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Greatest Realignments Since 1960 Ranked


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Here's my refined ranking of Realigning events since 1960. Here's what is scored. Each of the below is weighted differently in the score:

  • Did the event cause a state to move decisively from leaning support to solid support for one party for major offices in the state?
  • Did the event cause a state to move decisively from supporting one party in the state to supporting another party in the state for major offices in the state?
  • Did the event lead to a wave of support for the minority party in a state, only for it to revert back soon after (i.e. a fluke realignment)? This is useful for House, Senate, Governorship control, but not for realigning in general. However, it can foreshadow a true realignment.
  • Did the event cause the one party to be completely wiped out of all major offices in a state?
  • Did the event cause the state to regularly (allowing for a fluke election or two) vote for the other party in the next 20+ years of elections?

The weakness in my ranking is that it is counting states, whereas counting EVs might be more important. For instance, winning points for the above for WY shouldn't be the same as applying points for the above for CA. At some point, I might recalibrate this for EVs. 

Lastly, 1988 and 2000 were not really important event elections as these I list above, but Dukakis and Bush II saw a few states realign in presidential elections. In truth, the former is just a delayed reaction to the Reagan Rev (They only support the Rev so long as the president was Reagan it seems), and the latter is really a delayed reaction to the Gingrich Rev (we're okay with a Dem president so long as he's Southern). However, I'm not apply these realignments to any of the below.

Oh, one more thing. Anything on here from the 21st century could change with the results from 2020, 2022, 2024 and so on, since they're recent and some of their results are quasi-speculative. Additionally, the 1964 event might be more consequential once I start imputing data from before 1960, although I doubt it changes much if it does.

