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Laboratories of Democracy: Alternate State Legislatures

Ares96

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Thought I'd make a separate thread for these, to keep people (myself, not least) from having to trawl through my general map thread to find them.

You're not getting a proper frontispiece or introduction though, so try to make do with a map of my progress mapping the several states up to now:

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Note that this is as of about 2010 - there may or may not be changes over the 2010s in one or more states.

Yes, it's going to be fun times ahead...
 
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Ares96

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Texas
(2010 legislative election, originally posted October 2015)

It's been ten years since the death of Tom Landry. Ten years since the Texan people had their pater patriae taken from them by the grip of leukemia. The football coach turned politician had ruled the state for well over a decade, supported by his own Lone Star Party as well as the Democrats and Republicans throughout his tenure. Humble, deeply religious, and always firm but fair in his leadership style, Landry personified the things Texas was and the things it wanted to be, and this made him a hugely popular political leader as well as a spiritual father to the Texan people. When he died, the state ground to a halt and he received eulogies from everyone up to the President of the United States, but his family insisted on a simple funeral to be held with only a few family and friends in his local Methodist parish in Highland Park.

The ten years that have passed have been among the best the state has ever seen. The rising price of oil has benefitted Texas hugely, as the energy sector grows ever bigger and more profitable, and the state's good climate and many high-quality colleges and universities have meant an influx of skilled individuals from across the nation, who have made a place for themselves in the state's rising high-tech and service industries. Although two thirds of Texans now live in one of its three major metropolitan areas (Houston, Dallas-Fort Worth, Austin-San Antonio), its uniqueness has not faded, and the ideal of the independent frontiersman, dependent neither on the government nor private money but free to pursue his own goals in life, has remained at the core of the Texan identity. This makes Texas one of the more conservative states in the union, and of its five major parties, only one can be said to be openly left-wing.
- The Lone Star Party, which was founded in 1987 as a vehicle for Tom Landry's gubernatorial run, is Texas' dominant political force. Its platform is vague and broad, and its campaigns frequently based on an appeal to "Texan values" (and formerly Landry's personal popularity) rather than anything overtly political. When in power, it tends to support the "business style" of government, which makes them a fiscally conservative party in practice if not in word, and they tend to emphasize religious values just as Landry did. While popular across the state, Lone Star draws its strongest support from the rural west as well as the Dallas-Fort Worth area.
- The Republicans are the biggest nationwide party in Texas, and while it does not use its slogan "The Party of Middle America" in the state, it still embodies much the same ideological principles - it's squarely in the centre on social policy, while generally taking conservative pro-business positions on economics. This makes it naturally close to Lone Star, and while the "grand coalition" of the Landry years is no longer a reality, the GOP often backs the same budget as Lone Star, and it's usually the winning one. It draws its votes from the suburban middle class, and is mainly popular in the Dallas and Houston metro areas.
- The Democrats were once Texas' dominant party, with governors like Sam Rayburn and John Connally setting out the party's "compassionate conservative" ideology combining religious morals and values with state intervention to help the less fortunate. These days the party is mainly popular in East Texas, and has toned down its statist aspect in keeping with the small-government consensus that dominates the state.
- The Labor Party is Texas' main opposition force, in both the procedural and philosophical senses of the word. The party, which is mainly supported by ethnic minorities (and particularly so Houston's African-American community, which votes Labor almost monolithically), argues for increased taxes on the oil industry to fund a generous welfare state, and chides the Democrats for going back on their previous pro-welfare stance.
- The Partido Popular Unido (United People's Party) is a relatively new force in the state - it was formed when the Labor's strong Latino contingent split off from the party in disgust at its tacit backing of Governor James' anti-immigration measures. Unlike Labor, it does not claim or try to provide representation outside its ethnic group, and as such sticks to its core areas along the Rio Grande.
- The Greens are a bit of an odd man out in Texan politics - its socially liberal and economically centrist policies make it at home with neither the Big Three nor Labor. The only reason it's represented at all in Texas is because of its support from college students, which (along with Austin being Austin) meant it pulled off a narrow plurality in Travis County.
- Last but not least, the Liberty Party might have been extremely popular in Texas, in a world where Tom Landry and Lone Star never existed. However, as things stand the party hasn't really got a niche in the state's politics, and it remains a minor force.

