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Are Democrats Becoming a Two-State Party?

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Percentage of Democratic U.S. House Seats from California and New York soars to a record high of 28.1 percent after the 2010 elections

Despite losing six U.S. House seats in New York on November 2nd (with defeats in NY-01 and NY-25 still tentative), the Democratic Party nonetheless continues to be ever more a party of two coasts - with a particular emphasis on the Empire and Golden States.

A Smart Politics analysis of 81 election cycles dating back to 1850 finds that the Democratic Party now comprises a larger percentage of Californians and New Yorkers in the U.S. House than at any point since California joined the Union.

When the 112th Congress convenes in January, 28.1 percent of the Democratic caucus will hail from California (34 members) and New York (20 members).

That marks an increase of 4.8 points from 23.3 percent of the caucus after the 2008 election and 6.5 points since the last Democratic collapse after the Republican Revolution of 1994 (21.6 percent).

While Democrats did not suffer any net losses in California in 2010 (though victories in CA-11 and CA-20 are still pending), the Party endured substantial setbacks in the south and Midwest, leaving the percentage of its U.S. Representatives from two of the nation's most liberal states at an all-time high.

And although the raw number of representatives in the Democratic caucus hailing from these two states has been higher after previous election cycles (60 seats in 2008, 57 in 1976 and 2006, and 55 in 1974), the Party has never been as reliant on the New York and California electorate as it is today.

Prior to the 28.1 percent mark tallied by the two states after the 2010 election cycle, the previous record high was 26.3 percent set in 1864 during the Civil War (with a depleted caucus due to seceded southern states).

During that cycle, New York held 10 of the nation's mere 38 Democratic House seats, with California sending none to D.C. (An 11th Democratic New York seat won on Election Day, NY-08, was later lost in a contested election).

The number of delegates from each of the two states has varied greatly across the decades, but has held relatively flat cumulatively since 1962.

Between 1962 and 2010 New York and California have accounted for between 18.2 percent and 19.1 percent of all U.S. House seats (with California's delegation increasing and New York's decreasing all the while).

Dating back to California's statehood in 1850, the two states comprised 15.5 percent of the nation's U.S. representatives, dipping to a low of 11.5 percent in the 1890s and early 1900s, and spiking to highs of 19.1 percent in 1860 and the 1990s.

The two states currently account for 18.9 percent of U.S. House seats.

There has been much greater variation in the percentage of Democratic seats from these two states, however, with the California and New York contingent comprising less than half of its current proportion as late as 1958 (35 of 283 Democratic seats, or just 12.4 percent).

There has also been a 61.5 percent increase in the percentage of Californians and New Yorkers in the House Democratic caucus from the 1962 election (17.4 percent) to 2010 (28.1 percent).

Aside from a brief surge in the concentration of Democrats from New York and California during the Civil War period (eclipsing 20 percent from 1860-1868), the Party's reliance on the delegations from these two states has been at an unprecedented high across the last two decades.

During the 1992-2000 redistricting period, 21.6 percent of Democratic House seats came from the Empire and Golden states - after relatively stable periods from 1962-1970 (18.0 percent), 1982-1990 (18.1 percent), and 1982-1990 (18.1 percent).

That percentage has now increased to 25.4 percent during the 2002-2010 period, or nearly twice as high as the 1952-1960 election cycles (12.9 percent).

Percentage of New York and California Delegations of All Democrats in U.S. House By Redistricting Period, 1850-2010

Period
NY
CA
Total
Democrats
%
1850
16
2
18
127
14.2
1852-1860
49
8
57
499
11.4
1862-1870
65
4
69
328
21.0
1872-1880
61
8
69
694
9.9
1882-1890
92
13
105
935
11.2
1892-1900
62
7
69
747
9.2
1902-1910
72
4
76
880
8.6
1912-1920
93
16
109
1,058
10.3
1922-1930
116
7
123
964
12.8
1932-1940
135
62
197
1,498
13.2
1942-1950
110
57
167
1,150
14.5
1952-1960
91
67
158
1,225
12.9
1962-1970
123
111
234
1,299
18.0
1972-1980
126
128
254
1,344
18.9
1982-1990
101
135
236
1,307
18.1
1992-2000
90
146
236
1,091
21.6
2002-2010
108
169
277
1,089
25.4
Total
1,510
944
2,454
16,235
15.1
Data reflects totals based on November election day results. Data compiled by Smart Politics.

Those taking the long view of history know that New York and California have not always been Democratic-friendly states, with the Democrats being in the minority of each state's delegation during several stretches over the past 160 years.

Overall, Democrats have won only 50.2 percent of general election New York U.S. House contests since 1850 (1,510 out of 3,009 races) and 52.9 percent in California (944 of 1,782).

The trend, however, has been sliding upwards over the past 50 years.

Democrats have represented a majority of New York's U.S. House delegation in every election cycle since 1964 and in California since 1958.

The percentage of New York seats in the Democratic column after the 2010 election (69.0 percent) decreased from its all-time high after 2008 (89.7 percent), but is still the 7th largest since 1850 (behind 2006, 79.3 percent; 1912, 72.1 percent; 1976, 71.8 percent, 1978, 69.2 percent, and 1974, 69.2 percent).

