Plains and the Mountain West. This was by their promotion of pro-silver-miner and agrarian-populist policies. Bryan was anti-Darwin, anti-Trust, anti-alcohol, pro-Christ, anti-intellectual, anti-elitist, anti-bank, pro-farm, pro-government, (mostly) anti-imperialist, pro-free-silver and pro-price support. This temporarily redefined the Townies to include Wichita while excluding Boston. The result was that the GOP took Delaware, West Virginia, and New Jersey in every election from 1896 until 1932 (except 1912, obviously) by successfully presenting themselves as sensible, elitist, and urban, weakening the traditional ethno-sectarian-based bounds that helped differentiate Townies from Brahmins:
But this Bryan/Wilson Democratic coalition of the South, the plains, and the mountain states was quite unusual, even for the Fourth Party System. Instead, as a rule during the Third and Fourth Party Systems, the Republicans took the plains, Oregon, most of the Midwest, and New England, while the Democrats persistently kept the Solid South (and, until the rise of the Fourth Party System, West Virginia, Maryland, New Jersey, and Delaware, due to memories of their former reliance on the slave economy), as in the election of 1880:
In 1896, for the first time since before Reconstruction, the Democrats under Bryan actually managed to lose Manhattan, as well as win overwhelming majorities in the Mountain West (a land dependent on precious metal mining) and less commanding majorities in most of the Plains states. Nevertheless, the county containing Boston remained the most Democratic county in Massachusetts in 1896, for the same reasons as it was so in 1880. Had Republicans built on their victories in the cities and totally exterminated the urban Democrats, perhaps there would have been no party shift and (((Bernie Sanders))) and Barack Obama would have run as Republicans.
But this was not to be.
Manhattan swung back to voting for the Democratic presidential candidate in 1900, when McKinley (Bryan’s successful Republican opponent from Ohio in 1896 and 1900), fresh off victory in the Spanish-American War, again ran against Bryan, winning rural states, but losing urban votes.
It is precisely the Northern Democrats and their ascent that created the trouble that led to the party shift. Yet, even more so during the Fourth Party System (1896-1932) than the Third, their presence was nowhere near enough to overcome the GOP’s strong natural advantage among Brahmins and their sympathizers.
The first time Massachusetts, the most Democratic state in the country by 1972, voted for a Democratic presidential candidate by a majority vote (there was a plurality in 1912, but that was due to TR and Taft taking more than a quarter of the vote each) was in 1928. From then on, no Democrat has ever won the presidency without winning Massachusetts and Rhode Island (the two states in which Smith became the first Democratic presidential candidate to win a majority of the popular vote since James Monroe).
This was when the Democratic establishment at last gave up on its failed Bryan-Wilson style agrarian-populist strategy, which struck most people as similar to how they would view Bushism in the late 2000s -insular, unsophisticated, bumbling, warmongering, and despotic. It is a miracle anyone managed to rehabilitate Wilson from the perception of his contemporaries. The strategy had resulted in the Dems only taking all the former Confederate states plus Oklahoma in the electoral college in 1924, as well as Coolidge and Harding becoming the two other GOP presidential candidates to win Manhattan Island.
In that strategy’s place, the Democratic Party decided to focus on the northern Catholic vote by nominating Tammany-backed anti-prohibition urban Catholic Al Smith. The personal characteristics of the candidate mattered far more to voters than the platform he ran on, which called for stronger enforcement of anti-trust legislation, wage increases for government employees, countercyclical public works, campaign finance reform, large tax cuts for most of the population and farm relief via subsidies and tariffs. Though this resulted in their loss of every state in the country but Massachusetts, Rhode Island, the Deep South, and Arkansas, it did result in the Dems achieving a much higher nationwide popular vote share than in either 1920 or 1924. This was mostly a result of greater Democratic support from northern states:
Swing from 1924 election to the 1928 election. From http://uselectionatlas.org/RESULTS/national.php?year=1928&off=0&elect=0&f=0 . Yes, the site, contrary to current convention, uses Red for Dems and Blue for GOP.
Thus, Herbert Hoover became the first Republican presidential candidate to win Texas. And from 1928 on, no Republican except Donald Trump has ever won the Presidency without winning Virginia, and no Republican, not even Trump, has managed to win the presidency without winning Florida -states which almost went for (((Goldwater))) in 1964 and were very solidly Democratic between Reconstruction and 1928. Indeed, the most Republican-voting state in the Union in 1928 was not, as usual, and as in 1924, Vermont, but, instead, Kansas, followed by Michigan, Maine, and Washington. The Democratic plan was for Al Smith to win the majority of the vote in New York State, which came very close to doing so for the first time since Grover Cleveland. Had prosperity continued under Hoover, nobody knows what candidate the Democratic Party would have picked and which strategy he would have employed in 1932. No Democratic presidential candidate between Pierce and FDR had ever won a majority of both the popular and electoral vote. But that doesn’t matter, as the Great Depression actually did occur, making it obvious that Hoover and the Republicans had failed at their task of keeping the Roaring ’20s alive.
Part III: The Fifth Party System and the Eisenhower Dealignment
It was in 1933 in which the Democrats took over the House of Representatives and Senate, to hold them both uninterrupted until the Reagan Revolution for all but four years-with both interruptions resulting from Americans really disliking Harry Truman.
Yet, as FDR, despite being Governor of New York, was, as a result of him being a Protestant, still using a variant of the Wilsonian/Bryanite agrarian-populist strategy, some states still went for Hoover. Majorities in Pennsylvania, Delaware, Vermont, New Hampshire, and Maine -all solidly Democratic states today, with the possible exceptions of Pennsylvania and New Hampshire- spat in the face of the Roosevelt landslide. The state that had the smallest swing to the Democratic candidate in 1932 was Massachusetts. It voted for FDR in 1932 by less than one percentage point more than for Smith in 1928, despite the Great Depression. No doubt, this was due to much lower voter turnout among Catholics.
The above chart uses the two-party vote for all elections but 1968, in which the Democratic vote share is used, and 1948 and 1964, in which the Republican vote share is used. Washington, DC is included.
As shown in the above chart, FDR’s constituency continued to be largely similar to that of Woodrow Wilson throughout his time in office. Massachusetts voted nearly one percentage point more for FDR than for Smith in 1936, and over two percentage points for FDR more than for Smith in 1940, when the entire U.S. West of the Mississippi had an increase in the GOP candidate’s vote share. Nevertheless, (((Jews))) throughout the country, put off from the Democratic party by its crude Wilsonianism, swung tremendously to FDR precisely during those years, transforming from a strongly Republican-leaning ethnic group with substantial class divisions in voting patterns to what was uniformly the most Democratic-voting ethnic group in the country in 1940. Some of the biggest friends of the New Deal were legislators with names like (((Sirovich))), (((Dickstein))), and (((Zioncheck))). Notably, not a single southerner in the House was among the New Deal’s biggest friends (the Senate was different).
