The Political Evolution of the States, Mapped Part VI

This time I am again focusing on the western United States, and these ones are a bit more liberal on average than the previous states I covered.


Arizona MC-Index

When Arizona was first admitted in 1912, it sent a full Democratic delegation to Congress, and save for the freak election of a Republican to the Senate in 1920, the state’s delegation was entirely Democratic until 1953. The Democrats of Arizona were supportive of the New Deal but as more Republicans from the Midwest moved to the state after World War II and suburbanization expanded, the state became more competitive. In 1952 Senate Majority Leader Ernest W. McFarland was unseated by Republican Barry Goldwater as was longtime Congressman John Murdock by Republican John Rhodes. Goldwater attributed his victory to the unpopularity of President Truman, which certainly was true in 1952 but there were greater long-term forces at work. Both men would gain prominence in American politics up until the 1980s, with Goldwater running for president in 1964 and Rhodes serving as Minority Leader from 1973 to 1981.

Although the state has a strong Republican reputation for good reasons, it has been challenged from time to time, and it seems like the recent era with the election of Democrat Kyrsten Sinema is perhaps the most challenging yet for the modern GOP. However, Arizona did elect Dennis DeConcini for three terms so Sinema’s election may or may not be a portend of things to come for the Republican Party. That said, right now Republican strength in Arizona is certainly not as high as it was in the 1990s.

MC-Index for the Current Congress Thus Far: 46%


Colorado MC-Index

Colorado has had a tumultuous political history from the start: one of its first senators, Henry Teller, switched parties twice. Although Colorado started as a strongly supportive state of the New Deal, enthusiasm for it waned to the extent that FDR lost the state in 1940 and two Republicans were elected to the House. After the 1948 election when the backlash against the New Deal had ended, the state became competitive in legislative races but on presidential, the state only voted twice for a Democratic candidate from 1952 to 2004. Although the state had a conservative bent in the 1990s and early 2000s, it now has a very slight Democratic lean as Democrats have won the state in the last three presidential elections. Also, Republicans have not elected a governor in the state since 2002, which is not encouraging.

MC-Index for the Current Congress Thus Far: 40%


Oregon MC-Index

Oregon was at one time a strongly Republican state. Although FDR won the state four times, the Democrats failed to elect a senator from the state during FDR’s presidency, and from 1943 to 1953 the entire state’s delegation was Republican. This changed with Senator Wayne Morse. Morse was from the start a liberal Republican who had been nominated to boot the strongly nativist Rufus Holman. Morse switched to Independent in 1953 because of his dislike of the party having picked Nixon for VP, and then in 1955 Morse became a Democrat, and with his conversion went the other Senate seat, won by liberal Richard Neuberger. Democrats would maintain a significant presence in Oregon from this point forward, but moderate to liberal Republicans could thrive statewide: from 1969 to 1995, both its senators were Republicans (Mark Hatfield and Bob Packwood), and this was even in times in which its House delegation was entirely Democratic. However, the state now seems quite Democratic as even though on paper three of its five districts should be possible for the GOP to win, they only consistently win one and to make matters worse, the last Republican to win the state was Ronald Reagan in 1984, the last Republican to serve as governor of the state left office in 1987, and the last Republican senator was reelected in 2002. Although George W. Bush almost won Oregon in 2000, since 2008 Republican candidates have lost by double digits in the state and it currently just seems out of reach for them.

MC-Index for the Current Congress Thus Far: 17%


Washington MC-Index

During the Roosevelt Administration, the state of Washington’s entire delegation was Democratic until 1942, when anti-Roosevelt sentiment had finally resulted in victories, primarily in conservative eastern Washington. In 1946, the state elected a Republican to the Senate for the first time since 1926 and its Congressional delegation shifted from 4-2 Democrat to 5-1 Republican. Although Democrats regained some ground, Republicans proved to have strong staying power in the House…at least until 1964. From 1953 to 1965, although Washington had two Democratic senators a majority of its representatives were Republicans. The 1964 Johnson landslide, however, ended that for thirty years with only two Republicans left, and after the 1970 midterms, Republicans were down to one representative. In 1968, the state voted for Humphrey while the rest of the west voted for Nixon. However, in 1976 the state voted for Ford and in the 1980 election, when Republican State Attorney General Slade Gorton rode Reagan’s coattails to defeat the aging Senator Warren Magnuson. Although Republicans have not won the state in a presidential election since 1984 and thus are not motivated to compete there, in 1994 the state had the most dramatic turnover of the Republican Revolution: the state’s House delegation went from 7-1 Democratic to 6-2 Republican. This presence, however, petered out over the next six years and in 2000 Gorton lost reelection.

The state currently stands at 7-3 Democratic in its House delegation and 2-0 in the Senate and in 2016 Clinton won the state by 16 points. Although Republicans have greater success in state legislative elections, on the federal level the state’s voters go Democrat.

MC-Index for the Current Congress Thus Far: 21%


Wyoming MC-Index

This state is quite possibly the most Republican of any state of the west and the nation. The last time the state’s voters saw fit to send a Democrat to Washington was in 1976, and the last time a Democrat won the state in a presidential election was 1964. However, Wyoming wasn’t always the most Republican state in the union. The state thrice voted for FDR (did not do so in 1944) and for quite some time they elected Democrat Joseph O’Mahoney to the Senate. Although after 1966 it was becoming clear that Wyoming was shifting in a conservative direction, Democrats still had success for a time with electing Senator Gale McGee, a Great Society supporter and a war hawk, as well as Teno Roncalio to the state’s only House seat. However, in 1976, Republican Malcolm Wallop defeated McGee in an election in which the focus was government intrusion into small business and ranches. In 1978, Dick Cheney was elected to the House, and from then on the state would not fall below an MC-Index score of 81%.

