Before the 1932 election, there was hardly a Democrat in the Washington state legislature. One Democrat in the senate in 1929, eight in the house (compared to 89 Republicans). Everything chanted in 1932 when the landslide went to the Democrats.
By 1935 (after the entire Senate has seen an election since 1932), the partisan split in the legislature was 37 to 9 Dems over Republicans in the senate and 91 to 8 in the house.
This isn’t a new story in Washington State history, but one that bears investigating.
I’m mostly interested in this political flip because of my interest in Smith Troy. His political life began in the early 1930s. His brother’s election as Thurston County prosecutor began with this Democratic wave.
One of the things I’ve read about the difference between 1928 and 1932 was voter turnout. Prior to 1932, Washington (as the story goes) was a politically ambivalent state. Its long history as a territory when leaders were appointed, not elected, led to a political culture in which most people stayed home. Our live and let live attitude extended to politics.
But, apparently, that all changed in 1932. People who did not vote in 1928 stormed the polls in 1932 in reaction to Republicans not handling the dire economic times well (both back east and at the state capitol),.
But, I’m not so sure its that, or if the vast majority of voters actually changed their votes to Democratic.
I’m not able to find some actual voter turnout data between 1928 and 1932, but I was able to figure out a raw voters per thousand number. They were 32.29 percent in 1928 and 38.81 percent in 1932. So, a bump of roughly 6.5 percent. I’d assume most of those 100,000 plus new voters went Democratic.
But, there also seems to be an erosion of traditional Republican voters between those four years. Republican votes declined by over 100,000 between the two elections, despite a modest increase in the state’s population.
So, it was probably a combination of factors, including a wave a new voters. Anyway, just thinking out loud.