Similarly, Blacks were also turned Democratic by the sheer personality of FDR and his wife, with the first truly left-wing Democratic Black federal legislator being William Dawson of the First District of Illinois.
Thus, the ethnic groups with the lowest and highest average IQs in the country were both converted into Democrats by FDR. Sailer’s Democratic Party alignment of the high and the low against the middle had begun. The DW-NOMINATE first dimension, instead of, as in the 1920s, being the spectrum separating boorish Bleaseism from the aversion to all foreign trade and championing of large domestic corporations of Senators Smoot and Waterman, now separated left-wing allies of every ill-considered program of the Roosevelt Administration such as Hugo Black (D-AL) from right-wing libertarian-leaning friends of business (as against labor unions and Communism), isolation (including immigration restriction), and economic liberty such as Howard Buffett (R-NE), Clare Hoffman (R-MI), and Frederick Cleveland Smith (R-OH). It is ironic given the decline of the Tammany Hall machine under Roosevelt as a result of both FDR’s actions and the election of the election of Fiorello (((LaGuardia))) to the position of Mayor of New York City, that FDR ended up doing more than any other man in transforming Tammany Hall politicians such as Christy Sullivan and Robert Wagner from being moderate Democrats on all dimensions to the pro-New-Deal ideological extreme of the Democratic Party.
Similarly, as the ideological extreme of the Democratic Party moved from the Deep South to New York City, so did the ideological extreme of the Republican Party move from protectionist and Yankee Vermont and Colorado to the Midwest -Michigan, Ohio, Missouri, and especially Nebraska, the land of Howard Buffett, Ken Wherry, and Sam Reynolds. Surely an interesting transformation from the days when Nebraska was the home state of William Jennings Bryan, less than half a century before!
Nevertheless, despite the beginning of the conspiracy of the high and the low, the Democratic Party continued to identify more with the personality of [[[Jackson]]] (D-TN), champion of the common man, over that of Hamilton, champion of the elite. Books like The Age of Jackson (1945) by
In 1944, Roosevelt performed stronger in much of the urban North (though not Massachusetts), but weaker in the rural South, than he did in 1940. Massachusetts swung especially strongly towards Harry Truman (D-MO), the Democratic presidential candidate, in 1948. It was the only state outside the American heartland to do so. Thus, for the first time since 1928 and the second time in history, the entirety of the U.S. Northeast except Rhode Island and Massachusetts went GOP.
Not coincidentally, 1948 was also the first year when the Southern Democrats, disgusted at the new Black rights plank in the national Democratic platform:
The Democratic Party is responsible for the great civil rights gains made in recent years in eliminating unfair and illegal discrimination based on race, creed or color,
The Democratic Party commits itself to continuing its efforts to eradicate all racial, religious and economic discrimination.
We again state our belief that racial and religious minorities must have the right to live, the right to work, the right to vote, the full and equal protection of the laws, on a basis of equality with all citizens as guaranteed by the Constitution.
We highly commend President Harry S. Truman for his courageous stand on the issue of civil rights.
ran their own overtly segregationist presidential candidate, Governor of South Carolina Strom Thurmond, who ended up winning every state in the Deep South except Georgia (where he was on the ticket as a third party candidate, not as a Democrat). One of the most important men in the national Democrats’ adoption of this civil rights plank was Hubert Humphrey, a Minnesotan who had joined the Democrats during their merger with the Farmer-Labor Party, a socialist/Progressive-leaning anti-Wilsonian, anti-Wall Street, strongly anti-imperialist, pro-civil liberties, anti-inflation party strongest in Minnesota, a solidly Republican state during the Fourth Party System and a solidly Democratic one during the Sixth. This was the beginning of the transformation of Minnesota into the Democrats’ least penetrable stronghold and the national Democratic abandonment of the Deep South. 1948 resulted in national Democratic gains in much of the Great Plains and Midwest (including Minnesota and Missouri), and substantial national Democratic losses, but no substantial GOP gains, in the Deep South.
Then, something very much resembling the 1928 (and, to some extent, 1920) electoral map at last returned in 1952:
It doesn’t seem the FDR era had much of an effect on anything relating to the presidential vote besides making Blacks 75% Democratic (until 1964, when that share rose to 90%) instead of, as formerly, solidly Republican, making (((Jews))) evenly 90% Democratic (instead of, as formerly, split on the basis of class) making some of North Texas and Minnesota more Democratic (as they were in the election of 1920), turning the Dakotas and Nebraska even more solidly Republican, and making the part of Kentucky that went for Ted Cruz and central West Virginia (West Virginia became Democratic in 1876, then Republican in 1896, then more Democratic than average in 1948 and, with the sole exception of 1972, stayed that way until 2000, when it became solidly Republican again), northeastern Alabama, much of Georgia, and the Florida panhandle more Democratic:
Sorry, no cartogram for 1952. If you find one, especially one made by Tilden76, I’ll add it.
Arizona and Utah also went from Democratic-leaning to Republican-leaning in 1952, but because of Stevenson and Eisenhower, not FDR.
Interestingly, much like George W. Bush’s vote parallels that of Woodrow Wilson and William Jennings Bryan, (((Bernie Sanders)))’ vote has an uncanny similarity, though by no means a rock-solid one, to that for Dwight Eisenhower:
and in case you were wondering, no, it’s not just Blacks.
Except for the shift in the Black and (((Jewish))) votes, generally minor developments. Eisenhower’s victory in 1952 was still basically the same as any previous Republican presidential victory. No significant shift in the geographic base of the party had yet occurred. However, segregationist South Carolinan and Mississippian voter turnout for Eisenhower soared in 1952, due to pro-Black-Rights national Democrats’ unpopularity and the abolition of the poll tax in South Carolina that same year, allowing far more Whites as well as Blacks to vote. Thus, Eisenhower, who would later show himself to be a champion of Civil Rights, became the first Republican to win the White vote in South Carolina, while it was only the soaring Black vote resulting from the poll tax abolition that prevented that state from becoming the first state in the Deep South to go Republican in a presidential election since the dark days of 1876. Despite segregationists’ increasing Republican vote, as exemplified by former Governor Strom Thurmond’s 1952 endorsement of Eisenhower due to his disgust with the integrationism of Governor Stevenson, the South remained strongly Democratic (even if, as in 1948, Southern Democratic). Even when considering GOP gains in the Deep South and Arkansas in 1952 relative to 1948 (and, in Mississippi and South Carolina, but not Georgia and Alabama, relative to 1928), it was still the only part of the country (other than West Virginia and Kentucky) that voted for the Democratic presidential candidate that year. Vermont, the firmest bastion of the Yankees, was still the most Republican state in the Union, just as it was the most anti-Democrat state in the Union during the Second Party System. The most Democratic-voting state in the Union in 1952 and 1956 was Georgia, still part of the Solid South, as it was since the beginning of the Third Party System. Nevertheless, Eisenhower did succeed in cracking the Solid South for the first time by winning the majority of the popular vote in Louisiana in 1956, due to his support of state control of offshore oil drilling and Stevenson’s opposition to it. In Mississippi and South Carolina the Republican voters of 1952 mostly voted for unpledged electors in 1956. Democrats outside the South were still most popular in cities disproportionately inhabited by descendants of non-Anglo-Germanic White immigrants such as Boston. As of 1956, there had been no great shift in the major parties’ support base, except among Blacks and (((Jews))). Only changes in emphasis.