The 150 members of Texas' House of Representatives are elected every two years in twelve multi-member districts - one for each of the four major cities (Houston, Dallas, San Antonio, Austin), and eight covering the remainder of the state. They're joined by the Senate, which is elected from the same districts (except that West Texas and the Trans-Pecos are merged, and Dallas/Fort Worth Suburban and Houston are split into two districts each), with each district electing three senators to staggered six-year terms.

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Ares96

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Washington
(2012 legislative election, originally posted October 2015)

Washington is the most northwesterly state in the contiguous US, and its western half forms the Northwest's biggest population concentration as part of the Cascadia region (which also includes the Willamette valley in Oregon as well as the Fraser valley across the border in Canada). Originally dominated by farming and logging, Washington's economy has seen a radical transformation in the later half of the 20th century, with the high-tech and military hardware industries being of particular note. The population of the state has snowballed as a result, with a large Asian-American community taking root in the state, in addition to internal migrants from California and the East.

Washington is famed for its political liberalism, whether the hawkish big-state social liberalism favored by longtime Governor Henry M. Gresseth (a major figure on the Labor right in his time) or the progressive-green ethos that dominates the Greater Seattle area today. This has resulted in Labor and the Republicans being the dominant parties in the state, though Labor has been on the decline of late, with the Greens reaping the benefits, their combination of progressive welfare-statism with radical social liberalism making them extremely popular with the rising urban middle class. East of the Cascades, the picture is a different one - as with neighboring Idaho and Eastern Oregon, this is a very deeply conservative region, and outside Spokane, Labor has very little presence. In the old days this would've been safe Republican ground, but the Liberty Party has provided an opposition to the Republicans, going further toward completely puritanical small-state social conservatism while decrying the Republicans' business connections as making them "out of touch with the real America". These four parties dominate the state's political landscape - the Democrats are virtually nonexistent here in the "Unchurched Belt" - and while other parties exist, the smallness of the legislative districts (one per county, unless the county is too small to elect even a single member) means that they're generally shut out of the state legislature. However, in 2012 the broad-left coalition Alternative Left, spearheaded by Indian-American economics professor and former software engineer Kshama Sawant, managed to win two seats in King County, making them one of few left-of-Labor political groups to have representation on state level anywhere in the US. This still failed to outweigh the Labor decline, and when the dust settled, the Republicans and Liberty controlled 54 out of 100 seats in Washington's unicameral state legislature.

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Ares96

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Massachusetts
(2014 legislative elections, originally posted November 2015)

Surely there is no state richer in its Revolutionary War heritage than Massachusetts. The Boston Massacre, the Boston Tea Party, Paul Revere's fabled Midnight Ride, the Battles of Lexington, Concord and Bunker Hill, all took place in the eastern part of the state, and Shays' Rebellion in the west of the state had a significant effect on the young nation's attitude to government. Though changed significantly by industrialisation and immigration, the state has retained a strong sense of local pride and civic duty, and this shapes its political life to this day.

Massachusetts has been dominated by the Republican Party for as long as such a party has existed. Through a broad coalition of small business owners, suburban economic liberals and rural conservatives, the GOP has had a stranglehold on the state's political life, frequently achieving majorities in both houses of the state legislature and perpetually controlling the Senate (which elects by plurality). The Labor Party, dominated by the unions and ethnic communities of Boston and the surrounding area, are traditionally the main opposition, but thanks to the Senate's strong Republican lean, have never entered government. There are two roughly equal parties below them: the Greens, whose main achievement is controlling the Cambridge city council, and the Liberals, who started out as a moderate Republican splinter in the 1950s, and have since gradually evolved into a centrist, good-government oriented social-liberal party.

The Great and General Court, the Massachusetts state legislature, consists of two houses: the House of Representatives, which has 160 members and is elected by proportional representation from the state's traditional counties (Middlesex is split into its two official divisions, Franklin and Hampshire form a single electoral district, and Dukes and Nantucket elect a single member by plurality), and the Senate, which has 40 members and is elected by plurality in single-member districts, with at least one district for each county (aside from Dukes and Nantucket, which elect a single senator together). This means that western Massachusetts and Cape Cod, both strongly Republican regions, are overrepresented in the Senate.

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Ares96

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New Hampshire
(2014 legislative election, originally posted January 2016)

All six of the New England states are known politically for their Republican lean, short election terms and strong rural overrepresentation. Even so, New Hampshire is unusual in how strongly it exhibits all three factors. This state has been utterly dominated by the GOP since the latter's foundation, and nor has that dominance shown signs of waning - indeed, the Republicans are getting stronger thanks to the increasingly divided opposition. The state's politics, for this reason, have largely revolved around factional struggles within the GOP rather than any inter-party competition.