MC-Index for the Current Congress Thus Far: 85%



The Downfall of Congressman Louis T. McFadden

Image result for Louis T. McFadden

I covered this guy to a certain extent in my post about the proposal to impeach Herbert Hoover, and I stated that I would do something in depth. Here it is.

Louis T. McFadden, for all intents and purposes, was before 1929 no one who really made waves. He had been elected to Congress in 1914 from Pennsylvania and as chair of the House Banking Committee he authored a major banking law called the McFadden Act, but he wouldn’t become notorious until the onset of the Great Depression. In addition to trying to impeach President Herbert Hoover, McFadden got some ideas about what ailed the United States, specifically, international bankers and Jews, who were of course, often one and the same in his mind.

Some examples of McFadden’s outrageous anti-Semitism include:

When he delivered a speech against the Roosevelt Administration’s currency bill that ended the gold standard on May 29, 1933, he asked “Is it not true, that, in the United States today, the Gentiles have slips of paper while the Jews have gold and lawful money? And is not this repudiation bill a bill specifically designed and written by the Jewish international money changers themselves in order to perpetuate their own power?” (Arad, 174)

He cited the notorious anti-Semitic forgery The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, in the Congressional Record:

“Article XII (Protocols): We hold in our hands the greatest modern power-gold; in two days we could free it from our treasuries in any desired quantities.

“The Jews are economists esoteric and exoteric: They have one system to tangle up the Gentile which they hope to install when ‘Gentile’ stupidity has bankrupted the world…. We will surround our Government with a whole world of economists. It is for that reason that the science of economics is the chief subject of instruction taught by the Jews” (McGrady).

When it was pointed out to McFadden that this was a forgery, he stated that it didn’t matter whether it was genuine or not because it was predictive of what was happening.

He objected to Henry Morgenthau, a Jew, becoming Secretary of the Treasury based on his religion.

McFadden denied that German Jews were being persecuted under Hitler, rather the Nazis were going after Galician Jews in Germany who were Communists.

McFadden attracted some positive attention for his speeches from American fascists such as William Dudley Pelley, who ran the Silver Shirts, a paramilitary organization modeled after the Nazi stormtroopers. He was also praised as one of the only members of Congress to stand up to Jewish interests by Julius Streicher’s viciously anti-Semitic Nazi tabloid Der Stuermer. Despite all this, McFadden claimed that he was not “personally anti-Semitic” and that “Some of my best friends are Jews”, which rings hollow as some Nazis, including Streicher, either proclaimed their friendship for the Jews or claimed that they were not personally anti-Semitic (McGrady).

However, McFadden didn’t get it all wrong. He also stated in 1932:

“From the Atlantic to the Pacific our country has been ravaged and laid waste by the evil practices of the Federal Reserve Board and the Federal reserve banks and the interests which control them … This is an era of economic misery and for the conditions that caused that misery, the Federal Reserve Board and the Federal Reserve banks are fully liable” (Flaherty, 2000). Many economists today, including the former Fed chairman Ben Bernanke, have laid the blame for the Great Depression on the Federal Reserve, but that it was an evil conspiracy of some sort is completely unfounded.

Although McFadden is sometimes approvingly cited for his speeches against the Federal Reserve, Congressman James G. Strong (R-Kan.) found fault with his allegations of conspiracy and implied they were merely bluster:

“There is a disease that afflicts mankind which is very vicious. It warps the judgment, it narrows the vision, it even causes men to see red, to make mountains out of mole hills.  This disease has sometimes been referred to as B.A.  Ladies may refer to it as “tummy” ache, but out in the wide-open spaces men call it the “belly” ache, and I know of no man of my acquaintance that has this disease in so violent a form as the gentleman from Pennsylvania, Mr. McFadden.

I have not the time to refer to the many charges he makes against the Federal Reserve system, but I call attention to the fact that for 12 years he has been the chairman of the Banking and Currency Committee of this House and did not see fit during that time to remedy any of the evils of which he now complains. It seems to me entirely out of place to wait until he is retired as chairman of that great committee and then assault all of the institutions of which it has control” (Flaherty, 2000).

Despite his conspiratorial and anti-Semitic rhetoric, McFadden also happened to be an eloquent speaker and thus in July 1934 the Republican National Committee blundered by allowing him to rhetorically open their midterm campaign. He stated in the RNC sponsored speech, “Don’t spend your time worrying over the alleged tyrannies of Hitler. Look first to your own case” (Jewish Daily Bulletin).

On a positive note about McFadden, he did not appear to be bigoted against blacks…he opposed Jim Crow policies in the House restaurant and dissented when the committee set up to investigate these practices chose to retain policies that served to prevent anyone who was black and not either a member of Congress or a guest of a member of Congress from eating there while whites could eat there regardless of membership or being a guest.

In 1934, McFadden lost reelection in a strongly Republican district primarily due to his anti-Semitism and the following year he announced a presidential bid with the support of “the Independent Republican National Christian-Gentile Committee” on the platform to “keep the Jew out of control of the Republican Party!” (Jewish Telegraphic Agency). However, he didn’t attract enough support and thus tried to win back his old Congressional seat, but he lost the Republican primary to Colonel Albert G. Rutherford, who would win back the seat. On October 1, 1936, McFadden died of coronary thrombosis at the age of 60.


Arad, G.N. (2000). America, Its Jews, and the rise of Nazism. Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press.

Flaherty, E. (2000, September 6). Debunking the Federal Reserve Conspiracy Theories (and other financial myths). Family Guardian.

Retrieved from

Jewish Daily Bulletin. (1934, November 8). L.T. McFadden, U.S. Fascist Ally, Beaten at Polls.

Retrieved from

Jewish Telegraphic Agency. (1934, October 2). L.T. McFadden, Anti-Semitic Ex-Congressman, Dies in New York.

Retrieved from

McGrady, P. (1934, May 1). Anti-Semitism in House of Congress. Jewish Daily Bulletin.