The 64.2 percent of Democratic seats in the California delegation is tied for the 7th highest since the state became a 7-member delegation in the 1890s, behind 1936 (75.0 percent), 1944 (69.6 percent), 1976 (67.4 percent), 1962 (65.8 percent), 1974 (65.1 percent), 1934 (65.0 percent) and tied with 2004, 2006, and 2008.

Percentage of New York and California Delegations of All Democrats in U.S. House by Election Cycle, 1850-2010

Year
NY
CA
Total
Democrats
%
2010
20
34
54
193**
28.1
2008
26
34
60
257
23.3
2006
23
34
57
233
24.5
2004
20
34
54
202
26.7
2002
19
33
52
205
25.4
2000
19
32
51
212
24.1
1998
18
28
46
211
21.8
1996
18
29
47
206
22.8
1994
17
27
44
204
21.6
1992
18
30
48
258
18.6
1990
21
26
47
267
17.6
1988
21
27
48
260
18.5
1986
20
27
47
258
18.2
1984
19
27
46
253
18.2
1982
20
28
48
269
17.8
1980
22
22
44
242
18.2
1978
27
26
53
277
19.1
1976
28
29
57
292
19.5
1974
27
28
55
291
18.9
1972
22
23
45
242
18.6
1970
24
21
45
255
17.6
1968
26
21
47
243
19.3
1966
26
21
47
247
19.0
1964
27
23
50
295
16.9
1962
20
25
45
259
17.4
1960
22
16
38
263
14.4
1958
19
16
35
283
12.4
1956
17
13
30
234
12.8
1954
17
11
28
232
12.1
1952
16
11
27
213
12.7
1950
23
10
33
235
14.0
1948
24
10
34
263
12.9
1946
17
9
26
188
13.8
1944
23
16
39
242
16.1
1942
23
12
35
222
15.8
1940
25
11
36
267
13.5
1938
25
12
37
262
14.1
1936
27
15
42
334
12.6
1934
29
13
42
322
13.0
1932
29
11
40
313
12.8
1930
23
1
24
216
11.1
1928
23
1
24
164
14.6
1926
25
1
26
194
13.4
1924
22
2
24
183
13.1
1922
23
2
25
207
12.1
1920
9
2
11
131
8.4
1918
19
4
23
192
12.0
1916
16
4
20
214
9.3
1914
18
3
21
230
9.1
1912
31
3
34
291
11.7
1910
21
1
22
230
9.6
1908
12
0
12
172
7.0
1906
12
0
12
167
7.2
1904
11
0
11
135
8.1
1902
16
3
19
176
10.8
1900
13
0
13
151
8.6
1898
18
1
19
161
11.8
1896
6
2
8
124
6.5
1894
5*
1
6
93
6.5
1892
20
3
23
218
10.6
1890
23
2
25
238
10.5
1888
16
2
18
152
11.8
1886
15
2
17
167
10.2
1884
17
1
18
182
9.9
1882
21
6
27
196
13.8
1880
12*
2
14
128
10.9
1878
8
1
9
141
6.4
1876
16
1
17
155
11.0
1874
16
3
19
182
10.4
1872
9
1
10
88
11.4
1870
16
0
16
104
15.4
1868
12*
2
14
67
20.9
1866
10
2
12
47
25.5
1864
10*
0
10
38
26.3
1862
17
0
17
72
23.6
1860
9
0
9
44
20.5
1858
3
2
5
83
6.0
1856
12
2
14
132
10.6
1854
5
2
7
83
8.4
1852
20
2
22
157
14.0
1850
16
2
18
127
14.2
Total
1,510
944
2,454
16,235
15.1
Data reflects totals based on November election day results, except (*) adjusts for contested elections in which a new winner was selected. ** Projected totals. Data compiled by Smart Politics.

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4 Comments


  • Aren't New York and California the only two states in the nation that are headed for bankruptcy? Is that some sort of coincidence or something?

  • Nearly 20% of *all* Congressional seats are from CA and NY. Comprising 28% of the Democratic caucus isn't that big a deal.

    More significant is that the people of CA and NY are represented by just 4 US Senators --but are home to more Americans than the *combined* populations of Utah, Alaska, Kentucky, Idaho, Oklahoma, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota, Maine, Nevada, and Kansas.

  • > Nearly 20% of *all* Congressional seats are from CA and NY.
    > Comprising 28% of the Democratic caucus isn't that big a
    > deal.

    That is pointed out in the report. But you're missing these key points (listed in the report):

    1) The number of delegates from each of the two states has varied greatly across the decades, but has held relatively flat cumulatively since 1962. Between 1962 and 2010 New York and California have accounted for between 18.2 percent and 19.1 percent of all U.S. House seats.

    2) However, there has been a 61.5 percent increase in the percentage of Californians and New Yorkers in the House Democratic caucus from the 1962 election (17.4 percent) to 2010 (28.1 percent).


  • THANK YOU for posting this! Very, very interesting!

    Steve
    Common Cents
    http://www.commoncts.blogspot.com

  • Leave a comment


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