The Republican Party is aided in large part by New Hampshire's electoral system - the unicameral General Court is elected by town, with each town guaranteed one seat and then being given an additional one for every 5,000 inhabitants (the unincorporated townships, which are almost all uninhabited, do not send representatives). The four largest towns (Manchester, Nashua, Concord and Derry) elect their representatives by proportional representation, while all the others use FPTP/bloc vote for theirs. This system skews the voting balance in the legislature in favour of rural towns, which is of course where the GOP has its traditional stronghold - large urban centres (the sort of places where the Labor Party is strong) are underrepresented. Further, as most towns elect only one or two representatives, this means that a dominant party can often ride roughshod over a divided opposition - when the state was a straight GOP/Labor two-party system, Labor were able to put up a fight in many smaller towns, but as the Greens have risen in their place (and indeed, have had far more success in small towns than Labor ever had), few Labor-voting areas remain outside the Merrimack and Piscataqua river valleys.

Aside from the main three, the Liberals from over in Massachusetts have been trying to set up a New Hampshire branch, with limited success - Manchester and Nashua being the only towns to return representatives for them - and the Libertarians have utterly failed to show up here. However, various independents have achieved some degree of success in the smaller towns, usually running on labels such as "For [town]", "[town] Residents", "[town] First" and the like. Many of these are indistinguishable from Republicans in ideology, but for various reasons have opted to run outside the party - they tend to form support for the moderate Republicans whenever the party finds itself unable to come together.

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Ares96

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Georgia
(2014 legislative election, originally posted January 2016)

Georgia is, unquestionably, the focal point of the Deep South, economically as well as politically. Atlanta has been a transportation nexus since its founding, first as a rail hub and then as one of the world's largest airports, and the state is the largest in the region bar Florida.

Like the other southern states, Georgia was historically dominated by the Democratic Party, which controlled the state government and enforced its racial segregation system - though the Georgia Democrats had a reasonably strong left-leaning wing, as exemplified by former Governor James Earl Carter. The Republicans have never been much of a force in the state, and so the first real opposition forces came with African-American enfranchisement in the 1960s. Unlike in Alabama or Mississippi, however, Georgia's African-American community never formed a unified political force to represent it. Instead, the urban African-Americans in Atlanta and the other major cities joined some working-class whites in the Labor Party, which had existed since the 1920s with no real chance of winning anything - largely thanks to the pseudo-electoral college system used to elect the Governor at the time, which greatly overrepresented rural counties over urban ones. Rural African-Americans, for their part, joined the Georgia branch of the Soldiers of Christ, originally formed in neighboring Alabama by Baptist pastor and civil rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr. The SoC, which blends an evangelical Protestant take on Christian democracy with soft black nationalism, remains large in the Black Belt region of south-central Georgia, but fails to penetrate urban regions.

Meanwhile, some political change has been seen on the other side of the racial spectrum. Suburban Atlanta, which is no longer disenfranchised, has trended Republican since the 80s, and many of the most loyal Democratic voter bases have turned toward the Liberty Party, which continues to grow with every election. Suffice it to say that Democratic dominance may not last very much longer...

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Ares96

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Louisiana
(2015 legislative election, originally posted March 2016)

Louisiana might be the most culturally unique state in the Union. Located at the mouth of the Mississippi, this area was colonised by the French before the United States purchased it, and significant remnants of French creole culture are retained - notably the New Orleans French Quarter, one of few authentic "old-town" neighborhoods in the US, and the cuisines endemic to the state. Then there are the Cajuns, descendants of the exiled Acadians who fled modern-day Nova Scotia after the British took over, who live in the swamplands of the Mississippi delta and the southwestern portion of the state, and share a strong community cohesion, a distrust of organized government and a vibrant folk culture of their own centered around music, dances and food. These endemic cultures, along with the lingering influence of French civil law and of the Roman Catholic Church, have made Louisiana very distinct from the rest of the Deep South, but many elements of its political culture still survive, with the system being dominated by shirtsleeves populism, institutional racism and corruption.