Above: a map of U.S. Presidential election results from 1932 to 1956. More wins by a party’s candidate=more blue or red color. More votes with the winner=lighter shade. Southern Democrats in 1948 counted as Democrats for purposes of partisanship, but not votes with the winner.
Nevertheless, there had been huge ideological shifts in the parties during the New Deal/Fair Deal era. By the time of Eisenhower’s first election, the representatives from (and, by logic, the voters of) Vermont and Mississippi had fully politically converged on DW-NOMINATE’s first dimension (but only its first dimension). There was much uncertainty over if Eisenhower was a liberal or a conservative. He had become more popular in the Northeast during his re-election, even making Rhode Island vote more for the Republican presidential candidate than the national average for the very last time. DW-NOMINATE first-dimension issues had little to do with the presidential vote in the 1950s; rather, second-dimension issues dominated. Today, second-dimension issues are nothing. First-dimension issues are everything. The same was true during the decade of the 1900s. The shift of the Southern Democrats in the direction of the GOP in the 1920s in the House and the 1930s in the Senate changed that. And the New Deal, which led the Northern Democrats to unify with the Farmer-Labor Party, prevented that from returning for at least a generation.
GIF showing the Southern realignment to the Republican party, each frame at the beginning of each party system. From http://voteview.com/dwnl.html . Black line drawn by me.
It is important to note that as a result of this, the average state deviation from the national popular vote in presidential elections strongly declined during the Fifth Party System, especially in 1952 relative to 1948:
The above chart uses the two-party vote for all elections but 1832 (excluding Georgia, Mississippi, Missouri), 1856, 1860, 1912, and 1968, in which the Democratic vote share is used, and 1892 (excluding Florida), 1948, and 1964, in which the Republican vote share is used. Washington, DC is included.
Part IV: A Word on Ideology:
I must now elaborate a bit about the political spectrum (click on the link; I cannot do it justice). The DW-Nominate political spectrum is a curious creature, especially before roughly the middle of the Fifth Party System. You and I can both easily recognize the American political spectrum of the 1960s as the one existing in the United States even unto this day. But, when Voteview presents this spectrum to show the changing ideological tendencies of the two parties, it shows the most firm and intolerant southern segregationist of the 1910s and 1920s (click on the link) in exactly the same spot as the Eternal Representative John Conyers (who hasn’t changed much in half a century). It also shows (((Meyer London))), a 1920s Socialist, as in the middle of the political spectrum, very close to John E. Rankin, future co-author of the Tennessee Valley Authority bill and firm segregationist, opponent of (((Jewish))) Bol’shevism, Francisco Franco sympathizer, and opponent of U.S. war against Hitler. Equally bizarrely, it shows (((Victor Berger))), another 1920s Socialist, as ideologically a moderate Republican. The same thing happens with the Farmer-Labor Congressmen in the same decade. Considering the 1920 platforms of the Socialist and Farmer-Labor parties and the anti-Communism and opposition to Filipino independence (and, for that matter, women’s suffrage) of the most ideologically extreme Republican representative of the time, as well as the admiration for presidents Calvin Coolidge (a true Yankee and Brahmin in every sense) and Warren G. Harding by modern conservatives, this, at first glance, is clearly ridiculous. However, DW-Nominate also has a second dimension, consisting largely of cross-party issues. These issues were variously Jacksonianism in the 1820s, Nullification in the 1830s, Southern issues in the 1840s, Know-Nothingism in the 1850s, Unionism during the Civil War, Greenbackery in the 1880s, Agrarian Populism in the 1890s, Progressivism and Socialism in the 1910s, Farmer-Laborism/Progressivism/Socialism in the 1920s in the House and the 1930s in the Senate, and, in the late 1930s and after, Southern issues, again. In the mid-1980s, it was whatever Bill Proxmire and Jesse Helms scored very highly on and what Barry (((Goldwater))) scored very low on. Right now, it’s whatever Representative Walter Jones scores highly on. In the late 1920s, DW-Nominate’s second dimension corresponded better to the present-day DW-Nominate first dimension than did DW-Nominate’s 1920s first dimension. Though you might consider the below graph, which shows both the GOP and the Dems getting more polarized from the 76th to 95th Congress (1939 to 1977), between which the more left-wing party gained House seats, as a help to your understanding:
much more helpful are Sean Trende’s maps of how the country’s occupants of House seats changed their ideologies (red=more extreme Republican ideology; blue=more extreme Democratic DW-NOMINATE first dimension ideology):
Note that each House district has an approximately equivalent number of people. In 1902, the divide is extremely clear: Democratic former slave states v. everyone else (with occasional exceptions, as in Boston, New York City (which voted against Lincoln), and small parts of Pennsylvania and New Jersey that voted against Lincoln)
Here, the relative geographic party strengths remain clear, but the ideological boundary lines between the slave and free states have blurred, especially between West Virginia and Missouri. East Tennessee’s representatives start to blend in with their neighbors. We see the origins of a three-party system, with the Northern and Southern House Democrats being easily distinguishable when both DW-NOMINATE dimensions are considered, with Southern House (but not yet Senate) Democrats gravitating to the positions of the Socialist and Farmer-Labor parties, and northern Democrats being far away from these. The most extremely Republican representatives are to be found in Massachusetts and New Jersey. The South, Minnesota, and Wisconsin have become more purple.