Retrieved from



The Political Evolution of the States, Mapped Part V

Today I am covering the Midwest and West with the states of Idaho, Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Utah. All of these are currently solidly red states for presidential elections, but it wasn’t always this way. Before World War II, rural states could be quite amenable to left-wing populist proposals, especially if they benefited farmers. All of these states, for instance, had sympathy with the free silver platform. Idaho and North Dakota outright voted for Populist James B. Weaver in 1892, and only North Dakota would not vote for Democrat William Jennings Bryan in 1896. Thus, this area was fertile ground, at least initially, for New Deal politics.


Idaho MC-Index

In 1933, Idaho’s political makeup was unrecognizable to the modern eye: two Democratic representatives and only one Republican senator in William E. Borah, who was somewhat part of the progressive wing of the party. This was actually quite a change for Idaho since for the last thirty years they had only been electing Republicans to the House and Democrats were not often elected to the Senate. However, like other rural states, the voters of the state of Idaho became increasingly antagonistic to the New Deal and FDR’s interventionist foreign policy was uniformly opposed. Indeed, Idaho’s entire delegation to Congress, Democrat and Republican, voted against Lend Lease in 1941. The state, however, would continue voting for Democratic candidates for president until 1952. Since then, only Democrat Lyndon B. Johnson won the state’s vote in 1964, and he barely prevailed there.

The backlash to the Great Society and the administration’s handling of Vietnam was so great that the state permanently shifted to conservatism. A state that once elected Soviet dupe Glen H. Taylor to the Senate now was electing extremely conservative anti-federal government types like Steve Symms and George Hansen. The only major Democratic success nationally for a while was the continued reelection of Senator Frank Church, who ultimately got swept away in the Reagan landslide in 1980. The most recent brief success the Democrats had was the election of Walt Minnick to Idaho’s 1st for a single term in 2008, but the incumbent Republican was pretty unpopular and the economy stunk. As a state, Idaho remains one of the least friendly states to Democrats in the nation, and they only have a chance at a Congressional seat when several unusually favorable factors are at play for them.

MC-Index Average for Current Congress Thus Far: 84


Montana MC-Index

Of all these states, Montana is the most currently favorable to Democrats. The people like their current governor, Steve Bullock, and they reelected Senator Jon Tester in 2018. However, since 1997 Republicans have held their At-Large House district and their current senator, Steve Daines, is also popular and with Bullock ruling out a Senate run, he will almost certainly win reelection in 2020. Things weren’t always this way, in fact the Democrats have had a remarkably good run in the state historically. From 1933 to 1989, only one Republican represented Montana in the Senate, and he lost reelection after a single term. However, similar to other rural states, Montana was quite opposed to American involvement in World War II before Pearl Harbor and one of its senators, Democrat Burton K. Wheeler, was one of the chamber’s two foremost non-interventionists, and thus a tremendous pain in the ass for FDR. The state also elected the only representative to vote against war with Japan, Republican Jeanette Rankin. Senator James Murray alone backed FDR on foreign policy, and it almost cost him reelection in 1942. Yet, the state didn’t experience the same backlash against the New Deal as had other states.

After World War II, the Democrats would usually hold the 1st district (west, Helena) while the Republicans would usually hold the 2nd district (east, Billings). Although on a presidential level from 1952 onwards, the state would only twice vote for a Democrat, it wasn’t until the 1990s that Republicans finally managed to get an edge here in representation. The state is although red on a presidential level, its voters retain a soft spot for state Democrats provided they tread lightly on the subject of gun control.

MC-Index Average for Current Congress Thus Far: 61

North Dakota

North Dakota MC-Index

North Dakota has a rather bizarre history on the Congressional level that speaks to the populism of its voters, which was vibrant even in this century. During Roosevelt Administration, the state’s voters only elected one Democrat to the Senate and he died after only two months in office. The state’s politics from 1933 to 1959 can be understood as a battle between the two factions of the state’s Republican Party: the NPL (Non-Partisan League) and the IVA (Independent Voters’ Association). The NPL was progressive and the IVA was conservative. NPL tended to have more success in elections, but both had in common staunch opposition to FDR’s foreign policy. By 1958, however, the issue had become muted with the internationalist Republican Eisenhower presidency, and the NPL decided to break off from the Republicans and have a merger with the Democrats. This was reflected in a father-son shift: Usher Burdick, a lifelong progressive Republican, retired from the House in 1959 and was succeeded by Quentin L. Burdick, a progressive Democrat. After Senator William Langer, a longtime progressive Republican, died in 1959, he was ultimately succeeded by Burdick.

Republicans still maintained a strong presence in representation until 1986, when Republican Senator Mark Andrews lost reelection to Democrat Kent Conrad, resulting in the state having, for the first time ever, a unified Democratic delegation to Congress. The Republican dry spell here persisted until the 2010 midterms despite easily winning presidential elections in the state. The 2018 election finally produced a unified Republican delegation to Congress, which hadn’t been seen in 60 years. North Dakota’s representation now reflects its presidential voting habits, but to only look at the present would be to miss that North Dakota’s voters have historically been quite independent in their behavior.

MC-Index Average for Current Congress Thus Far: 81

South Dakota

South Dakota MC-Index

South Dakota was in a similar spot as Idaho at the start of FDR’s presidency, except its Republican senator, Peter Norbeck, was even more progressive than Borah. Unlike Idaho or Montana, however,  the start of FDR’s second term produced a pronounced reaction as after 1938 only one of its federally elected officials was Democratic Senator William J. Bulow, and he had been growing more conservative. In 1942, the state elected Republican ultra-conservative Harlan J. Bushfield to the Senate, solidifying unified Republican representation in the state…until the 1956 election. That year, a young Democrat won election to the House in George McGovern. McGovern was ultra-liberal and yet he appealed to South Dakotans on a personal level to the point that he was elected to the Senate in 1962.

