Growing Trend: Lawmakers Increasingly Switching Political Parties

( – After the Civil Rights movement, the Republican Party appealed to Southern Democrats who were upset about the direction of their party. Many of those Dems switched parties as a result. The political realignment became known as the Southern Strategy. Decades later, it looks like there could be another shift happening.

In March, Louisiana Rep. Francis Thompson switched from the Democratic Party to the Republican Party. The move gave the GOP a supermajority in the state legislature, meaning they could overturn the governor’s vetoes (which they have done since then). Weeks later, State Rep. Jeremy LaCombe also switched parties, shedding the “D” behind his name and gaining an “R.”

In April, North Carolina Rep. Tricia Cotham left the Democratic Party and became a Republican. Her move gave the GOP a veto-proof majority in the state House. She claimed she could no longer support the party that helped her get elected in the Blue district because she believed her principles were best served in the Republican Party.

That same month, West Virginia Rep. Elliott Pritt left the Democratic Party as well. His district was once solidly Blue, but he claimed it was shifting due to environmental regulations and the loss of coal industry jobs.

In total, 10 state lawmakers switched parties in the first eight months of 2023. Republicans saw the most benefit from the shifts. William Galston, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institute, told POLITICO that the number of swing states in the country has been dramatically reduced. He said that when those shifts happen, “minority parties lose power […] and the advantages of being in the majority increase.”

Since 1994, there have been 173 party switches at the state level. Of those switches, only 23 Republicans became members of the Democratic Party. The vast majority of the switches (83) were Democrats who were becoming Republicans.

Whether the lawmakers who recently switched sides can hold onto their seats in the next election is up in the air.

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