Northern (at this point, still largely Tammany) Democrats in Manhattan have become bluer than most Southern Democrats. The age of substantial ideological partisan overlap has begun. From now until the 1960s, Vermont’s “Republican” and Mississippi’s “Democratic” representatives move closer and closer together on DW-NOMINATE’S first dimension until, with the election of Winston Prouty in 1950, they are distinguishable only on the DW-NOMINATE second dimension. The three-party system in the House is also distinguishable, with the Farmer-Labor Party being in the dead center of both DW-NOMINATE dimensions in the House. The entirety of the partisan depolarization during the pre-Depression 1920s resulted from Southern representatives voting more like Progressive/Farmer-Labor/Socialist-leaning Republicans. The heart of the Republican Party is in the Midwest and Northeast. Downtown Manhattan is home to among the bluest of Democratic representatives, Christy Sullivan, a chronically absentee future Tammany Hall leader. East Tennessee’s Republicans have become almost indistinguishable from typical southern representatives.
By the end of the New Deal Era, when almost all cities have Democratic-majority congressional districts, the representatives at the ideological extreme of the Republican Party (at this point, the firmest anti-New-Dealers) are primarily in Missouri, Illinois, and Ohio. The House (not yet Senate) Southern Democrats have fully and entirely sorted themselves out from the Northern Democrats, with the Farmer-Labor Party still being in the center, but closer to the northern Democrats and the Republicans than the Southern Democrats when both dimensions are considered. The representatives from southern Illinois become increasingly Republican-leaning. The Ohio river is a clear border, with the rural representatives North of it being far more anti-FDR.The Great Migration of Blacks to the North has begun to yield some of its fruits. Pittsburgh, the California coast, the Seattle region, New York City, and Oklahoma see some of the most extreme Democratic (first dimension) representatives in the country. West Virginia has not yet been transformed into being much more Democratic (first dimension) than the rest of the country. There is no longer any doubt that Southern Democrats have transitioned from being the Democratic Party’s extreme ideological wing to being mostly its (first-dimension) moderates. A few years later, American Labor (pinko) politicians (((Leo Isaacson))), judged by DW-Nominate to be the second most ideologically Democratic (first-dimension) representative in the post-1937 history of Congress, and Vito Marcantonio (also judged by DW-Nominate to be more ideologically Democratic (first-dimension) than most modern Democrats) would be elected by voters in the state of New York. By the late 1940s, as a result of FDR’s ideological transformation of the Democratic Party, DW-Nominate clearly places socialists firmly on the extreme ideological Democratic (first-dimension) side of the political spectrum, not, as in the mid-1920s, the first-dimension political center or in the midst of moderate Republicans. Southern Democrats remain the party’s extremists on the second dimension, with those lowest on the second dimension being mostly Republicans, but some northern Dems as well.
By 1962, even Silicon Valley is turning Democratic, and Los Angeles is becoming even bluer. Madison, WI, has gotten an extreme Democratic representative. West Virginia has become solidly Democratic. At this point, the extreme wing of the Democratic Party is basically the same as that today. The same can be said of the extreme wing of the Republican Party. However, the parties are much less sorted than they are today, with there existing lots of conservative Democrats and left-leaning Republicans. For example, even though all the representatives from South Carolina are nominally “Democratic”, two are more first-dimension Republican than the “Republican” representative from Vermont -and the rest are only marginally less so. The major differences between them are almost solely on the second dimension.
By the early 1970s, House conservatives have ceased to have a fixed geographic center of any kind. Madison, New York City, Oakland, and West Virginia remain solidly Democratic. There are more conservatives in Southern than Northern California, and there are remarkably few of them in Greater Appalachia and the Mountain West.
Sean has released no representative ideology map for 2014, but, as the two parties today are clearly ideologically separate:
it’s safe to say where the parties’ strongest regions are. The White-majority regions outside New England, Minnesota, the West Coast, and the Upper Mississippi Valley Anomaly (Driftless Region) are almost all Republican.
It is these ideological trends, as well as Democrats’ renewed attempts to build an Al Smith-type coalition, that led to the geographical party shift.
Part V: The Sixth Party System: The Age of Critical Elections
The most important developments of the party shift would occur between 1958 and 2000, with a solidification of previously existing trends occurring between 2002 and 2014.
The first major event of the party shift was the generation-long and complete gerrymandering of House districts to favor the Democrats. This was far stronger than post-1994 pro-GOP gerrymandering, and was bolstered by the House Democrats getting a persistent majority of the popular vote until the 1994 Republican Revolution, with many districts being uncontested.
The first truly clear sign of the ascent of the House Democratic Party was the election of Bill Meyer, the most left-wing representative of the twentieth century, as a Democrat, as Representative for Vermont in 1958. This was not a fluke. It was followed by Vermont permanently ceasing to be the most Republican-voting state in the country in 1960 (that role at first temporarily going to Nebraska) and the election of Vermont’s first Democratic governor in a century in 1962. Obviously, he was a flaming progressive . All the other Vermont governorships would be an unbroken alternating series of Republican and Democratic governors.
Democrats also won a massive number of House seats in 1958, mostly in states that were generally Republican during the Fifth Party System, such as Indiana and Connecticut.
The election of 1960 was the first in which a Catholic successfully won the presidency.
It was not a replay of 1948 or 1928.
From the 1860s to the 1960s, the Irish Catholic Democrats of Boston, New York City, and Providence had slowly been assimilating to Brahmin (including (((Jewish)))) ways. Their customs had been steadily diverging from the customs of the Democrats of the Solid South. Their general overt racism (recall, New York City Democrats, for the most part, openly supported slavery in 1864) and clannishness of the 1860s gave way to the most gleeful demands for forced integration of Blacks by the 1960s. FDR’s ideological realignment of the Democratic Party kept these Irish Catholics in the Democratic column, but it did not prevent them from becoming more left-wing -if anything, it spurred the process on. The last remnant of there having been any sign of their former political beliefs and behaviors is their very strong primary vote for Trump. The Donald’s best primary performance was in Rhode Island, the most heavily Catholic state in the country, before his opponents’ exit, and in New Jersey, another heavily Catholic state, after. Outside the Catholic-majority areas of New England, Yankees in New Hampshire, upstate New York, and Vermont had a much greater tendency than the rest of the non-urbanized parts of the country to vote for Kasich in the recent primaries.
