There are two main political parties in the United States: the Democratic Party and the Republican Party. U.S. citizens typically lean to the left, or Democratic, or to the right, or Republican.
The modern-day Democratic Party platform tends to incorporate the views of centrists, liberals, progressives and left-wing and socialist movements. Democratic politics typically put a greater focus on social justice, social equality, regulating economic activity and ensuring access to healthcare. This is in contrast to more conservative or Republican politics, which aim for smaller deregulated government and emphasize the importance of free-market capitalism with little government involvement. Also in contrast to Republican or conservative politics, Democrats see religion’s influence as less important in American life and politics.
Democratic politics protect social programs, labor unions, workplace safety regulations, equal opportunity, racial equality, and disability rights. Democrats support abortion rights and the LGBTQ+ community and their rights. Additionally, Democrats tend to focus on the environment including regulating pollution and supporting clean energy initiatives. When it comes to the economy, a base social safety net provided by the welfare state and strong labor unions have historically been a part of the Democratic platform.
Democratic, or liberal, states tend to have higher taxes, more laws guaranteeing or supporting individual rights (including LGBTQ+) and equal opportunity, and have more ideologies that do not follow traditional morality, such as that articulated in the Bible.
To determine which states lean the most democratic, the Cook Partisan Voting Index can be used. The Cook Partisan Voting Index (PVI) is a measurement of how strongly a U.S. state or congressional district leans toward the Democratic or Republican Party compared to the nation as a whole. For example, if the national average is 51% Democratic, and the Democratic candidate of a state wins 62% of a two-party share, then that state voted 12 percentage points more Democratic than the country, for D+12.
10 Most Democratic States
With a PVI of D+18, Hawaii is the most democratic state in the United States. Hawaii joined the United States in 1959 and first participated in the presidential election in 1960. Hawaii has voted Democratic in every election except in 1972 and 1984. Hawaii native President Barack Obama won Hawaii in 2008 and 2012, earning over 70% of the vote in both elections.
Vermont is the second-most Democratic state in the U.S. with a PVI of D+15. Vermont joined the Union in 1971 and has participated in every presidential election since 1792. Vermont was primarily Republican from 1854, when the party was founded, through 1988 except for the 1964 election. Vermont has been blue (Democratic) since 1992. Vermont is home to the 2020 presidential candidate Senator Bernie Sanders.
California is the third-most Democratic state in the U.S. and by far the largest. California has 55 electoral votes, the most of any state and more than 10% of all available electoral votes. California’s Partisan Voting Index is D+12. California was not always Democratic, in fact, and voted Republican in every election from 1952 to 1988 except for 1964. The state has consistently been Democratic since 1992 and is projected to vote Democratic in the upcoming 2020 presidential election.
With a PVI of D+12, Maryland is tied with California as the third-most Democratic state in the U.S. Being one of the original 13 colonies, Maryland entered the Union in 1788 and has participated in all 58 presidential elections. Maryland has voted Democratic in every presidential election since 1992, including in the most recent 2016 election where Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton beat Republican Donald Trump 60% to 34%. Maryland is expected to vote Democratic in the upcoming 2020 presidential election.
Massachusetts is also tied with California and Maryland for the number three spot in the most Democratic states with a PVI of D+12. Like Maryland, Massachusetts was one of the 13 colonies and joined the Union in 1788. Massachusetts has participated in every presidential election since then and has voted Democratic every election since 1928 except for four. In the most recent 2016 presidential election, Hillary Clinton easily beat Donald Trump 60% to 33%.
New York is tied with California, Maryland, and Massachusetts as the third-most Democratic state in the U.S. with a PVI of D+12. New York has the third-highest number of electoral votes of 29, behind California (55) and Texas (38). New York has voted Democratic since 1988. New York, especially New York City, is known as one of the most progressive states in the nation, with very strict gun laws, a push towards legalizing recreational marijuana, and NYC being one of the nation’s most LGBTQ-friendly cities.
With a PVI of D+10, Rhode Island is the seventh-most Democratic state in the United States. Rhode Island was the last of the 13 colonies to enter the Union in 1790. Rhode Island has also voted reliably Democratic in every election since 1928 except for four. Rhode Island is expected to vote Democratic again in the 2020 presidential election.
Illinois is tied as the eighth-most Democratic state in the U.S. with a PVI of D+7. After becoming a state in 1818, Illinois voted mostly Republican up until the 1920s, and then voted primarily Democratic through the Great Depression and World War II. Illinois began voting Republican again until 1992 and has voted Democratic since in every election since then. Illinois is the largest electoral state in the Midwest with 20 electoral votes and is expected to vote Democratic again in the 2020 election.
New Jersey also has a PVI of D+7, tying it with Illinois as the eighth-most Democratic state in the nation. New Jersey is also one of the original 13 colonies and joined the Union in 1787. New Jersey has participated in all 58 presidential elections, going through periods of consistent Republican voting and consistent Democratic voting. Since 1992, New Jersey has voted consistently Democratic and is projected to vote Democratic in the upcoming 2020 election.
Washington’s PVI of D+7 ties it with both New Jersey and Illinois has the seventh-most Democratic state. Washington has voted in every election since joining the Union in 1889, with periods of voting Republican and periods of voting Democratic, including during the Great Depression and World War II. Since 1988, Washington has voted Democratic in every presidential election and is expected to vote Democratic in the upcoming 2020 election.
The table below has each state’s Cook Partisan Voting Index.