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Party Strength in the United States: 1872-1996 (ICPSR 6895)

Principal Investigator(s): David, Paul T., University of Virginia; Claggett, William, University of Florida


This data collection contains a set of index numbers that can be used as measures of party strength at the polls and changes in party strength since 1872, the year of the second presidential election after the end of the Civil War. The file consists of statewide percentages of the actual vote won by Democratic, Republican, and other candidates/parties for the offices of president, governor, United States House of Representatives, and, beginning in 1914, the two Senate seats allocated to each state. The percentages for the Senate seats are designated according to the Senate class (I, II, or III) to which the particular race refers. Data are also presented for the presidential, gubernatorial, and senatorial vote percentages in biennial form, as achieved by averaging the percentages from the previous and following election. Sets of composite percentages are included as well: one set of composite numbers combines the data for all four offices, a second set combines the data for the three offices other than president, and a third set combines the data for senators and representatives in Congress. Biennial office data and composite data are also included for aggregate groupings of states. Regional data are provided for states grouped as Northeast, Middle West, South, and West. In addition, states are grouped based on party competitiveness between 1896 and 1930 as either predominantly Republican, predominantly Democratic, or competitive. Biennial office data and composite indices are also included for the nation as a whole.

Access Notes

  • Data in this collection are available only to users at ICPSR member institutions. Please log in so we can determine if you are with a member institution and have access to these data files.


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Study Description


David, Paul T., and William Claggett. PARTY STRENGTH IN THE UNITED STATES: 1872-1996. Compiled by Paul T. David, University of Virginia, and William Claggett, Florida State University. ICPSR06895-v1. Ann Arbor, MI: Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research [producer], 1998. Ann Arbor, MI: Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research [distributor], 2008-09-10. https://doi.org/10.3886/ICPSR06895.v1

Persistent URL: https://doi.org/10.3886/ICPSR06895.v1

Export Citation:

  • RIS (generic format for RefWorks, EndNote, etc.)
  • EndNote XML (EndNote X4.0.1 or higher)


This study was funded by:

  • Paul T. David Foundation

Scope of Study

Subject Terms:    candidates, congressional elections, congressional elections (US House), congressional elections (US Senate), Democratic Party (USA), election returns, elections, gubernatorial elections, historical data, political attitudes, political behavior, political parties, presidential elections, Republican Party (USA), states (USA), United States House of Representatives, United States Senate

Geographic Coverage:    United States

Time Period:   

  • 1872--1996

Date of Collection:   

  • 1998

Universe:    Presidential, gubernatorial, and congressional election returns in the United States from 1872-1996.

Data Type(s):    aggregate data

Data Collection Notes:

(1) The data collection was processed according to standard ICPSR processing procedures. The data for elections prior to 1976 are from David's book and journal articles and was scanned into machine-readable format. The data was checked for illegal code values which, when found, were corrected by referring back to the original source materials. (2) No data are presented in this volume for units smaller than a state. In principle, however, the techniques used here for index number construction can be applied to any territorial unit for which the data can be accumulated. The Historical Archives of the ICPSR is currently able to supply processed, machine-readable election data on the four offices studied for every county in the United States.


Data Source:

The information and data presented in this study represent the combined efforts of Paul T. David, William Claggett, and the Inter-University Consortium for Political and Social Research (ICPSR). This codebook consists of edited excerpts from Paul T. David's book "Party Strength in the United States: 1872-1970" (1972), as well as three journal articles written by Paul T. David (1972, 1974, 1976). Information regarding election data from 1976 to 1994 was obtained from unpublished documents supplied by William Claggett. Data for 1996 was obtained and added by the Inter-University Consortium for Political and Social Research, and was funded by a grant from the Paul T. David Endowment, as funded by Mrs. Paul T. David. Except where noted, the methodology used by David was followed by both William Claggett and ICPSR.


Original ICPSR Release:   2008-09-10

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