Ranking of Most Consequential Realignments

  1. Gingrich Revolution (1994-1998): 70 pts for GOP
    1. Note: Gingrich is probably more important than Reagan for the GOP, even though Gingrich might not have been possible without Reagan, who might not have been possible without Goldwater. If Goldwater is John the Baptist and Reagan is Jesus, then Gingrich is St. Paul--the one who made the philosophy really survive. Trump would be like a false prophet sect of the philosophy. Gingrich saves the GOP from the powerful New Democrat reaction to Reagan.
  2. New Democrat Reaction (1990-1992): 53 pts for Dems
    1. Never heard of this? It's basically the Democrat alternative to the Reagan Revolution. Democrats could no longer be "New Deal Democrats" and get elected. This is a reaction movement to Reagan. It aimed to appeal to the voters not benefitting from Reaganomics and Reagan social policy, while at the same time being less enthusiastic about New Deal type legislation. There's only one real reason this is even up on this list: 12 states realigned in presidential elections to the Democrats, including the EV cash cow California! For this reason, the reaction to Reagan was actually more successful than Reagan himself. How much of the credit goes to Clinton, I wonder? If I include 1988 in this, then this realignment might surpass the Gingrich Revolution, considering Dukakis was both a New Democrat and realigned states to Dems, despite losing in a landslide. 
  3. Obama Surge or Reaction to Bush Wars/Economy (2006-2008): 43 pts for Dems
    1. This one sees more state major officers realigning than any for Democrats in the 1960-present range. However, it also has many flukes and only 3 president election realignment states -- assuming they hold. The question is, who gets more credit for this? Obama's candidacy or Bush's failures?
  4. Reagan Revolution (1980-1984): 40 pts for GOP
    1. This realignment was strongest in regards to presidential elections. Five states started consistently voting GOP in presidential elections. The Revolution was a little more underwhelming when it came to Governor, US Senate, and US House elections. For instance, most of the South was still Solid D until Gingrich. 
  5. Obamacare Reaction (2010-2014): 23 pts for GOP
    1. I was surprised to find that this is weaker than the Obama Surge, but there's reasons for this. This election, similar to the Watergate event, saw a lot of fluke gains for the GOP. Additionally, while Obamacare resulted in Dems getting wiped out in 7 states, it also resulted in the GOP getting wiped out in 5 states. Obamacare, for whatever it is worth, has resulted in a rare event in which all the positives aren't one-sided. This is possibly because of hyper-partisanship. Whatever even occurs after Reaction to Trump, might alter this event's score. 
  6. Watergate Reaction (1974-1976): 20 pts for Dems
    1. This one is lifted almost exclusively by fluke realignments--11 fluke realignments which only reverted back soon after. 
  7. Reaction to LBJ's social and military policies (1966-1968): 17 pts for GOP
    1. While not to the same degree as Watergate, this is lifted mostly by flukes too. Despite the protests and Southern anger, the reaction didn't change voting patterns much. 
  8. Reaction to Goldwater/Civil Rights Act of 1964 (1964): 14 pts for Dems
    1. This is the only event that is for a single year. It's mainly because it's bound by both a single act and a non-traditional GOP nominee that was buffeted by this single act. I would have included this as part of the 1966-1968 event except  Goldwater is on the ballot for 1964 only and he altered the nation's voting pattern almost single-handedly. This even is similar to the Obamacare Reaction in that the positives are not one-sided.  Both parties had fluke gains. Only Dems saw GOP wiped outs. Only Dems saw state realignments. However, only the GOP saw a presidential election realignment (SC). 
  9. War on Terror (2002-2004): 12 pts for GOP
    1. I'm the least satisfied with this event. If I included 2000, the GOP score would be much higher. However, the stuff that happened in 2000 just seems more like a delay of the Gingrich Rev. Anyway, this event sees 4 flukes and 3 Dem wipe outs, 1 realignment but nothing else.
  10. Trump Reaction (2018-?): 7 pts for Dems
    1. This score is likely to change. Similar to the Obamacare Reaction, both parties get some positives, which lowers the score for Dems. GOP sees 6 states show Dems wiped out, while Dems see 5 states with GOP wiped out. Aside from this, the rest of the positives are for Dems, who likely will see 2 states realign (although not in presidential elections). The 2020 election will likely sustain some or all of this and could possibly add some new things.
  11. Silent Majority (1970-1972): 5 pts for GOP
    1. Nixon gave his Silent Majority speech in 1969. This helped in him winning a massive landslide, but aside from that, it had little permanence. It shows 6 fluke realignments for GOP and 1 fluke for Dems. There were zero realignments for presidential elections or for major state offices in any state. Watergate likely erased any chance for this event to leave a lasting impact. Reagan had to save the GOP from Nixon's fall. 

Conclusion: The post-1960 US saw its greatest party realignments between 1988-2000. Major office holders and party votes flipped widely, so much so that 1987 and 2001 would seem a century apart if one was just looking at numbers and had no knowledge of time. 

At some point, I'll go further back to see when the next major realignment period is that is comparable to these 12 years. Who knows when we will see something like this again in the future. 

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Here's an example of Alabama going through the major realignment of the 1990s (Pres, Gov, 2 US Sens, and the rest are US Reps):

1988 1990 1992 1994 1996 1998 2000
Bush Bush Bush Bush Dole Dole Bush
Hunt Hunt Hunt James James Siegelman Siegelman
Shelby Shelby Shelby Shelby Shelby Shelby Shelby
Heflin Heflin Heflin Heflin Sessions Sessions Sessions
Callahan Callahan Callahan Callahan Callahan Callahan Callahan
Dickinson Dickinson Everett Everett Everett Everett Everett
Nichols Browder Browder Browder Riley Riley Riley
Bevill Bevill Bevill Bevill Aderholt Aderholt Aderholt
Flippo Cramer Cramer Cramer Cramer Cramer Cramer
Erdreich Erdreich Bachus Bachus Bachus Bachus Bachus
Harris Harris Hilliard Hilliard Hilliard Hilliard Hilliard
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This is an excellent and interesting write up! Thanks for the research it was a great read (Though I may have not responded to any posts) I have enjoyed reading all of them :D

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3 hours ago, vcczar said:

@Conservative Elector 2 thanks for being the first, and possibly only, person to like this.

I read through it earlier today on mobile but forgot to like it. I usually like everything that I read to acknowledge it.

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