Louisiana differs from much of the rest of the Deep South in that it had and has an active Labor Party which is able to draw significant white support - chiefly so in the state's three major cities, but at times (notably during Huey Long's reign as governor) it's been able to secure broad support from across the state. Since the 1970s, the traditional government structure has been a Labor-Democrat grand coalition, with the governor's mansion rotating between them and the two parties cooperating on most significant legislation. The Liberty Party has been gaining in strength among the traditional Democratic base, as the ideals of religious morality and economic freedom begin to resonate with the white Protestant working classes in the north of the state, while the Republicans remain unable to break out of their pockets of support in suburban New Orleans (as is typical of their situation south of the Mason-Dixon line). Then there's the Parti Cadien, the Cajun political organization, which is fairly strong among its ethnic base but has never quite achieved the monolithic support of the black parties in Mississippi and Alabama.

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Ares96

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Minnesota
(2014 legislative election, content updated February 2020)

Minnesota is the northernmost state in the mainland United States, thanks to the slight protrusion above the 49th parallel caused by lack of information when the US-British border treaties were originally drawn up, and it has a fairly unique political culture. Like the remainder of the Upper Midwest, Minnesota was historically dominated by Germanic ethnic groups - chiefly Germans, Norwegians and Swedes - and these groups brought with them a high level of civic trust and responsibility, as well as a strong left-wing political ethos (being disproportionately from the lower rungs of society). The state was one of the early strongholds of the Labor movement, and leaders like Floyd Olson, Hubert Humphrey and Paul Wellstone carried its legacy on through decades of dominance in the state's political life.

The Labor Party remains the biggest in the state by quite a margin, although the introduction of a runoff in gubernatorial elections means it doesn't quite have the insurmountable stranglehold on the governor's mansion it once enjoyed. Once being perpetually within inches of an overall popular vote majority, today Labor usually gathers between 35 and 40 percent of the vote in legislative elections and the first round of the gubernatorials. Its main opponent, as usual in the Midwest, is the Republican Party, which is weaker here than in many other places, largely owing to a split in the party in the late 1970s, with the more doctrinaire conservatives bolting out to form the Conservative Party and taking about a third of the party's voteshare with them. In between the two main blocs is the Farmers' Party, the Minnesota edition of the agrarian special-interest parties that exist across the Great Plains - its main support area is in the more fertile southern part of the state, and while generally not aligned with either side of politics, it tends to side with Labor on most issues in exchange for supporting continued farm subsidies.

In the old days, this was Minnesota's party system. Recently, however, two new forces have appeared from the sidelines - firstly the Greens, whose state branch is on the left of the party, and who draw most of their support from the Twin Cities and their surroundings. Secondly, there's the Liberty Party, which like its sister parties in other states is a right-wing populist protest movement. In Minnesota the party toes a fairly standard line, mixing economic freedom with evangelical Christian social teaching - this message resounds well with the dissidents of a state where big-state centre-left politics have been the received wisdom for decades, and particularly so in southern rural areas that feel shafted by Labor's focus on the Twin Cities and the north. Like other Liberty parties, the Minnesota branch has fared better in federal elections than in state-level ones, but the 2014 legislative election saw them break through in a big way, capturing some 13 percent of the vote and beating the Farmers into third place. It even managed to win a district outright, becoming the first new party to do so in a very long time (since the Conservatives narrowly won Stearns County in the 1982 right-wing landslide). Even so, it's still reliant on the at-large seats, as most of its support is spread out over the smaller rural electoral districts.

The Minnesota Legislature is a unicameral body, consisting of 150 members. Of these, 130 are elected by proportional representation in each of the state's counties, with merged districts where counties are too small to be entitled to a seat in their own right - this is similar to Washington's electoral system, but Minnesota differs from it in having 20 at-large leveling seats to offset the distortion created by the population imbalance.

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Ares96

THE BIG GUY getting 10% of millions
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South Carolina
(2014 legislative elections, originally posted July 2016)

South Carolina is a different state, even by the Deep South's standards. Where states like Georgia and Florida have started to let in the world and develop vibrant multi-party systems in line with the federal one, South Carolina remains very much affixed to the customs and ways of the Old South, even as immigration has seen the state's population double and shifted its population balance increasingly toward the upland region of the northwest. Like in Alabama and Mississippi, South Carolina's politics divide largely along racial lines, with the state's white population voting overwhelmingly for the Democrats and the African Americans supporting the Soldiers of Christ by an equally strong margin. The two parties are broadly similar in actual ideology, supporting a vague centrist economic platform and pork-barrel politics favoring each legislator's constituents. Nonetheless, they compete fiercely over what few swing votes there are, and the differences they do have (generally over social policy, where the SoC is a bit more liberal, although both parties would be considered right of center anywhere north of the Mason-Dixon line) are highly accentuated in voters' minds. In recent years, two new parties have began to take part in state politics: on one hand the Liberty Party, which does very well in federal elections but less so in state ones, and on the other hand Labor, which is largely an urban party for blacks and hipsters who are disaffected with the style of their "natural" parties. Neither one cracks ten seats, and of course the Republicans are dead as a dodo and have been since Reconstruction ended.