Though most states that switched to a presidential candidate of a different party from 1948 to 1960 switched to the Republican presidential candidate, New York, Delaware, New Jersey, Maryland, Connecticut, and Pennsylvania all flipped from Dewey to Kennedy (a fairly average northern left-wing Democrat, roughly analagous to John Kerry or Hillary Clinton today). The Northeast was the only part of the country to have states flip from Dewey to Kennedy. Of the states existent in 1796 which voted for Adams, only one -Delaware- failed to have a greater two-party swing to the Democratic presidential candidate than the national average in 1960. All the states existent in 1796 that voted for Jefferson had a two-party swing to Kennedy that was either nonexistent (as in South Carolina, Tennessee, and Georgia) or smaller than the national average. All other regions of the country but the Northeast-the South, the Pacific coast, the Mountain West, the Great Plains, the Industrial Midwest- had states flip from Truman (a firm New Dealer) to Nixon (a nominally Republican political centrist) -and only Truman to Nixon (the only exception being South Carolina, which flipped from Thurmond to Kennedy, due only to looser voting restrictions). And Nixon had performed almost as well in South Carolina in 1960 as Eisenhower did in 1952, despite the much greater nationwide popularity of the Democrats in 1960. Tennessee had counties flip from Thurmond to Nixon. The northern Pacific Coastal counties (but not states) went Democratic (to a far greater extent than in 1948, much less 1952). In California, San Francisco and Los Angeles Counties, both of which went for Eisenhower, went for Kennedy. Alabama, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Georgia, North Carolina, Tennessee and Kentucky were the only states in which Nixon won a greater share of the vote in 1960 than Eisenhower did in 1952.
There were a whole host of states with razor-thin margins. Nevada was 51-48 Kennedy. New Jersey was 50-49 Kennedy. Illinois was 50-50 Kennedy (indeed, had it not been for Chicago voter fraud, Illinois would have voted with the loser). New Mexico was 50-49 Kennedy. Hawaii was 50-50 Kennedy. California was 50-49 Nixon. New York was 53-47 Kennedy. Washington was 51-48 Nixon. Oregon was 53-47 Nixon. Minnesota was 51-49 Kennedy. Wisconsin was 52-48 Nixon. Michigan was 51-49 Kennedy. South Carolina was 51-49 Kennedy. Ohio was 53-47 Nixon. Delaware was 51-49 Kennedy. West Virginia was 53-47 Kennedy. Florida was 52-48 Nixon. Virginia was 52-47 Nixon. North Carolina was 52-48 Kennedy. Missouri was 50-50 Kennedy. Alaska was 51-49 Nixon. Of the ten most polarized states, five voted Democratic and five Republican. Never since the days of James Monroe had the nation been less geographically polarized between two presidential candidates. The only clear pattern was this: of the five most strongly Nixon-voting states in the country, four were in the Great Plains (the other one was Vermont). Of the five states that voted most strongly against Nixon, all were in the Northeast and South.
Georgia also ceased to be the most heavily Democrat-voting state in the country, that role going to heavily Catholic Rhode Island.
The Al Smith strategy had worked. The Fifth Party System had collapsed. Even as the Senatorial election patterns remained pretty conventional, the 1960 presidential election was a clear break from all previous ones in the Republicans’ complete failure to win the non-Yankee-majority Northeast while winning outright majorities in five southern states.
If the changing signs of the times were at least plausibly deniable in 1960, they could not have been clearer in 1964:
Only the Deep South (for the very first time) and Arizona (the GOP presidential candidate’s home state) were taken by the GOP Presidential candidate. The GOP platform looked like it was mostly written by the unborn Senator Ted Cruz.
Everyone knows what happened in 1964: the economy was booming, poll taxes were abolished, Johnson signed into law the 1964 Civil Rights Act and proposed the Great Society. Senator Strom Thurmond became a (moderate) Republican. The winner of the Republican primaries was Barry (((Goldwater))), a harshly militarist anti-Communist anti-New-Deal anti-Great-Society Arizona Senator (succeeded by future GOP loser Juan McSame, who also won Arizona and the Deep South) who voted against the 1964 Civil Rights Act due to his conviction that it was unconstitutional. He was also the second GOP presidential candidate (after Herbert Hoover) to have an explicitly declared Southern Strategy, saying that the GOP would not be able to win in 1964 without winning the South. That was good enough for the segregationists of the Deep South, who despised Johnson for his betrayal of the segregationist cause, the state of Alabama not even placing his name on the ballot. The state that had the greatest percentage of votes switch to the Democratic candidate was Maine, with Vermont a close second. The state that swung hardest to the GOP candidate was Mississippi. The most Democratic state in the country remained Rhode Island, with Hawaii rising to a close second due to its strongly integrationist leanings. John Conyers (D-Michigan) was elected to Congress, quickly became its most left-wing member (as measured on DW-Nominate) and remains there even unto this day (though is no longer its most left-wing member). The present-day left-right political spectrum, as measured by DW-nominate, is fully formed and recognizable by this time, which certainly cannot be said of the DW-nominate first dimension of 1916.
The defeat of Senator (((Goldwater))) created a generation of conservatives too afraid to vouch for their ideology with zeal. Nevertheless, more than a few southern Republicans were created via this fiasco, with the state gaining the most southern Republican representatives being Alabama.
1968 was something of a repeat of 1960, except with George Wallace winning every state in the Deep South except South Carolina. Maine and Washington, both of which voted Republican in 1960, swung into Humphrey’s hands. New York State and Texas both went for Humphrey, though not by majority, but by plurality. Majorities in Vermont and New Hampshire continued voting for Nixon. Rhode Island, followed by Massachusetts, was the most Democratic-voting state in the country. Wallace acted as a spoiler candidate in many states, thus resulting in the election being given to Nixon (Wallace’s actual intent was to take the election to the heavily Democratic House of Representatives, where concessions could be exacted from Humphrey).
1972, however was a different matter. The Dems nominated the third most left-wing Democrat in the Senate (a friend of abortion, amnesty, and acid) as their nominee. The nation, just as it rejected the extremism of the most right-wing Republican in the Senate in 1964, rejected this born loser with equal intensity. West Virginia joined the South in shifting to Nixon to an even greater extent than the national average:
Only the support of much-admired Ted Kennedy for McGovern kept Massachusetts from voting for Nixon.
I now introduce to you the McGovern v. (((Goldwater))) map, based on who won a larger percentage of the popular vote in their landslide defeats.
In this map, McGovern narrowly loses the popular vote, but wins the electoral college 301-237 (based on the 1960 census apportionment). As always in the Sixth Party System, Missouri and Delaware vote with the winner. Notice that the Party Shift is virtually entirely complete by this time -in just fifty-six years! The difference between the inverted 1916 map and this map is the same number of states as that between the inverted 1916 map and 2000 map -seven states. (((Goldwater))) in this map wins every state Wilson did in 1916 except Maryland, California, Washington, Missouri, and Ohio. McGovern wins every state Hughes did except Illinois and Indiana. As West Virginia, South Dakota, and New Mexico vote in the inverted 1916 pattern, unlike in 2000, the map is no more states removed from the inverted 1916 map than it is from the 2000 one. The seven states which diverge from the 2000 map are Alaska, South Dakota, Missouri, Illinois, West Virginia, Ohio, and New Mexico.