In the 1970 midterms, Democrats really gained ground as two Democrats were elected to the House while the Senate’s one Republican, Karl Mundt, was insisting on remaining in office despite having suffered a debilitating stroke. His refusal to leave office ultimately created conditions that allowed yet another liberal Democrat to win election to the Senate in James Abourezk. Democrats and Republicans would ultimately spar for power in representation from the 1970s right up until the 2010 midterms. Like North Dakotans, South Dakotans exhibited a certain independence in their voting behavior: while they voted for Bob Dole in 1996, they tossed out incumbent Republican Senator Larry Pressler for Democrat Tim Johnson and in 1998 they easily reelected Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle. At the end of the 20th century, the state had two Democratic senators and one Republican representative.

Today, South Dakota’s delegation, like with North Dakota’s, reflects its presidential voting behavior.

MC-Index Average for Current Congress Thus Far: 81


Utah MC-Index

Utah really liked President Franklin D. Roosevelt, for he was the only Democrat for whose administration the voters of the state exclusively elected Democrats to federal office. In 1946, this changed with the election of the 80th Congress when for the first time since 1930 the state elected a Republican representative as well as a Republican senator for the first time since 1926. The state had its ups and downs in its state delegation, but on the presidential level it has voted Republican for all but one election since 1952. Democrats, however, did not stop being competitive on a statewide scale until 1976, when liberal Democrat Senator Frank Moss lost reelection to conservative Republican Orrin Hatch. The state has been one of the strongest in conservatism of its delegation since with Democrats today only really having a chance of winning the Salt Lake City based 4th district, which they did in 2018.

MC-Index Average for Current Congress Thus Far: 82

This Economy Sucks…Let’s Impeach the President!

On February 5, 2020, President Donald Trump was acquitted by the Senate of the House’s impeachment charges. However, there was one Republican who voted to convict: Senator Mitt Romney of Utah. Although this is the first time a senator from the president’s own party voted to convict, this is not the first time a member of the President’s own party supported impeachment.

By December 1932, President Herbert Hoover’s political fate had been sealed…he had lost reelection quite badly amidst the greatest economic slump the United States ever faced, winning less than 40% of the vote and a paltry six states. Despite this, one rogue wanted to kick the president while he was down…one from his own party.

Image result for Herbert Hoover

President Herbert Hoover…McFadden will get his picture in his own entry.

Rep. Louis T. McFadden (R-Penn.) had not been a terribly controversial figure as far as Washington goes and he even as chair of the House Banking and Currency Committee had drafted a major banking law signed into law by President Coolidge. However, after the stock market crashed in 1929, McFadden began going down the rabbit hole of conspiracy theories (to the point that he will be getting his own post) and became increasingly a thorn in the side of Hoover. This culminated in his introducing an impeachment resolution, and in doing so accused him, among other things, of having “initiated and carried on secret conversations, ignominious to the United States, with German Government officials and international bankers and others, with intent to deceive and to injure the Government and the people of the United States…” (Congressional Record, 1932). McFadden was referring to the moratorium on debt payments Hoover agreed to with the German government in the face of economic catastrophe. This and other rationales were met with absolutely no approval from members of his own party, who shunned him and took away his committee posts. Senator David A. Reed (R-Penn.) stated, “We intend to act to all practical purposes as though McFadden had died” (Beatrice Daily Sun). On January 17, 1933, Congress tabled the second of his two impeachment inquiry efforts by a vote of 343-11…only ten Democrats in the end supported his efforts. McFadden also tried to impeach the Secretary of the Treasury and members of the Federal Reserve and blamed the Federal Reserve for the Great Depression. Ironically, many economists actually have concluded that the Federal Reserve’s actions turned the downturn into a depression, albeit not through some wicked plot as McFadden claimed.

P.S.: I’ll give you one guess which group his conspiracy theories involved!


Beatrice Daily Sun. (1932, May 10), p. 4.

Louis T. McFadden (PA). “Impeachment of Herbert Hoover – President of the United States.” Congressional Record  76 (1932) p. 399.


The Political Evolution of the States, Mapped Part IV

Today I am focusing on mostly border states so I am covering the states of Delaware, Kentucky, Maryland, Missouri, and North Carolina.


Delaware MC-Index

Delaware, the home state of Joe Biden, has had a surprising amount of history on the right. From 1933 to 2001, exactly three of the state’s senators could be regarded as liberals: James Hughes, James Tunnell, and Joe Biden. Hughes and Tunnell were New Dealers while Biden, is, you know, Biden. Both its senators in 1935 voted against Social Security and the state’s voters harbored a strong preference for politicians they regarded as fiscally responsible. The sudden drop off in the 77th Congress is due to both Hughes and Tunnell representing the state in the Senate and the House having a Democrat. Even as late as the 1990s the state is in moderate territory as one of its senators, William Roth, is a Republican as is its sole representative, Mike Castle. However, since 2001 the state has been getting increasingly liberal given that Republicans don’t even pay attention to the state in presidential elections and that Democrats now are practically a shoo-in. Perhaps if a Republican centrist like Mike Castle were to run the Republicans might get somewhere, but the state has become an awfully hard nut to crack, like it was between 1865 and 1889 when Democrats had undisputed control over the state.

MC-Index Average for Current Congress Thus Far: 9


Kentucky MC-Index

At one time Kentucky was one of the most strongly unionized states in the nation, but those days are gone as are the days of Democratic domination of the state. Although the voters of Kentucky voted for Democrat Andy Beshear as governor last year, this was due to the strong unpopularity of its embattled governor, Matt Bevin, as all the other statewide races went Republican. In the 1930s and 1940s, Democrats Alben Barkley and A.B. “Happy” Chandler were the primary politicians of the state, with the former being more politically successful and left-wing than the latter. He also served as Senate Majority Leader from 1937 to 1947. Today, the Senate Majority Leader is also from Kentucky, but he is Republican Mitch McConnell. However, the state’s change seems a bit of a long time coming given the social conservatism of the voters and hence their dislike of the politics of the 1960s. This didn’t sway them against Democrats given that many of the state’s Democrats took socially conservative positions, but given the state of the modern Democratic Party on social liberalism, national Democratic influence in Kentucky will likely, save for exceptionally bad years for the GOP, be restricted to urban centers such as Louisville.