South Carolina retains its traditional system of government and elections. The state functions on something resembling a parliamentary system, with the legislature electing the governor (for a term of two years; the removal of a sitting governor is within the legislature's power, but rarely happens in practice) and all cabinet positions, as well as selecting the state's electoral slate for President, while county and municipal officials are elected directly by the people. The bicameral legislature consists of a House of Representatives with 125 seats, which are apportioned among the counties according to population (although the last census reapportionment happened in 1950) and elected by plurality in all counties with five or fewer seats (the larger counties use proportional representation), and a Senate with one member from each county (currently 46) which are elected by plurality. Both houses generally have Democratic majorities, and the 2014 elections proved no exception.

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Ares96

THE BIG GUY getting 10% of millions
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Nebraska
(2014 legislative election, originally posted July 2016)

Nebraska, being perhaps the most quintessentially Middle American state, is a fairly unremarkable place. It's first and foremost an agricultural state, with endless fields of grain and cattle grazing grounds cut across by straight highways and railroad lines that can stretch off to the horizon with no natural features or settlements in sight. Its main urban center is found in Omaha, which is home to the Union Pacific Railroad and Berkshire Hathaway but otherwise fairly nondescript, with all the trappings of your average American city of slightly under a million inhabitants. The state capital of Lincoln, a little over fifty miles to the west, is a solid second in terms of population, with the rest of the state's two million inhabitants spread across its area (though the eastern half is notably more populous than the west).

Politically the state is similarly nondescript. The Republican Party is strong here, and has been strong here for as long as there's been a party with that name. Traditionally it maintained a near-monopoly on state politics, but at roughly the same time as its Minnesota counterpart, the party split. However, in Nebraska it was the urban, liberal wing of the party that walked out, forming the Liberal Party and establishing a credible opposition to GOP hegemony for the first time since Bryan's time. Meanwhile, the western evangelicals and rural interests bolted over to the Liberty Party, and thus the modern one-and-two-half-party system of the state was born. Meanwhile in North Omaha, one of the precious few majority-minority areas in the state (African American in this case), Ernie Chambers has been the state legislature's only Labor member for the past forty years, and is showing no sign of slowing down at age 79.

Nebraska has a unicameral legislature, like quite a few smaller and western states, but is unusual in that it was its upper rather than lower house that was retained when the bicameral system was abolished. So the current legislature is a 49-member body elected in single-member districts by plurality, with no proportional element whatsoever to the system. This has played a large part in keeping the GOP in its state of unassailable hegemony, and even as the opposition parties have carved out niches for themselves, the GOP remains firmly in the majority backed by its unwavering support from the Omaha and Lincoln commuter belts.

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Ares96

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Virginia
(2015 legislative election, originally posted September 2016)

Virginia is the oldest English-speaking settlement in North America. When the Puritans landed on Plymouth Rock, Jamestown was already an established town with numerous settlers and a local economy. Virginia was generally less radical in sentiment than the colonies to its north, supporting the Crown in the English Civil War and relying extensively on slavery and indentured servitude to power its agrarian economy. Nonetheless it enthusiastically participated in the American Revolution, and indeed many of its leaders were natives of the "Old Dominion", including the drafter of the Declaration of Independence and four of the five first Presidents of the new nation. It continued to stand up for its particular social system in the years to follow through the articulation of the ideal of "Jeffersonian Democracy", a system where every free man would own land and participate in civil society on the basis of equality - while this system never existed in pure form, it nonetheless provided a strong ideal to guide the American republic and in particular its westward expansion. The state was divided by the Civil War, with the state government seceding from the Union to join the Confederacy, but many of its sons fighting on both sides and a whole chunk of the Appalachian region of the state breaking off to form its own state of West Virginia.

