Ticket splitting (the practice of voting for both major parties) has been on the decline for a while. This has been measured in split-ticket House districts, which hit a near all-time low in 2012 and stayed under 1 in 10 districts in 2016. This picture shows by party, which I feel shows it by race in a way because nonwhites in general are overwhelmingly Democratic.

By party


I feel that at least part of the party gap was driven by race because Pew data showed that about 55% of Democratic voters are white and 85% of Republican voters are white. Also, heavily white New England states had split tickets despite the Senate races not even being close for governor.

Are nonwhite Democratic voters in particular unlikely to engage in this practice? My analysis of precinct-level data suggests the answer is yes but I want to see a survey and/or in depth analysis.

  • 2
    There doesn't appear to be a particularly significant difference between democrats and republicans in this figure. It looks like the differences would be within the error margin.
    – Roland
    Commented Oct 22, 2020 at 14:11
  • @Roland - As usual, statistics entirely depends on the English used to frame it. In this case I suspect the framing in the asker's mind that arose the question isn't the relatively small difference in straight line votes, it's a rather great 50% difference (8% vs 12%) in ticket splitters. In other words, if we theoretically assume you have 100M Rs and 100M Ds, you would have 8M Dem ticket splitters vs. staggeringly larger 12M R ticket splitters. The question seems to ask the 4M difference. One variable that would change the answer is margin of error - if it's 4%, you can blame that :)
    – user4012
    Commented Oct 22, 2020 at 14:31
  • @user4012 There is no link to the study so I can't check. I find it unlikely that the 4 % difference between 8 and 12 % (both with an associated uncertainty) would be statistically significant unless they surveyed an unusually large number of voters.
    – Roland
    Commented Oct 22, 2020 at 14:40
  • Bear in mind that ticket splitting is partly a function of voting mechanisms. With old-fashioned mechanical voting machines there were typically levers for straight party voting, and it took some effort to split your ticket. Some newer ballot schemes still do this but many don't.
    – Hot Licks
    Commented Mar 22, 2021 at 22:26

1 Answer 1


The data from the 2016 wave of the Cooperative Congressional Election Study shows that the group which exhibited perhaps the most uncommon ticket-splitting behavior was non-white Republicans, with 31.1% voting for a split ticket, compared to 22.2% of white Republicans, 21.8% of non-white Democrats, and 23.6% of white Democrats. As one might expect, independent voters were the most likely to vote for a split ticket, with 45.3% of non-white independent respondents voting for a split ticket compared to 40.6% of white independent respondents.

Non-white Democrats were, therefore, less likely to vote for a split ticket than white Democrats - but not by much. However, when we compare this to the differences between white respondents & non-white respondents among Republican and independent respondents, both groups were significantly more likely to vote for a split ticket - indicating that this is perhaps quite notable.

enter image description here Red: Straight Republican ticket - Blue: Straight Democratic ticket - Purple: Split ticket

I identified a ticket-splitter as a voter who - given the option - did not vote for either a straight Republican ticket or a straight Democratic ticket for President, Senate, House, and other state offices. Unfortunately, as the CCES doesn't record which party participants voted for in other state offices, I'm unable to give the breakdown for those who voted for a straight third-party ticket. Party affiliation is determined by voter registration, race from self-identification.

  • Who is considered white here? Latino, Persian, North African, Oriental, or was it self-identify as white/non-white?
    – paulj
    Commented Oct 22, 2020 at 15:32
  • 1
    @paulj self-identification - the categories were White, Black, Hispanic, Asian, Native American, Middle Eastern, Mixed, Other.
    – CDJB
    Commented Oct 22, 2020 at 15:34

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .