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A Closer Look at 2016 Local, State, and Federal Elections

August 31, 2017    
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The 2016 General Election was unique in many ways. The Democrats nominated a candidate with a history of winning elections and who was favored in almost every poll leading-up to election day. Yet it was the Republican candidate, Eric Holcomb, who prevailed rather convincingly over former Indiana Speaker John Gregg to become Indiana’s 51st and current Governor.

While the race for the White House was especially divisive and consumes headlines to this day, approximately 99% of political candidates ran at the state or local level.

This is the first in a series of articles from PoliticalBank to look objectively at the 2016 election cycle. Here, we take a closer look at who ran and who won.

Who Ran in 2016?

Approximately 400 office types appeared on ballots across the country. Even the proverbial “Dog Catcher” was elected in the Town of Egg Harbor, Wisconsin.

43.7% of candidates filed as Nonpartisan, 20.6% filed as Democratic, and 31.5% filed as Republican. The remaining 4.8% represented 121 “minority” parties or “designations” including the “NSA Did 9/11 Party,” “Representing the 99% Party,” “Turtle Party,” and “Pirate Party.”

Chart 1 below offers a snapshot of the offices sought by 95,646 candidates across the country. For simplicity, we consolidated office types into seven general categories. Examples of specific offices that fall into each category are captured in the “Notes” section.

Chart 1: "Who Ran for What Office?"

 NONPARTISANDEMOCRATREPUBLICANTOTAL
Federal Office897408121,641
Judge2,5791,7451,8866,210
Local Executive5,7595,64112,08523,485
Local Legislator24,5735,1739,03638,782
Local School Administration12,44747252813,447
State Legislator1505,5875,78711,524
State Official310125122557
TOTAL45,90719,48330,25695,646
[Offices sought by Nonpartisan, Democratic, and Republican candidates in 2016.]

 

Chart 2 below compares the candidates who filed as either Democratic or Republican by region in the United States.

Chart 2: "Democrats vs. Republicans: Who Ran in 2016?"

 Candidates who filed as either a Republican or DemocratRepublican CandidatesDemocrat CandidatesWeighted Difference: GOP vs. DEM
Midwest51.27%34.82%16.45%35.83% (GOP)
Northeast73.98%36.15%37.83%2.27% (DEM)
South48.02%27.24%20.78%13.46% (GOP)
West33.77%18.67%15.10%10.57% (GOP)
[Candidates who filed as either Democratic or Republican by region.]

 

Chart 3 below compares Democratic vs. Republican “winners” in the November general election. As seen, party preference among voters was definitive; increasing relative to participation by an average of 93.5% per region.

Chart 3: "Democrats vs. Republicans: Who Won on November 8, 2016?"

 Winners who were either Democrat or RepublicanDemocrat WinnersRepublican WinnersWeighted Difference: GOP vs. DEM
Midwest49.79%12.33%37.46%50.48% (GOP)
Northeast76.86%40.62%36.24%5.69% (DEM)
South49.98%19.10%30.88%23.58% (GOP)
West32.66%12.75%19.91%21.92% (GOP)
[Democratic and Republican "Winners" by Region.]

 

Minnesota was the only Midwestern state in which more Democratic than Republican candidates filed (232 vs. 222, respectively). However, 94% of Minnesotans filed as Nonpartisan. Illinois was the only state that chose Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump (55% to 38%), despite electing more Republicans than Democrats statewide by a margin 39% to 25%. No Midwestern state elected more Democrats than Republicans.

The closest state in the 2016 Presidential election was Michigan, where Trump defeated Clinton by a mere three-tenths of a percentage. However, on a statewide basis, Republicans won by a margin of 32% to 20%.

Maine is the only state in the country where more Republicans than Democrats appeared on the ballot but more Democrats than Republicans prevailed. Somewhat surprisingly, four out of ten states in the Northeast elected more Republicans than Democrats statewide.

A lot of Democratic candidates ran for office in the South, but Republicans were far more successful. In North Carolina, for example, Democratic candidates outnumbered Republicans 41% to 39%. However, more Republicans won their elections by a margin of 43% to 35%.

Out West, California and New Mexico were the only two states with more Democratic candidates and winners. However, just 18% of all candidates in those two states filed as either Democratic or Republican with the majority running in nonpartisan contests.

Suffice it to say, Republicans performed well in 2016 at the local, state, and federal levels. Determining what factors were at play in 2016 and whether Republicans are positioned to build on their successes going-forward will be the subject of future articles from PoliticalBank.

This article was authored by PoliticalBank’s data research team. Please contact data@politicalbank.com if you are interested in writing for PoliticalBank or would like access to its dataset. PoliticalBank’s mission is to serve as a nonpartisan, one-stop-shop for candidates (and potential candidates) to launch an effective, winning campaign. Learn more at PoliticalBank.com.

NOTES

The following are only a few examples of the 400+ offices within each “Office Type” category listed in Chart 1:

Federal Office: U.S. Senator, U.S. Representative, President, Vice President

Judge: Chief Magistrate, County Judge, Family Court Judge, Magistrate, Municipal Judge 

Local Executive: County Commissioner Chairman, County Highway Superintendent, Director of Human Resources, Director of Public Welfare, Mayor, Moderator, and Zoning Inspector

Local Legislator: Alderman, Boards, City Councilor, County Commissioner, County Councilor, Town Council, Trustee, Village Board 

Local School Administration: School Board, School Committee, Superintendent, Trustee (and countless variations of each) 

State Legislator: House Delegate, State Assembly, State Representative, State Senator

State Official: Attorney General, Board of Governors, Commissioner of Public Lands, Governor, Secretary of State, State Auditor, State Treasurer