The 20th century was a quiet one for the state, as it grew from a mostly agrarian post-Confederate economy to one very much dominated by the vagaries of the federal government, both in the Washington suburbs that now dominate the state's northern part and the naval bases that guard the approach to the nation's capital at Hampton Roads. The inland parts of the state, however, remain distinctly Southern in outlook, with both plantation agriculture and Appalachian smallholds and coal mines proliferating.

Virginia is on the crossroads between North and South, and this is reflected in the state's politics, which is largely three-cornered. The Democrats, traditionally the governing party, draw great strength from the rural parts of the state and the white population of several of its cities (notably Virginia Beach), while most of the federal government employees turn to the GOP, which has grown stronger in the state as the government has grown and more and more of its employees have taken residence in Virginia's suburbs. Then there's Labor, which remains the party of ethnic minorities in Virginia, a state largely devoid of the Soldiers of Christ. The Virginia Labor Party is traditionally dominated by a shaky alliance between urban blacks and Appalachian coal miners, which is beginning to unravel as the latter group loses numerical strength, and it remains to be seen whether the party can remain. The Greens and the Liberty Party both hold seats in the House of Delegates, but both are largely peripheral to the state's politics and lack much in the way of influence.

Virginia's House of Delegates is the successor of the House of Burgesses, the oldest legislature in the Americas, and currently functions as a unicameral body of 100 seats. Of these, 31 are elected from Virginia's independent cities while the other 69 are elected from the non-city areas (technically defined in law as "rural", though this term is getting increasingly meaningless with the growth of NOVA, which is largely unincorporated, and suburban Richmond). Virginia is unique in the Union in having this official split between urban and rural areas, and notable also for its holding of state elections in odd-numbered years, with the legislature up for election every two years and the Governor and Executive Council every four years.

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Ares96

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Utah
(2014 legislative election, originally posted September 2016)

Utah is... weird. The first white settlers in the state were Mormons who fled persecution at the hands of their opponents in the Midwest and established agriculture in the valleys south and east of the Great Salt Lake. When the Transcontinental Railroad arrived in 1869, the Mormon domination of the region curbed settlement by other religious groups, and even today a solid majority of Utah's population are members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. It is almost certainly because of this that statehood applications for Utah were consistently refused until the LDS Church had given up its practice of polygamy, and of the continental United States, only Oklahoma, Arizona and New Mexico took longer to gain admission to the Union.

Throughout the century and a half since Utah was settled, the LDS Church has retained a dominance in politics as strong as its dominance in spiritual life. The People's Party, which is endorsed by the Church and partially shares its leadership, controls both the governor's mansion and the state legislature, backed by the bloc votes of nearly all Mormons in the state. The party's ideology is an eclectic mix, combining hardline religious conservatism on social issues with a relatively progressive attitude to economic matters - the state maintains a single-payer healthcare system, and the Church provides generous relief for the poor with the state government's support. This is not entirely unlike the "social-Christian" wing of the Democratic Party, who the People's Party sits with in Congress at times, but they've never actually folded into the Democratic Party because of the large cultural gap. Another factor in this is how the federal Democrats have at times joined the GOP in lending support to the People's Party's traditional opponents, the Liberal Party - a big-tent grouping representing the non-Mormons in the state and providing a counterbalance to People's Party dominance. The Liberals have moved back and forth on the ideological scale, but currently align fairly closely with the Republicans, and sit with them in Congress. Together, these two parties form one of the purest two-party dichotomies seen in any state, with the People's Party generally retaining its majority but the Liberals occasionally squeaking through in times of discontent.

Utah uses proportional representation to elect its 99-member legislature, and in recent years this has led to some dilution of the two-party system as federal parties have began to stand in parts of Utah with moderate success. The most successful of these has been the Liberty Party, who do well with discontented Mormons who believe the People's Party isn't right-wing enough, as well as some conservative non-Mormons in the southern and eastern parts of the state. In Salt Lake City, traditionally about the only remotely left-of-center city in the state, both Labor and the Greens have obtained small footholds, the latter also doing well toward the north end of the state. Nonetheless, none of these are anywhere near as strong as the two main parties, and the People's Party retain an absolute majority of legislators during the 2014-18 term.