MC-Index Average for Current Congress Thus Far: 74


Maryland MC-Index

Maryland has a bit of a long history as a Democratic state, as it was staunchly anti-Lincoln and Baltimore in particular had many secessionists. However, the nature of the Democratic Party changed as did its voters. However, as late as the 1960s it was possible for a segregationist candidate to win a Democratic primary, thus Republicans, including conservative ones, could win in such circumstances. Indeed, Maryland in the 1950s seems unrecognizable to modern Maryland, with two Republican senators! However, the state grew increasingly favorable to liberalism in the 1960s and 1970s, and Jimmy Carter even won the state in 1980. The state has not voted for a Republican candidate since 1988 and although the state has a Republican governor, he is a moderate and this choice doesn’t translate into national politics.

MC-Index Average for Current Congress Thus Far: 11


Missouri MC-Index

Missouri, like Maryland, had a long history as a Democratic state since there was a significant level of antagonism to Republicans that dates to the 1860s and 1870s. Indeed, many of Missouri’s residents had sympathy to the Confederacy and some even fought for it, such as President Harry S. Truman’s ancestors. His mother, who had memories of the Civil War and lived long enough to see him become president, reportedly refused to sleep in the Lincoln bedroom when she first visited in 1945. Although there was a New Deal backlash in the state that reached its peak in the 80th Congress when only one true New Deal Democrat represented the state, it really died down after the 1948 election and the state even narrowly voted for Stevenson over Eisenhower in 1956. For a few sessions of Congress, the state only had a single Republican representative, as the spectrum of Democrats in the state ranged from New Dealers like Frank Karsten and Richard Bolling to more conservative types like HUAC’s last chair, Richard Ichord. However, in the mid-late 1970s Republicans started making a comeback in the state, and by 1987 both its senators were Republicans. Indeed, since 1987 there have been only two Democrats who have served as senators from the state. Missouri currently only elects Democrats in its urban centers of Kansas City and St. Louis, and thus the state is one of those in which the urban-rural divide seems quite stark.

MC-Index Average for Current Congress Thus Far: 67

North Carolina

North Carolina MC-Index

North Carolina started as a New Deal supporting state, but there was a figure in its politics who from the very beginning was a bit of a thorn in the side of Roosevelt: Senator Josiah Bailey. It was Bailey who was one of the key authors of the Conservative Manifesto in 1937, which outlined a conservative alternative to the New Deal. The state gradually grew more conservative and more of its elected officials were voting against national Democratic proposals. An election that was indicative of North Carolina’s difficulties with national Democratic politics was the 1950 Senate primary between Frank Porter Graham, a staunch Fair Dealer, and Willis Smith, a conservative. Smith narrowly won this battle and despite Graham’s votes against a Fair Employment Practices Committee and for weakening army desegregation, anxieties over Truman’s civil rights program played a significant role in this primary fight, with Smith’s campaign releasing campaign literature that warned of racial integration. The voters of the state wanted to keep ideological battles within the Democratic Party for now, so Republicans only gradually rose in the state. However, the 1960s changed the state.

In the 1960s, Democrats in the state grew more conservative and Republicans were getting competitive. The state hit peak conservatism after the 1966 midterms, with its delegation getting a score of 85. However, the more liberal elements of the Democratic Party would slowly gain in power and push candidates who took more moderate stances, or, even get incumbents to move leftward in exchange for power, such as Walter B. Jones Sr. Thus, the age of Reagan and Bush I strangely enough proved more of a watershed in moderate Democratic politics than conservatism. These developments as well as the influence of Senator Jesse Helms also helped push more conservative voters into the Republican Party and by the Clinton era retiring Democrats were getting replaced by Republicans. The state now leans Republican, but its current score is a bit high and is likely to go a bit down in the next Congress given a redistricting that will probably flip at least two seats to Democrat.

MC-Index Average for Current Congress Thus Far:  73








The Secret Communists of Congress

In 1993, American Communist Party attorney John Abt’s memoirs were published posthumously, and in these memoirs he shed some light into the activities of the party. He admitted to the existence of the Ware group and his membership in it, which was a secret communist organization consisting of officers of the Roosevelt Administration that passed on intelligence to the USSR. The existence of this group is also corroborated by the Venona documents and the admissions of members Lee Pressman, Nathaniel Weyl, and Hope Hale Davis. On the nature of the American Communist Party, Abt wrote, “The CPUSA could not, in the American sense of politics, be a party that contended for power through the ballot. Rather we were to be the loyal opposition whose role was to push the Democrats to the left (Abt, 117)”. Particularly notable was his admission that there were two secret communists in Congress he was aware of, “The two Communists who were elected to Congress — Johnny Bernard from Minnesota and Hugh DeLacy from Washington State — were elected as Democrats” (Abt, 117). Whenever I write about the CPUSA, I feel I must stress that this was an organization that took orders from Moscow and that any criticism of the USSR or Stalin was grounds for expulsion, but not so for the USA or Roosevelt.

John T. Bernard

Image result for John T. Bernard

Contrary to Abt’s memory, John T. Bernard (1893-1983) never served as a Democrat, but he was a member of the Farmer-Labor Party, which would later merge with the Democrats. This being said, he was a far leftist from the Iron Range and was the only member of Congress to vote against an arms embargo of Spain in 1937, which although was officially a neutral measure would benefit Franco more than the Communist rebels, since Mussolini and Hitler were giving military aid to him. Through his initial objection, however, Bernard had managed to stall the measure sufficiently long for a single ship of arms for the Loyalists to leave port for Spain.