What’s especially curious about this McGovern v. (((Goldwater))) map is the switch in voting preferences of Illinois and Missouri. The populous northern well-educated counties surrounding the urban core of Chicago have become much more liberal and, obviously, less Republican-voting in the past half-century. Remember, (((Goldwater))) won the White college-educated vote! No doubt, this is due to the Democratic Party having become the Party of Lincoln during the past forty years (click the link). Westward, McCain won Missouri in 2008 by a narrow margin as a result of the depopulation of St. Louis and Kansas City and the Republicanization of the countryside, especially the formerly hemp-growing area called Little Dixie, the capital of which is Monroe County. This county first voted for a Republican presidential candidate in 1984 (before the Civil War, it voted solidly Whig), voted for Bill Clinton in 1996 and Bush II in 2000, and voted for McCain in 2008.
The irony, of course, is that we almost got a McGovern v. (((Goldwater))) race this year -had Hillary been indicted and Trump imploded, the race today would be between (((Bernie Sanders))) and Ted Cruz -one of the most left-wing and one of the most right-wing Senators in the 114th Congress!
It was in 1972 that the famous partisan income gap between Whites of the same education level began to appear to any substantial degree.
Then Watergate was exposed and the 1974 recession hit, and Nixon turned from a guy who was tired of winning into a punchline.
Patrick Leahy, a moderate Democrat and the first and, until 2015, only Democratic Senator in the post-Civil War history of Vermont, was elected in 1974.
Carter, a Southern Democrat, brought the United States into a curious East-West alignment in 1976, similar to that of 1960, with the East voting Democrat and the West voting Republican. Nevada, New Mexico, Connecticut, New Jersey, and Illinois all voted for both Kennedy and Ford, while Ohio, Tennessee, and Kentucky all voted both for Nixon in 1960 and Carter in 1976. This was despite Nixon winning far more counties than Ford in Illinois. Between these two elections, it is clear that the center of gravity of the Republican party had shifted from the Midwest (especially the Great Plains) and rural Northeast to the Mountain West. For the first time, the most Republican-voting state in the country in 1976 was Utah.
Like Samuel Tilden in 1876, Carter won both Mississippi and New York, but unlike Tilden in 1876, Carter won Pennsylvania, but lost New Jersey and Connecticut.
Interestingly, and not surprisingly, Republicans in 1976 managed a much stronger hold on southern cities than they do today. Dallas and Houston, Texas, Hinds County, Mississippi, Birmingham and Montgomery, Alabama, Shreveport, Louisiana, Pinellas County, Florida, the Arlington, VA, metro area, and Raleigh, North Carolina were all urban places that voted both for Gerald Ford and Barack Obama. This was how Obama won Virginia. Mississippi in 1976 was a swing state precisely because of Ford winning over 70% of the urban White vote in that state.
Part VI: The Sixth Party System: The Reagan Revolution and the Seeds of the Seventh Party System
FDR was a uniter. He overthrew the previous party system by completely changing the definition of the DW-NOMINATE first dimension. Reagan, meanwhile, was a polarizer. He gave victory to the cause of conservatism and ended the stigma on ideological opposition to the New Deal that had prevailed in the Republican Party since the days of Barry (((Goldwater))). He solidified the definition of the DW-NOMINATE first dimension, causing the percentage of overlapping legislators on this dimension in both houses of Congress to fall into the single digits. Reagan’s first election had striking resemblances to earlier Republican victories. He performed especially strongly in future swing states New Hampshire and Nevada, and fairly poorly in much of the South, despite beginning his campaign in Mississippi. The only state in which a majority voted for Jimmy Carter in 1980 was Georgia. The Reagan era party system was far different from that today -Reagan won Vermont and California both times. Nevertheless, the Reagan Revolution did bring an end to the rapid swings and extreme candidate-centered politics that characterized the pre-Reagan Sixth Party System. The state-level results relative to the popular vote of 1980 were correlated with those in 1976 with a coefficient of over .8, and they would never get any lower than that from 1980 to today. The era of “critical elections” on the level of 1960, 1964, or 1976 was over.
In the 1976 Republican nomination battle (map above), the vote for Reagan had a striking parallel to to the Bush vote in 2000 (and that for Ford had a striking parallel to the McKinley vote in 1896). Thus, Reagan was, by all appearances, the man who ended up defining the modern Republican party to clearly be the party of Utah and Texas, not Vermont and Connecticut.
The unusual and often unmentioned character in 1980 was liberal Republican John Anderson. He won the Republicans who would convert to Democracy in droves during the 1990s. He was the candidate of the Brahmins. Five of his five best states were in New England, while ten out of his ten worst states were in the South. All the states that went for Adams in 1796 had at least 6.5% of their state’s voters voting for Anderson. All the states existent in 1796 that went for Jefferson had less than 6.5% of their state’s voters voting for Anderson. Thus, due to the liberal Republicanism of Anderson, Vermont became the only state in the Union in which Carter in 1980 won a larger share of the two-party vote than in 1976. It wasn’t the Democrat running for president in 1980 (who, it happens, is still alive even unto the time of writing), but the independent liberal Republican, who would be the future of the Democratic Party.
In 1984, Reagan won in a landslide, losing only one state -his opponent’s home state- by a few thousand votes. The vote had a massive swing to the entire South (except Maryland, which had a moderate swing), but also Michigan, Rhode Island, Connecticut, Maine, and Vermont:
Swing from http://uselectionatlas.org/RESULTS/national.php?year=1984&off=0&elect=0&f=0 . Yes, the site uses Red for Dems and Blue for GOP.
Thus, Reagan became the first presidential candidate to win all the states that existed in 1796 since James Monroe. In the states that existed in 1796, he performed best in New Hampshire and among South Carolina Whites. He performed worst in Massachusetts and among Rhode Island Whites.
But pride always comes before the fall. The great, thorough, and marvelously prescient election analyst Kevin Phillips predicted in 1990 that the Democrats would take back the presidency in the 1990s. They did. But the reasoning he gave for this was precisely the opposite of the truth. Phillips claimed Republicans would lose because they had identified themselves too much with the interests of the wealthy. Yet, as ably documented by Andrew Gelman, the correlation between Republican voting and income which began to grow under Nixon peaked precisely in the 1980s, specifically, 1984. In 1984, when the college-educated moved away from Reagan in droves, the rich non-college-educated moved strongly toward him. In 1984, Marin County (which voted for Hillary in the 2 primaries) began its since-continuous streak of voting Democrat, never to vote Republican again. The same was true for Santa Cruz County (which went for Bernie). During Bush I’s term in office, his support among the wealthy collapsed. He was elected in 1988 with much lower support from the wealthy, especially the Northeastern and Californian wealthy, than Reagan in 1984. The What’s the Matter with Connecticut pattern, in which the rich in present-day solid Blue states vote Democrat almost as much as the poor, began to emerge. The Party of FDR was transforming into the new Federalist party -the John Anderson Voters’ Party.