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Ares96

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Rhode Island
(2014 legislative election, originally posted December 2016)

Rhode Island and Providence Plantations, the smallest state in the Union by land area, is a slightly unusual place. While its Revolutionary heritage is less famed than that of neighboring Massachusetts, Rhode Island nonetheless has a proud and strong tradition of free thought and independent action, which has sometimes been a source of pride and sometimes one of shame - for instance, the state was the epicenter of the slave trade in the northern states, had a widespread panic about vampirism following an 1850s tuberculosis outbreak, and it took an armed rebellion before all adult men earned the right to vote, but on the other hand the state is home to Brown University, traditionally the most politically radical of the Ivy League universities, and it was the first state to send its men to fight in the Civil War, with over a tenth of its population participating in that conflict at one point or another.

In the 20th century, the state's politics have largely been a sort of mirror image of the rest of New England, with Labor completely dominant and the Republicans languishing in opposition. The GOP occasionally is able to win a statewide elected office, but it almost always does dismally on the legislative level, and has not held a majority in the unicameral General Assembly in over half a century. Republican or independent governors have traditionally had to work with a Labor legislature, which those on the left argue has created a tradition of constructive consensus-driven politics in the state (in contrast with the confrontational style of politics in states like New York or Ohio), while the right believes it's made any attempt at altering the course of events impossible and cemented Rhode Island's institutional bloat. The main third party in the state is the eccentrically-named Cool Moose Party, led by the equally eccentric perennial gubernatorial candidate Bob Healey, who's run for governor in every election since 1998 on a platform of ending partisanship and uniting the best people from across the political spectrum to reform the government along "common sense" lines - usually this makes him more friends among the GOP than with Labor.

As mentioned, the General Assembly of Rhode Island is a unicameral body - the Labor Party abolished the upper house as soon as it was able to, not wanting to see a repeat of the Massachusetts situation - with 75 members, who are elected by PR in seven districts of roughly equal size. Kent and Washington counties are each equivalent to one district (along with judicial purposes the only form in which those counties survive, Rhode Island being one of three states in the union with only a single tier of local government), while Newport and Bristol counties form a district together and Providence County is split into four districts of equal size, one being the city of Providence itself and the others divisions along geographic lines.

USCH-modern-ri.png
 

Ares96

THE BIG GUY getting 10% of millions
Published by SLP
Location
Fubbicktown
Pronouns
he/him
Pennsylvania
(2014 legislative election, originally posted December 2017)

From the time of William Penn's landing in the late 17th century, Pennsylvania has stood as the keystone of the American colonies, and later of the United States. Its government was organized in a manner highly democratic for its time, with full religious liberties (provided you acknowledged the existence of one God) and a directly-elected legislature that held broad sway over the colonial governor. Its position in the middle of the country, between industrial New York and New England in the north and the agrarian states of the South, would make it a crucially important state during the Revolution and the succeeding years. It was at Philadelphia that the Continental Congress signed the Declaration of Independence, and that the 1787 convention framed the United States Constitution. It was in Philadelphia that the Bank and Mint of the United States spurred on the economic growth of the young nation, and it was in Pennsylvania that the Army repelled the furthest advance north of Robert E. Lee's army at the Battle of Gettysburg, sealing the fate of the secessionist Confederacy. Famous Pennsylvanians such as Benjamin Franklin, Thaddeus Stevens, Andrew Mellon and Milton Hershey have all made their mark on their state and their country.

Today, Pennsylvania continues to be torn between north and south, and as such, it's a crucial swing state in federal elections - only in part because it remains the sixth most populous state in the Union. On the state level, however, matters are slightly different - Labor has been in at least partial control of the General Assembly (holding majorities in the state House, Senate or both) since 1932, although the governor's office has rotated between them and the vague coalition on the right that opposes them (most recently in the form of Republican Arlen Specter, who governed the state from 1995 to 1999). Despite Labor's theoretical dominance, the party has often been harmed by infighting between its different regional branches, with Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Wyoming Valley and Lehigh Valley Laborites often unable to agree on legislation and sometimes even refusing to back each other's candidates for statewide office, handing elections to the right in the second round.

Opposing Labor, the GOP is traditionally dominant on the right in Pennsylvania - its "Main Street values" of fiscal responsibility and small-c conservatism on social issues resonating well with the electorate in the suburban southeast of the state, as well as the ring of suburbs around Pittsburgh, in particular - but it's never attained the same degree of dominance as its sister parties in New England and much of the Midwest. This is because rural Pennsylvania, traditionally conservative and more aligned with the Appalachian region to its south than the rest of the Northeast, has traditionally voted for the Democratic Party. The Pennsylvania Democrats tend to be to the right of the national party, and although it has been known to compromise with Labor on legislation, it nearly always supports GOP candidates for statewide office after the elimination of its own candidates (and vice versa). As in so many other places, however, the Liberty Party is experiencing a surge in support from rural conservatives, and this threatens to push the Democrats out of relevance.