While in Congress, he employed Abt’s sister, Marion Bachrach, as personal secretary and office manager. Bachrach was a member of the Ware Group. Bernard, however, was rather clear about his sympathies while in Congress, inserting articles from The Daily Worker, the CPUSA newspaper.  He did not last long in Congress, only serving in the 75th Congress before losing reelection in 1938 to the man he had defeated in 1936, Republican William Pittenger. Devastating for Bernard’s reelection prospects was opposition by the Catholic Church for his vote on the embargo as they supported Franco. He was subsequently blacklisted by employers all over the Iron Range and in 1942, unable to find work, he moved to Chicago and became an organizer for the United Electrical, Radio and Machine Workers of America, which was under the Congress of Industrial Organizations (CIO). Bernard was called to testify before the House Un-American Activities Committee in 1952, in which he defied the committee while proclaiming loyalty to the United States. In 1955, he became president of the Illinois branch of the Civil Rights Congress, which the following year was declared a communist front by the Subversive Activities Control Board (a federal government body that investigated communism) and disbanded that year. Bernard would not publicly admit to being a member of the Communist Party until 1977, when he officially accepted a membership card.

Hugh DeLacy

Image result for Hugh DeLacy

Hugh DeLacy (1910-1986) was active in Democratic Party politics and union organizing in Seattle and in 1937 was elected to its city council, by this time a secret member of the CPUSA. He subsequently was elected as President of the Washington Commonwealth Federation, a Communist-controlled pressure group within the Democratic Party. In 1944, he was elected to Congress from the Seattle based 1st Congressional District. In Congress, DeLacy staunchly supported the retention of price controls, opposed the creation of a permanent House Un-American Activities Committee, supported public housing, and opposed restrictive labor bills. However, similar to Bernard, he lost reelection in 1946 in a Republican wave as many believed (correctly so) that he was a communist.

In 1948, he co-founded the Washington State Progressive Party to support Henry Wallace’s bid for the presidency. In 1954, DeLacy was called before the House Un-American Activities Committee, invoking the Fifth Amendment when asked the famous question, “Are you now or have you ever been a member of the Communist Party?” He condemned the committee in his testimony, accusing it of “insisting that a citizen surrender his constitutional rights” (Los Angeles Times). In 1959 he moved to Los Angeles and retired from politics in 1967. In 1969 sought his Master’s Degree at the San Fernando Valley State College, where he joined the Society for the Philosophical Study of Dialectical Materialism. In 1971, he moved to Soquel, California with his third wife, where he lived the remainder of his life.

In 1983, Congressman Leon Panetta (D-Calif.) entered a tribute to him and his wife in the Congressional Record, reading “The causes to which they have dedicated their lives – peace, jobs, an end to race discrimination, a halt to the costly and dangerous arms race – are causes for which we are still working today” (Los Angeles Times).


Abt, J.J. & Myerson, M. (1993). Advocate and activist: Memoirs of an American Communist lawyer. Chicago, IL: University of Illinois Press.

Bernard, John Toussaint, 1893-1983. MNopedia.

Retrieved from

Hugh DeLacy, 76, Co-Founder of Progressive Party. (1986, August 22). Los Angeles Times.

Retrieved from

The Political Evolution of the States, Mapped Part III

The last post I wrote was a little break from this series, but now its back. Today’s states are California, Maine, Minnesota, West Virginia, and Wisconsin.


California MC-Index

California, as we can see, used to be a state that was much more moderate than now and even had a Republican lean in the 1950s. Indeed, some highly influential Republican presidents such as Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan were from California and from 1952 to 1988 the state only voted for the Democratic presidential candidate once. This is what makes the following finding rather surprising, and that is that California’s scores were better than I thought they would be in the 1990s. During the Clinton years the state only slightly leaned Democrat and average MC-Index scores were lower when Ronald Reagan first ran for governor in 1966. Indeed, the 1930s, 1960s, and 1970s were all worse than the 1990s for conservatism in the state. The decline of the Republican Party truly began in the Bush years and has accelerated since. While it is possible for the Republicans to win back some House seats in 2020 since Democrats got shockingly good results in the state in 2018, California has become a staunchly liberal behemoth. Its current score is nine points lower than its very lowest from 1933 to 2000.

MC-Index Average for Current Congress Thus Far: 14


Maine MC-Index

Maine at one time was one of the Republican strongholds of the nation. The state was one of only two to never vote for FDR and elected opponents of the New Deal to the Senate. However, during the 1950s the state’s conservatism began to show cracks as Democratic Party power started to rise with the election of Governor Ed Muskie in 1954 and in 1958 he defeated Republican incumbent Frederick Payne by over 20 points. From this point forward the state’s MC-Index score never rises above a 49. Although Maine has seen some promise for Republicans lately given Trump’s winning of the 2nd district in 2016, the state still leans Democrat and the Republicans they prefer tend to be on the moderate side, thus the state’s delegation on balance remains liberal.

MC-Index Average for Current Congress Thus Far: 19


Minnesota MC-Index

The Democratic Party had for a long time been a weak force in the state: in 1932 FDR was the first Democrat to ever win Minnesota’s vote in a presidential election. Despite this victory, institutionally the Democratic Party remained weak for some time including in St. Paul and Minneapolis. The primary outlet to challenge the Republican Party was the Farmer-Labor Party, which had enjoyed some significant successes in the state. However, the backlash to the New Deal as well as to FDR’s interventionist policies was observable in the state from 1939 until the 1948 election, when Democrats gained three House seats and Senator Hubert Humphrey. The difference here was that World War II had ended and most critically, the Democratic Party merged with the Farmer-Labor Party, the latter previously resisting such a merger due to non-interventionist politics. With the Democrats and Farmer-Labors unified as a political force, the average MC-Index score never went above a 48 after the 80th Congress. Although given the 2016 election Minnesota looks far more promising than it used to be, the last midterms saw four Congressional flips, with the rural 1st and 8th electing Republicans with the suburban 2nd and 3rd electing Democrats. If the Republicans hope to win the state in 2020, they’d better hope the former development is long-term while the latter is temporary.

