Reliably Republican strongholds are much more widespread than those on the Democratic side

Last week Smart Politics highlighted states with the largest uninterrupted Democratic winning streaks in statewide elections.

Today, the lens turns on the nation’s other major political party – where the GOP has made far greater and deeper inroads in states across the country by this measure.

When it comes to electoral winning streaks, the list starts and ends with a state that has thus far been the fool’s gold of the Democratic Party for the better part of a decade – Texas.

Texas Republican nominees have recorded 166 consecutive statewide victories dating back to the 1996 cycle.

The GOP has run the table in contests for the state Supreme Court (50 contests), Criminal Court of Appeals (42), Railroad Commissioner (16), U.S. Senator (nine), President (seven), Governor (seven), Lieutenant Governor (seven), Attorney General (seven), Comptroller (seven), Public Lands Commissioner (seven), and Agriculture Commissioner (seven).

While the Democratic Party started to shed control in Texas during the 1994 Republican Revolution, their nominees still managed to win races that cycle for Lieutenant Governor, Attorney General, Comptroller, Treasurer, Public Lands Commissioner, Supreme Court Justice, and Criminal Court of Appeals Judge.

But none ever since.

Democrats have come within single digits of ending this losing streak in 38 of these 166 elections (22.9 percent) but by less than five points in just seven (4.2 percent).

However, perhaps the reason Democrats have had some hope in making inroads is that five of these seven close calls came during the 2018 cycle: narrowly losing races for U.S. Senator, Lieutenant Governor, Attorney General, Comptroller, and Agriculture Commissioner.

Following Texas is neighboring Oklahoma, where the Democratic Party fell off a cliff following the 2006 cycle – losing each of the next 54 races.

In 2006, Democrats nearly recorded a clean sweep of the state, winning eight of the nine statewide offices on the ballot (Governor, Lieutenant Governor, Auditor, Attorney General, Treasurer, Superintendent of Public Instruction, Labor Commissioner, and Insurance Commissioner).

The party only failed to knock a three-term GOP Corporation Commissioner out of office.

Since 2008, Oklahoma Democrats have lost by double-digits in 52 of the subsequent 54 statewide elections.

In addition to Texas and Oklahoma, Republicans have also equaled or exceeded the current largest Democratic streak (California, 38 straight elections) in six additional states: Idaho (47 in a row since 2004), South Dakota (47 since 2010), Utah (42, since 1998), Alabama (41 since 2018), South Carolina (39 since 2008), and Wyoming (38 since 2008).

Note: While North Dakota Republicans technically have a winning streak of 15 in a row since 2020 the party functionally has a streak of 38 in a row since 2014. In 2018, seven-term GOP Secretary of State Al Jaeger lost his party’s endorsement to software technology executive Will Gardner. After Gardner’s withdrawal from the race under a cloud of scandal, Jaeger ran as an independent and won reelection with a plurality of the vote.

The GOP has enjoyed at least a dozen consecutive wins in five additional states: Nebraska (29), Arkansas (28), Mississippi (21), Indiana (18), and Tennessee (13).

While Democrats are not expected to win statewide races in any of these aforementioned states in November, they may do so in a few of the states with more modest Republican streaks.

Republicans have won 10 or fewer consecutive elections in seven states: Louisiana (10), Ohio (10), Missouri (eight), Montana (eight), West Virginia (eight), North Carolina (seven), and Virginia (three).

Democrats expect to win Virginia’s presidential and U.S. Senate (Tim Kaine) contests and have at least even odds to hold the U.S. Senate seats in Montana (Jon Tester) and Ohio (Sherrod Brown) – presuming a fair number of voters in those states split their tickets.

Democrats also will likely win at least a few of the full slate of 10 statewide offices on the ballot in North Carolina with Attorney General Josh Stein slightly favored to hold the governorship against Lieutenant Governor Mark Robinson.

Meanwhile, North Carolina Democratic Secretary of State Elaine Marshall is seeking reelection to an eighth term – an office Republicans have not won since Reconstruction. Likewise, the party hopes to hold the office of Auditor (appointed incumbent Jessica Holmes) and Stein’s open seat for Attorney General – offices Republicans have won just once each since Reconstruction.

Republican streaks have been denied by single losses in several states such as Alaska (Democratic U.S. Representative Mary Sattler Peltola), Florida (Independent Supreme Court Justice Jorge Labarga), Iowa (Democratic Auditor Rob Sand), Kansas (Democratic Governor Laura Kelly), and Kentucky (Democratic Governor Andy Beshear).

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  1. Geoff Gamble on April 11, 2024 at 2:27 pm

    – Democrat Martha Whitehead also won in 1994 – for TREASURER of TX, which arguably had been used as a stepping stone for far nationally better-known pols Kay Bailey Hutchison and Ann Richards (it was abolished shortly thereafter – at the behest of Whitehead herself).

    – What post or posts had UT Republicans failed to win at any time during the 1990s?

  2. Dr. Eric Ostermeier on April 11, 2024 at 3:06 pm

    Utah Democrat Jan Graham was reelected as state Attorney General in 1996 – the last of three consecutive wins to that office for the party, and the last statewide victory to date. Good catch on the long-defunct Texas office of the Treasurer – added to the 1994 list above.

    • Connor Cobb on April 13, 2024 at 9:56 am

      Other than candidates for Lieutenant Governor running on a ticket with a male candidate, Jan Graham is the only woman ever elected to statewide office in the state of Utah.

  3. Connor Cobb on April 12, 2024 at 12:29 pm

    WV and MO are guaranteed to move to double digit streaks after Nov. IN and ND meanwhile are gonna move to 20+ streaks.
    A Mark Robinson victory would give the gop every governorship in the former confederacy for the 1st time ever if I’m not mistaken. NC might be the only governorship to change party hands this year which would not shock me. With the exception of 2016 when R’s flipped MO, NH and VT (and arguably WV with Jim Justice switching parties 1 year later) while D’s flipped NC, every cycle coinciding with the presidential since 1996 has seen either only 1 state flip or the balance be unchanged. In 1996, WV went red whilst NH went blue leaving it unchanged. In 2000 only WV flipped blue. In 2004, MO and IN flipped red whilst MT and NH flipped blue leaving it unchanged. In 2008, only MO flipped blue. In 2012, only NC flipped red. IN 2020, only MT flipped red.

    WV flipping red in the senate this year means that if no other state changes, only 6 states: ME, VT, OH, WI and MT would have split senate delegations. I add VT only because you categorize them separate from D’s. I personally count them with which ever party they caucus with. The AZ case would be Ruben Gallego replacing Kyrsten Sinema. Let’s say Bernie Sanders retires (which I doubt), MT, WI and OH flip, ME would be the last split state.

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