And then at last, primarily, though not entirely, as a result of Bush I, the Yankees began to permanently bolt to the Democratic Party. The last Republican representative of Vermont was succeeded by (((Bernie Sanders))) in 1991. Despite the Democrats having a ticket consisting of the Democratic Governor of Arkansas and the Democratic junior senator from Tennessee, the state which Andrew Jackson represented (man, those were the days!) and the only state where Bush I in 1988 performed better than Reagan in 1984, this ticket became the first Democratic ticket since the days of Barry (((Goldwater))) and the second in all history to win the Yankee state of Vermont. Ideology was beginning to triumph over region.
Yet, the Democratic Party of 1992 was not yet the new Federalist Party. Most of the states in which Clinton overperformed Dukakis precentage-wise were in the South. In 1992, New Jersey was more Republican in every way than Pennsylvania and Delaware.
Two years later, as ably recounted by (((Murray Rothbard))), in response to the hare-brained left-wing social engineering schemes of Bill Clinton and his wife, Newt Gingrich performed what was then seen as a miracle: he managed to unify Congress under the banner of the Republican Party.
As a response to Clinton’s liberalism, however, in 1996, all the Jefferson states of 1796 (with the sole exception of West Virginia, which was not a state in 1796 in any case) had under 49.2% of their voters vote for Bill Clinton. All the Adams states of 1796 had over 49.2% of their voters vote for Bill Clinton. The marriage gap was rapidly emerging as a force in politics. Under the reverse-Jacksonian leadership of Bill and Hillary Clinton, the Democrats were becoming the new Federalists.
Yet, despite this, the Solid South was not solidly Republican until 2000. Both Louisiana and Arkansas had majorities voting for Bill Clinton in 1996. Yet, it was precisely the years 1994-1996 when the White Democratic representatives from the South would be replaced by firm Republicans. In 1996, every Democratic gain in the House was in states that voted for Barack Obama in 2008. Every Republican gain in the House was in states that voted for John McCain in 2008. In 1992, every representative from Mississippi was a Democrat. In 1994, a Republican was elected there. And, in 1996, three out of five representatives from Mississippi were Republicans. The case in Alabama is similar: three out of seven representatives Republican in 1992 and 1994, five out of seven in 1996. And in Georgia: 4 out of 11 representatives Republican in 1992, 7 out of 11 in 1994, 8 out of 11 in 1996. And Louisiana: 3 out of 7 representatives Republican in 1992 and 1994, 4 out of 7 in 1996. And South Carolina: 3 out of 6 Republican representatives in 1992, 4 out of 6 in 1994 and 1996. By 2000, a clear majority of representatives from the Deep South were Republican. Every state in the South except Arkansas had an increase in its Republican representatives from 1992 to 1996. The Republicans were, under Newt Gingrich, becoming the Party of Jefferson. They were becoming the new Jacksonian Democrats.
In 1996, all the states existent in 1796 that voted for Adams with the sole exception of Maryland swung to Clinton more than the national average. All the states existent in 1796 that voted for Jefferson either, as North Carolina, Georgia, Tennessee, and Kentucky did, swung away from Clinton, or swung toward him by a smaller amount than the national average (all swings calculated excluding third parties). Left-wing social engineering schemes were popular in the Adams states in 1796. And they still are.
The Sixth Party System, as I have defined it, was not a Republican-dominated party system. Indeed, the House of Representatives remained under Democratic control for all but six years of it. Republicans won five of the ten presidential elections between 1960 and 1996, with Democrats winning three of the five between 1960 and 1976 and Republicans winning three of the five between 1980 and 1996. Though it is true there was an “emerging Republican majority” in the middle of the Sixth Party System, beginning in 1968, which resulted in Republicans winning five out of the six elections between 1968 and 1988, the Sixth Party System, as I have defined it, began and ended with the elections of Democratic presidents. Had a butterfly wing flapped and Nixon won the election of 1960, five of the ten elections of the Sixth Party System, as I have defined it, would still have been won by Republicans, the late 1970s would have been even more known for “neoliberalism” than it actually was, a Nixon-esque Republican landslide would have probably occurred in 1964, and Democratic landslides would have occurred in 1980 and 1984. Republican presidencies would have been known for fewer recessions than Democratic ones. Stuff would have been different, and would have happened in a different order. But the Seventh Party System would probably have come pretty similarly.
Below: states by percentage of Republican (more Red) and Democratic (more Blue) wins during the Sixth Party System. Lighter shade=more votes with the winner. Alabama counted as voting for Kennedy in 1960; unpledged electors in Mississippi and George Wallace excluded from color, but not shade. Only Delaware and Missouri voted with the winner 100% of the time; at present they are solidly Blue and Red, respectively.
Part VII: The Seventh Party System (2000-2030s): No More Landslides
It is abundantly clear that today’s party system began in 2000. Its primary features are:
*Republican control of the entire Deep South, West Virginia, the non-Mexican Mountain West, and the Great Plains in Presidential elections.
*Democratic Federal-level control of the vast majority of cities, pre-Perot solid Republican strongholds Illinois, California, and New Jersey, and most of the nation’s Brahmins and racial minorities in both Presidential and Congressional races.
*Florida and Ohio as vital swing states in Presidential elections
*A Republican bias in House elections
*A reasonably competitive Senate
*Absolutely positively no more Presidential election landslides.
*The Democratic Party trending increasingly non-White and college-educated.
*The Republican Party trending increasingly non-college-educated.
*An extremely strong partisan marriage gap
*Lots of independents, but very little split-ticket voting
*Large ideological divisions between the parties in Congress and among the public
*A very strong urban-rural divide, except in a few areas (most notably, the Driftless Area and New England -and even those may be returning to Republican control)
*A strong correlation between the parties of state Presidential and Senate winners
*As in the early Sixth Party System, very little power of party elites, with successful ideological and non-ideological insurgent candidates being reasonably common
*Declining favorability of major-party nominees among the general public
*Negative correlation of rank orders of preference of primary candidates between Republicans+leaners and Democrats+leaners
*Rising participation in primaries and caucuses
*A very clearly defined political spectrum, with socialism on the far Left wing and libertarianism on the far Right.
The most curious feature of the Seventh Party system is the Republican consolidation of control of Greater Appalachia and the Democratic trend of the Tidewater. This is the reverse of the pattern of the Sixth Party System, in which Greater Appalachia was generally far more Democratic than the Tidewater -indeed, in 1984, Tennessee had a smaller proportion of its voters voting for Reagan than Vermont. During the Sixth Party System, East Virginia voted Republican in 9 out of 10 elections, while West Virginia voted Democratic in 8 out of 10 (the sole exceptions being the Republican landslides of 1972 and 1984). Now, the pattern is reversed, with West Virginia being among the most solidly Republican states in the country, while Virginia turned from the swingiest of swing states, to, as of 2016, more of a blue state than Wisconsin, Michigan, and Pennsylvania.