MC-Index Average for Current Congress Thus Far: 33

West Virginia

West Virginia MC-Index

West Virginia is clearly a much different state from 1933 to 2001 than now. The 1932 election happened to start a long era in which Democrats were dominant but it wasn’t solidified until the 1948 election, when the Democrats made a clean sweep of the state’s Congressional delegation. The Republican presence in the state was quite low: from 1949 to 2001, only four individuals served as Republicans in the House from West Virginia, and only two individuals served, briefly, as Senate Republicans from the state. On the presidential level, the state voted only three times for president from 1933 until George W. Bush’s victory in 2000. In 1996, Bob Dole lost in all but 12 counties but in 2012 and 2016, the Republican candidate won every county. Democratic dominance persisted until the 2014 election on the Congressional level. Now national Democratic politics are radioactive in the state, a scenario which at one time in living memory was unthinkable.

MC-Index Average for Current Congress Thus Far: 68


Wisconsin MC-Index

Wisconsin underwent several periods of political development. There was the dominance of the Progressive Party during the first six years of the Roosevelt Administration followed by a conservative resurgence that was especially strong from 1939 to 1942, amplified by the state being strongly non-interventionist. Republicans are a dominant force in the state until shortly after the death of Senator Joseph McCarthy (R-Wis.) in 1957. Conservatism, however, really suffered a decline in the state in the 1970s with a minor resurgence during the Reagan years. The exceedingly high scores in the 1940s can be attributed to the Milwaukee region still voting Republican but since the 1950s it has been safe Democratic territory. Today Wisconsin seems about back in the 1950s in the average conservatism of its lawmakers, with Democrats holding three of eight House seats and one of the Senate seats.

MC-Index Average for Current Congress Thus Far: 57

The Senator Who Felt the Fury of a Woman Scorned

Arthur Brown

Arthur Brown was not a particularly notable senator as he only served for little more than a year save for two facts about him. First, he was one of Utah’s first two senators, and second, he is the only senator to be murdered by his mistress.

Brown was married twice in his life, the first ending due to his unfaithfulness, with the first wife even trying to shoot the would-be second one and threatening to shoot him as well. In 1876, he left his home state of Michigan to avoid continuing scandal and settled with his second wife, Isabel Cameron, as well as a son. Despite not being a Mormon, Brown was known for advocating for them and thus was politically well positioned to be elected one of Utah’s first senators. In 1896, while a senator, he met Anna Maddison Bradley at the Republican National Convention in St. Louis and the two began taking an interest in each other. By 1898, Bradley and her husband Clarence had separated and by 1899 she and Brown had begun their affair. However, Isabel Cameron was not giving up her husband without a fight. On four occasions, she had the pair jailed for adultery and on one occasion even tried to strangle Anna in a fit of rage.

Image result for Anna Bradley mistress Arthur Brown"

Anna Bradley

At this point, Brown chose to reconcile with Isabel but simultaneously kept leading on Anna Bradley about marriage and claimed this reconciliation was so he could stop going to jail. This affair also produced two children, multiple miscarriages, and a few abortions. The last one was supposedly performed by Brown himself and resulted in her hospitalization for a lacerated cervix. By 1903, he and Isabel were divorced but he refused to pay alimony (about $4000 a month in today’s dollars), which resulted in his imprisonment until he paid all he owed. In 1905, Isabel died of cancer and at this point Anna was expecting the former senator to marry her. Brown instead chose to take on yet another mistress, Annie Adams Kiskadden, with whom he wrote letters discussing marriage. To make matters worse, in 1906 he disinherited Anna as well as their two children. She wrote on the subject, “I can do nothing but think –yet there is no thought in it. There is a sensation of a whirligig going incessantly — and the din of it is maddening” (Gribben). Anna then hired a detective to tail Brown, who was staying at the Raleigh Hotel in Washington D.C. to argue a case before the Supreme Court. She promptly set out for the place and when she confronted him on December 8, 1906, she described what transpired after: “I asked him if he was going to do the right thing by me. His reply was to put on his coat and start to leave the room. I shot him. I abhor acts of this character, but in this case it was fully justified” (Gribben). Brown died four days later from his wounds at the age of 63. Although Anna Bradley was tried for his murder, her defense counsel succeeded in proving that not only was Brown the father of her two children but also repeatedly led her on with promises of marriage and recognition of her two children. Three witnesses testified that he dictated the following statement, “I say to you that I will make Mrs. Brown get a divorce, and if she does not do it, I will myself get one. I will marry Mrs. Bradley; I will stand by her as long as I live” (Gribben). The jury came to deeply sympathize with her as she had been led on by him for years and ultimately acquitted her on grounds of temporary insanity, resulting in an outburst of cheers and applause in the courtroom.

In 1697, the English playwright and poet William Congreve wrote in his play The Mourning Bride, “Heav’n has no Rage, like Love to Hatred turn’d, Nor Hell a Fury, like a Woman scorn’d”. Arthur Brown had almost certainly been acquainted with this phrase or the more commonly known “Hell has no fury like a woman scorned” at some point in his life, yet his poor moral character on matters of relationships precluded his heeding this wisdom. This was despite coming close to being killed by his first wife for adultery, getting arrested four times for adultery at the behest of his second wife, and Anna Bradley herself knocking some of his teeth out with an umbrella in a fight that appears to have been started by his drinking. Hal Schindler of the Salt Lake Tribune wrote of him, “Those who knew him said he was born with keen intellect, but that he had no sense of moral obligation. And he held grudges…and was a good hater” (Bagley).  Anna Bradley went on to run an antiques store in Salt Lake City until her death in 1950 at 77, but the story isn’t necessarily a happy one for her family. In March 1915, one of her children from Brown, Arthur Jr., stabbed his older half-brother Matthew to death in a dispute over…who was going to do the dishes.