The system is rounded out by the Green Party, which is one of the oldest branches of that party, having first secured election to the House in 1982 on the heels of the Three Mile Island incident, as well as the Soldiers of Christ, who hold three seats in and around Philadelphia that have been theirs since the 1960s.

The Pennsylvania General Assembly resembles most other bicameral state legislatures in that its lower house, the House of Representatives, is elected proportionally by the counties (except in counties with just one seat, where FPTP is practiced), while the state Senate is elected from single-member districts assigned to counties by an arcane population formula set out in the state constitution, which guarantees very rough equality between districts. The 2014 elections, in addition to narrowly confirming Labor nominee Robert Casey, Jr., a leader of the party right who had served as state treasurer for the previous term, as Governor, saw largely predictable legislative results. Labor failed to regain its majority in the House, but did successfully defend its state Senate majority by the narrowest of margins, all while the Democrats continued to be pushed out by Liberty, which claimed third place in the House elections for the first time, although failing to break through in the Senate to quite the same extent.

USCH-modern-pa.png
 

Ares96

THE BIG GUY getting 10% of millions
Published by SLP
Location
Fubbicktown
Pronouns
he/him
...and that's all the states I've got ready. A couple of the older ones may be revised as the project moves forward. New York and California, as you can see from the overview map, are in various stages of completion, and I'll put them up as soon as I get around to finishing them.
 

Nanwe

malasañeando
Location
Madrid
Pronouns
he/him
Rhode Island
(2014 legislative election, originally posted December 2016)

Rhode Island and Providence Plantations, the smallest state in the Union by land area, is a slightly unusual place. While its Revolutionary heritage is less famed than that of neighboring Massachusetts, Rhode Island nonetheless has a proud and strong tradition of free thought and independent action, which has sometimes been a source of pride and sometimes one of shame - for instance, the state was the epicenter of the slave trade in the northern states, had a widespread panic about vampirism following an 1850s tuberculosis outbreak, and it took an armed rebellion before all adult men earned the right to vote, but on the other hand the state is home to Brown University, traditionally the most politically radical of the Ivy League universities, and it was the first state to send its men to fight in the Civil War, with over a tenth of its population participating in that conflict at one point or another.

In the 20th century, the state's politics have largely been a sort of mirror image of the rest of New England, with Labor completely dominant and the Republicans languishing in opposition. The GOP occasionally is able to win a statewide elected office, but it almost always does dismally on the legislative level, and has not held a majority in the unicameral General Assembly in over half a century. Republican or independent governors have traditionally had to work with a Labor legislature, which those on the left argue has created a tradition of constructive consensus-driven politics in the state (in contrast with the confrontational style of politics in states like New York or Ohio), while the right believes it's made any attempt at altering the course of events impossible and cemented Rhode Island's institutional bloat. The main third party in the state is the eccentrically-named Cool Moose Party, led by the equally eccentric perennial gubernatorial candidate Bob Healey, who's run for governor in every election since 1998 on a platform of ending partisanship and uniting the best people from across the political spectrum to reform the government along "common sense" lines - usually this makes him more friends among the GOP than with Labor.

As mentioned, the General Assembly of Rhode Island is a unicameral body - the Labor Party abolished the upper house as soon as it was able to, not wanting to see a repeat of the Massachusetts situation - with 75 members, who are elected by PR in seven districts of roughly equal size. Kent and Washington counties are each equivalent to one district (along with judicial purposes the only form in which those counties survive, Rhode Island being one of three states in the union with only a single tier of local government), while Newport and Bristol counties form a district together and Providence County is split into four districts of equal size, one being the city of Providence itself and the others divisions along geographic lines.

After listening to Crimetown, I have to admit that I'm saddened by the lack of mention of Buddy Cianci's success. But I did miss these, they were very good, and an inspiration for my Columbia backburner project.
 

Ares96

THE BIG GUY getting 10% of millions
Published by SLP
Location
Fubbicktown
Pronouns
he/him
After listening to Crimetown, I have to admit that I'm saddened by the lack of mention of Buddy Cianci's success. But I did miss these, they were very good, and an inspiration for my Columbia backburner project.
Full disclosure, I hadn’t listened to Crimetown when I made the map. It might well have looked different if I had.
 
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