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DLCC 2016 Election Analysis

Press Releases


TO:               Interested Parties
FROM:         Jessica Post, DLCC Executive Director
RE:               2016 Down-ballot Democratic Analysis Memo
DATE:          November 16, 2016

The 2016 elections were challenging for Democrats everywhere. As a result of this year’s surprisingly strong GOP performance, Republican power has expanded substantially at some levels of American government – but Democratic power expanded in state legislatures. Democratic power in statehouses will, on the whole, expand as a result of this year’s elections.

While Democrats running for state legislative office fell short of this cycle’s high expectations, Democratic power in state legislatures actually increased. While Republicans gained majorities in just three legislative chambers, Democrats won majorities in at least four. Additionally, Democrats expanded our majorities and added seats in a number of states.

  • Democrats ended Republican majority control of at least four legislative chambers:
    • Nevada Assembly,

    • Nevada Senate,

    • New Mexico House, and

    • Alaska House.

  • Republicans flipped Democratic majorities in:
    • Iowa Senate,

    • Kentucky House, and

    • Minnesota Senate.

The new Democratic majorities in Nevada will end GOP trifecta control of state government, empowering Democrats to fight for progressive priorities like education funding and other policies that fell victim to GOP obstructionism over the past two years of Republican control, including raising the state’s minimum wage and implementing paid family leave. Additionally, with Aaron Ford becoming Senate Majority Leader and the Democratic Caucus’s election of Jason Frierson as House Speaker, African American leaders hold two of the most powerful positions in Nevada government.

Winning a Democratic majority in the New Mexico House and expanding our majority in the state Senate clearly establishes a mandate for progressive solutions to the state budget crisis. Destructive GOP policies and Republican obstructionism have left the state with a $50 million budget hole, and the next legislative session will likely be dominated by budget cuts and revenue bills.

  • Democrats expanded majorities in several chambers, including:
    • California Assembly (+3)
    • Colorado House (+3)
    • Hawaii House (+1)
    • New Mexico Senate (+2)
    • Rhode Island House (+2)
    • Rhode Island Senate (+1)
    • Vermont Senate (+2)
    • Washington House (+2)
  • Democrats picked up seats in:
    • Arizona House(+2)
    • Arizona Senate (+1)
    • Florida House (+3)
    • Florida Senate (+1)
    • Georgia House (+1)
    • Georgia Senate (+1)
    • Indiana House (+1)
    • Kansas House (+12)
    • Kansas Senate (+1)
    • Maine Senate (+2)
    • Michigan House (+2)
    • Missouri House (+1)
    • New Hampshire House (+17)
    • North Carolina House (+1)
    • Texas House (+6)
    • Utah House (+3)
    • Washington Senate (+1)
    • West Virginia House of Delegates (+1)
  • Additionally, Democrats now hold 100 percent of the seats in the Hawaii Senate and retained crucial majorities in chambers elsewhere:
    • California Senate
    • Connecticut House
    • Connecticut Senate
    • Delaware House
    • Delaware Senate
    • Illinois House
    • Illinois Senate
    • Maine House
    • Maryland House*
    • Maryland Senate*
    • Massachusetts House
    • Massachusetts Senate
    • New Jersey House*
    • New Jersey Senate*
    • Oregon House
    • Oregon Senate
    • Vermont House

* Maryland and New Jersey will hold their next legislative elections in 2018 and 2017, respectively.

  • Additionally, Democrats now hold 100 percent of the seats in the Hawaii Senate and retained crucial majorities in chambers elsewhere:
    • Electing at least 89 Latina lawmakers across 24 states, including the first-ever Latina to serve in the Georgia legislature
    • Electing 228 Hispanic legislators nationwide
    • Electing the nation’s first Somali-American lawmaker (Minnesota)
    • Electing over 40 Native American lawmakers, many for the first time, in 15 states

DLCC’s investments and strategies in these down-ballot races empowered many of our candidates to overcome the challenges presented by this unique election cycle.
Democrats raised more money in the 2016 cycle than ever before, facilitating high-quality training of caucus and campaign staff that resulted in quality candidate recruitment, strong in-state fundraising efforts, and skillfully-executed campaigns nationwide.
DLCC made major early investments in our Grassroots Victory Program, DLCC’s national field operation that arms in-state organizers with the skills, training, and technology needed to run winning grassroots outreach campaigns. GVP operated in 21 states in 2016, with over 400 GVP-trained organizers accounting for over 13 million contacts in key legislative races.
The fight to build Democratic power in statehouses nationwide continues. Our nation’s forward progress depends on thwarting the ultra-conservative agenda pushed by GOP lawmakers across the country. Democratic lawmakers everywhere continue the fight against Republican policies to suppress voting, deny equal rights, oppress LGBT Americans, restrict choice, and undermine the economic security of hardworking families. Democratic legislators champion progress, equal rights for all, and the middle-class values that make America great. These battles endure in statehouses nationwide because Americans deserve better.