Bagley, P. (2012, January 27). Living History: Fed up with onetime senator from Utah, mistress shot him dead. The Salt Lake Tribune.

Retrieved from

Gribben, M. The Senator Signs His Death Warrant. The Malefactor’s Register.

Retrieved from

The Political Evolution of the States, Mapped Part II

This is the second part of my series in which you can see just how tremendous change was from the start of the New Deal to the end of the 20th Century. Covered today are Rhode Island, Connecticut, Virginia, Kansas, and Nebraska.

Rhode Island

Rhode Island MC-Index


As I have covered in my series on How the Northeast Became Democratic, Rhode Island was the very first state in the region to shift. In the first four years of the Roosevelt Administration, Republicans still have a presence and one of its senators, Republican Jesse Metcalf, even voted against Social Security. He was defeated for reelection in 1936 by Theodore Green, the harbinger of Democratic domination of the state. As can be seen here, by 1941 conservatism is a spent force in the state and after anti-New Deal Democratic Senator Peter Gerry left office in 1947 the state’s conservatism dramatically plummeted even further. Although the Republican Party saw modest successes starting in 1976, they were electing moderate to liberal politicians such as John Chafee. Even these are now gone, and the last Republican to hold federal elected office from Rhode Island left in 2007.

MC-Index Average for Current Congress Thus Far: 4


Connecticut MC-Index

Connecticut you can see is highly competitive from 1933 to 1959, with Democrats and Republicans competing for power, but after the 1958 midterm election, the average score never rises above a 32. The 1990s may seem a little high, but moderate Republicans still had a significant presence in the state. Today, however, this is not so: the last Republican to hold office from Connecticut left in 2009.

MC-Index Average for Current Congress Thus Far: 2


Virginia MC-Index

Virginia ideologically is the inverse of Rhode Island: it was the first state in the former Confederacy to shift in a conservative direction. As early as the 74th Congress (1935-37) the average score of its elected officials is 51. A significant part of this is the state’s two senators, Harry Byrd and Carter Glass, who came out frequently against the New Deal. They were complemented by Representatives Willis Robertson and Howard W. Smith, the latter who would become the notoriously obstructionist chair of the House Rules Committee. Virginia had also shown a greater willingness to vote for Republican presidential candidates: from 1952 to 2004 the Democratic candidate won the state only once, in 1964. The state didn’t fall below a 72 from 1953 to 1987 since the Republicans and many of the Democrats were conservative. The downward slope from this point can be attributed to the Democrats beginning to serve as real ideological opposition to the Republicans. Sadly for Republicans, they at this point probably wish Virginia scored a 52. The state now, no kidding, is the least conservative it has been since FDR’s First 100 Days. Unlike in 1976, when they were the only Dixie state to vote for a Republican president, in 2016 they were the only Dixie state not to do so.

MC-Index Average for Current Congress Thus Far: 32


Kansas MC-Index

Ah, good old Kansas: the land of Topeka, Toto, and tornadoes. Although Kansas has some independence on the state level (as do many of the states when electing governors), on the federal level it has proven a most challenging state for Democrats. The state also has the longest consecutive run of Republican senators: the last Democrat lost reelection by over 12 points in 1938. The only time the state scored below a 50 on conservatism in this period was in the 74th Congress (1935-37), when the state had a Democratic senator and a Republican senator who was willing to vote for quite a bit of the New Deal. Yes, its true, the state once had an occasional taste for Democrats and big government! Although the state kind of looks like a barren wasteland for Democrats, splits in the state Republican Party have helped keep a House seat or two in play for them at times. Also, for almost a thirty year period the state had a conservative (Bob Dole) and a moderate (James Pearson and Nancy Kassebaum) senator, blunting its otherwise conservative edge. However, this may be of cold comfort to Democrats on the presidential level: from 1940 to present the state has voted Democrat once.

MC-Index Average for Current Congress Thus Far: 72


Nebraska MC-Index

Both Kansas and Nebraska have been rather tough nuts for Democrats to crack, but the latter has definitely been the easier one. Although its recent presidential record isn’t better for Democrats, their ability to elect people to Congress is. In fact, during the first half of the Clinton Administration, both its senators were Democrats, and one of them was a liberal. Nebraska starts the Great Depression as the state of George W. Norris, one of the giants of Republican progressivism. Norris actively collaborated with FDR in enacting the New Deal and even shedded his old non-interventionist attitude in support of FDR’s interventionist perspective, a rarity among the old Republican progressives. However, like with Kansas, 1938 is a bad election year for the prospects of progressives in the state. Additionally, its other senator is Democrat Edward Burke, who had turned against the New Deal. By 1943, both its senators are conservative Republicans: Norris had lost reelection in 1942 to Kenneth Wherry, who was about ideologically equivalent to today’s Ben Sasse.

The state voted conservative for a long time, with both its senators from 1955 to 1976 being the ultra-conservative Roman Hruska and Carl Curtis. However, in the 1970s Democrats started to regain some ground: in 1976 and 1978 the retiring Hruska and Curtis were succeeded by Democrats Ed Zorinsky and Jim Exon. From 1991 to 1995, the state even falls below 50 in its score, given one of its senators now is a liberal (Bob Kerrey) and Omaha’s representative is a Democrat. However, Republicans have regained their dominance of the state on the Congressional level since.

MC-Index Average for Current Congress Thus Far: 84