The 2000 election which began this party system had dozens of events favoring Bush:
*Every state in the country but Maryland swung toward the Republican candidate.
*Yankee New England swung toward the Republican candidate to a greater extent than the rest of the nation, giving Bush New Hampshire.
*West Virginia swung to the Republican candidate for the first time since 1984.
*Gore didn’t win his home state.
*The economy began to slow down just months before the election.
*Gore didn’t win the incumbent president’s home state.
All in all, in retrospect, the 2000 election will be remembered as the first election of the Seventh Party System, as well as the one with the biggest swing (11 states!). This was the first election featuring a Saileran marriage gap, as well as the first election other than a Republican landslide in which non-college-educated Whites were more likely to vote for the Republican candidate than college-educated Whites.
Jim Jeffords, a political moderate and the last Republican Senator of Vermont, left the party in 2001 over his opposition to tax and spending cuts (which resulted in an 18-month period of Democrat control of the Senate). Vermont was the state that swung the hardest against Bush in his 2004 re-election. And thus, Vermont’s Whites became the most Democratic-leaning in the USA.
And that, folks, is how the Democrats became the Federalists.
TL;DR, the Dems became the Federalists due to FDR, and stayed on that path due to JFK and Bill Clinton.
|First Party System
|Second Party System
|Third Party System
|Fourth Party System
|Fifth Party System
|Sixth Party System
|Seventh Party System
|Vermont||Mostly Federalist||Solidly Whig||Solidly Republican||Solidly Republican||Solidly Republican||Mostly Republican||Solidly Democrat|
|Party of Business Interests-Hamiltonian Ends||Federalists||Whigs||Republicans||Republicans||Republicans||Republicans||Republicans|
|Party of Big Government- Hamiltonian Means||Federalists||Unquestionably Whigs (excluding Nullifiers)||Republicans, but tending to both||Both/Neither (tending away from Republicans)||Definitely Democrats||Definitely Democrats||Definitely Democrats|
|Party of Manhattan||Democrats||Democrats, mostly||Democrats||Democrats, mostly||Democrats||Democrats||Democrats|
|Party of Primary Industry||Democrats||Democrats, mostly||Democrats||Democrats in wheat, Republicans in coal||Republicans in wheat, Democrats in coal||Republicans in wheat, Democrats in coal||Definitely Republicans|
|Party of States’ Rights||Democrats||Democrats, for the most part||Democrats||Democrats, for the most part||Neither||Members on both sides, but leaning Republican||Republicans|
|Party of Free Trade||Both (more Democrats), later, neither)||Democrats, certainly||Democrats||Democrats||Democrats, but leaning Republicans||Generally Republicans||At this point, who knows? Mostly Republicans.|
|Black Party||No such thing.||Democrats (e.g., Van Buren)?||Definitely Republicans||Republicans||Democrats||Definitely Democrats||Definitely Democrats|
|Party of Militarism||Federalists||Democrats||Democrats at first, followed by Republicans during and after the war||Republicans||More Democrats, followed by more Republicans||Republicans||Republicans|
|Party of East Virginia||Solidly Democrats||Solidly Democrats||Solidly Democrats||Mostly Democrats||Mostly Democrats||Solidly Republicans||Split -trending Democratic|
|Party of West Virginia||Split||Split||Split||Republicans||Mostly Democrats||Definitely Democrats||Definitely Republicans|
|Party of the Wrong Kind of White People||Democrats||Democrats||Definitely Democrats||Democrats||Generally Democrats, but trending Republican||Both, but trending Republican||Republicans|
|Party of Recent Immigrants||Democrats||Democrats||Democrats (whites only; no Asiatics allowed)||Democrats||Immigration mostly closed; irrelevant. Mostly Democrats.||Split, but more Democrats||Democrats|
|Party of Sound Money||Democrats||Democrats||Democrats||Republicans||Republicans||Republicans||Republicans|
|Party of Minnesota||N/A||N/A||Solidly Republicans||Republicans||Democrats||Solidly Democrats||Democrats|
|Party of Women’s Rights||Federalists||Both||Republicans||Republicans||Split, but more Republicans||Split, but strongly trending Democrats||Democrats|
|Wisconsin Southeast Germanic Party||N/A||Democrats||Democrats||Republicans||Split||Republicans||Republicans|
|Voter Turnout||Low||Soaring||High||Falling||Moderate and Stable||Moderate and Falling||Moderate and Rising|
|Polarization in Congress||Rising, peaking, and disappearing||Low and shrinking||High and rising||High and shrinking||Very Low and shrinking||Low and rising||High and rising|
|Party of serious Catholics||N/A||Split||Democrats||Mostly Democrats||Democrats||Democrats||Definitely Republicans|
|Most Democratic State||Kentucky||Arkansas, then Texas||Georgia||South Carolina||Mississippi or Georgia||Minnesota||Vermont|
|Least Democratic State||Connecticut||Massachusetts or Vermont||Vermont||Vermont||Vermont||Utah||Utah or Wyoming (Whites only: Mississippi)|
|Biggest Swing towards Democrats||N/A||Connecticut||Kentucky||Nebraska||Minnesota||Massachusetts||Vermont|
|Biggest Swing against Democrats||N/A||Kentucky||Illinois||Connecticut||Nebraska||Mississippi||West Virginia|
|Interstate Presidential Popular Vote Polarization||Insufficient data||First Highest, then persistently Low||Moderate||Very High||Declining (High to Low)||Low-Moderate||High and Rising|
|Meaning of DW- NOMINATE first dimension||Tariff-led industrialization v. half -libertarian slaveocracy (Jefferson v. Hamilton)||Tariff-led industrialization v. half -libertarian slaveocracy (Van Buren v. John Quincy Adams)||Tariff-led industrialization v. quarter-libertarian agricultural export-based society (Cleveland v. Morrill)||Tariff-led industrialization v. agricultural export-based society (Blease v. Waterman)||Low domestic spending v. socialism (FDR v. Howard Buffett)||Low domestic spending v. socialism (McGovern v. Goldwater)||Low domestic spending v. socialism (Sanders v. Cruz)|
|Meaning of DW- NOMINATE second dimension||Not sure||Nullification and southern issues||Greenbacks and agrarian populism||Progress, socialism, Farmer-Laborism||Farmer- Laborism and Southern Issues||Southern Issues||Rural populism/authoritarianism/hawkishness v. environmentalism/libertarianism/dovishness|