This section allows the user to discover the extent to which groups of voters supported one party or the other and the strength of that commitment.
It features a measure of “party loyalty” that summarizes the consistency of a group’s support for the candidates of one party across the offices being chosen. It is somewhat akin to the measures used today to gauge the strength of “party identification.” The difference is that “party loyalty” comes from what voters actually did – how they voted – rather than “party identification” which arises from what voters say in a survey about the strength of their attachment to a political party. Our voters are all dead: they cannot be surveyed but what they did can be studied from the individual level political information uniquely preserved in the poll books created by viva voce (by voice) elections.
Each individual’s voting record appears as a result in other sections of the website: this section brings together the voting records for a chosen group of voters. The results are arrayed by age but include all voters: 1,406 in Alexandria and 2,262 in Newport.
In both cities voters were choosing many officials: five at the state level in Alexandria on May 26, 1859 and eleven at the city level in Newport on March 2, 1874. All of the Alexandria and nine of the Newport elections were contested; this information is used here to measure each voter’s commitment to his party.
The offices in the 1859 Alexandria elections were Representative in the US Congress for the 7th District of Virginia, member of the Virginia House of Delegates, and the Governor, Lieutenant Governor and Attorney General of Virginia.
For Newport, the nine contested city-wide offices were President of City Council, City Clerk, City Attorney, City Jailor, City Physician, Market Master, Wharf Master, Commissioner of Weights and Measures, and Street Commissioner.
The most party-committed voted for all candidates of that party; the least committed choose some candidates from one party and others from the other. And there were intermediate stages of loyalty.
In Alexandria, party loyalty is divided into five categories:
· Straight Opposition Ticket: voters who called out in these viva voce elections the official Opposition party candidate in each of the 5 contests
· Opposition: voters who skipped voting for an office or voted for a third party candidate but do not vote for any official Democratic candidates: they “leaned” to the Opposition Party,
· Split ticket: voters who called out at least one official candidate of both Opposition and Democratic parties
· Democratic: voters who skipped voting for an office or voted for a third party candidate but do not vote for any official Opposition candidates: they “leaned” to the Democratic Party
· Straight Democrat Ticket: voters who called out in these viva voce elections the official Democratic party candidate in each of the 5 contests
The overall results for all voters confirm Alexandria as basically a Whig/Opposition town: 47% of participants (659 of 1406) voted for all the Opposition candidates; only 2 percent voted for the complete cast of Democratic Party candidates; 11% “leaned” Opposition, 13 percent “leaned” Democratic and a surprising 27% split their ticket.
In Newport, with a larger number of offices, party loyalty is divided into seven categories:
· Straight Republican Ticket: voters who called out the official Republican Party candidate in each of the 9 viva voce contests
· Republican Ticket: voters who skipped voting for an office or supported a third party candidate but do not vote for any official candidates of the Democratic Party and so “leaned” to the Republican Party
· Mostly Republican: voters who supported official Republican candidates in 7 or more of the 9 contests and so “leaned” to the Republican Party
· Split ticket: voters who supported 6 or fewer of the official candidates of either the Republican and Democratic parties
· Mostly Democratic: voters who supported official Democratic candidates in 7 or more of the 9 contests and so “leaned” to the Democratic Party
· Democratic Ticket: voters who skipped voting for an office or supported a third party candidate but do not vote for any official candidates of the Republican Party and so “leaned” to the Democratic Party
· Straight Democratic Ticket: voters who called out the official Democratic Party candidate in each of the 9 viva voce contests
The aggregate results show that Newport was more evenly divided than Alexandria: 9 percent named all Republican candidates, 3 percent skipped some offices but did not vote for any Democrats, 29 percent called Republican candidates for 7 or more of the 9 contested offices, 17 percent voted a split ticket, 22 percent called the names of Democratic candidates for 7 or more of the 9 contested offices, 3 percent skipped some offices but did not vote for any official candidates of the Republican Party, and 18 percent voted for a complete Democratic slate.
Comparing the two cities: in Alexandria 58 percent of voters were allied with the Opposition Party and 15 percent were Democrats while in Newport 41 percent of voters were Republicans and 45 percent were Democrats.