Democrats under Siege in the Sunbelt Megastates: California, Florida, and Texas

By Albert J. Nelson | Go to book overview

allowing this statistic to stand as important indicator of power. This obscures a number of difficult questions about policy choices and the real power to determine these choices. First, Republican women are likely to be more conservative than Democrats ( Nelson, 1991). Second, if a group is not in the majority party, it will not be likely to play a large role in shaping the legislative agenda.

From statistics on incumbency in the tables of this chapter, it is clear that a bad year for incumbents means a "diminutive" winning percentage of about 80. Clearly, incumbents do far better than non-incumbents in terms of winning, running in safe districts, and capturing a high mean percentage of district votes. However, some differences between parties exist; for example, Republican male incumbents have a higher winning percentage than Democratic male incumbents, and their mean percentage of the vote has been far greater in the 1992 and 1994 elections. We are not only seeing a significant shift to the Republican Party among Floridians, but the effects of reapportionment. Reapportionment following the decennial census sought to increase minority districts, and in doing so, increased the number of districts with greater percentages of white voters. Unlike in California and Texas, it also protected a politically active Cuban-American community that is largely Republican.

Finally, when incumbents were not running, Republicans were making continuous gains. In 1986, Democrats won seventeen of thirty districts. In 1988, Republicans won eleven of nineteen seats, and Democrats swept back with Clinton's triumph in 1992 to win twenty-two of forty-three seats. This success was associated with the rise of women in the Democratic Party. In 1994, voters were disgruntled with the pace of change and Clinton's presidential performance gave Republicans thirteen of twenty-three open seats. Indeed, male Democrats fell from being the largest of our four party and gender groups in 1986 to second place, with Republican men becoming the dominant group in the General Assembly. Of course, being the largest group but lacking control of the agenda as the majority party means much less power for GOP men than for the Democratic male majority in 1986.


NOTES
1.
These demographic shifts, in my opinion, enhanced party competition and were instrumental in producing one of the more innovative legislative systems in the American states.

-91-

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Democrats under Siege in the Sunbelt Megastates: California, Florida, and Texas
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Tables ix
  • Chapter 1- Introduction 1
  • Notes 11
  • Chapter 2- California Elections 13
  • Notes 40
  • Chapter 3- Texas Elections 41
  • Note 67
  • Chapter 4- Florida Elections 69
  • Notes 91
  • Chapter 5- Conclusions and Caveats 93
  • Notes 110
  • Bibliography 111
  • Index 117
  • About the Author 121
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