This November, eyes will be trained on state legislative races across the country as Democrats fight to regain statehouse majorities. With Donald Trump’s toxicity at the top of the Republican ticket pervading down-ballot, a DLCC memo shows at least 14 state House or Senate chambers well within reach this cycle and beyond.
“Over the past few years, major donors, national Democrats, the White House and state officials have begun organizing to win back state houses that have been dominated by Republicans since 2010.
And even as the presidential race tightens nationally, Democrats are increasingly confident the party will be able flip a significant number of state legislative chambers, riding a wave of disgust with GOP nominee Donald Trump. At least 14 state House or Senate chambers are well within reach, according to a Democratic memo circulated this week.
Presidential election years are better for Democrats, as the party’s voters tend to sit out midterm cycles, when Republicans rack up big wins down-ballot at the state level. And 2014, with ISIS sweeping across the Middle East and the country panic-stricken over Ebola, was a particularly bad year for Democrats, meaning a sizable number of blue seats are now in Republican hands, ripe for retaking.
As Congress has become snarled in dysfunction, power has shifted laterally to the White House and the Supreme Court, and has devolved downward to states. Republicans have made major gains there, and have enacted an often-times extreme conservative agenda that voters are now reacting against. (In Kansas and Louisiana in particular, where the most extreme experiments played out, the states have become utter basket cases ― so much so that Louisiana recently elected a Democratic governor.)
State-level races are also gaining importance with the approach of 2020, when elections will determine who draws future district lines based on the next census. In 2010, the tea party wave delivered most of the country’s state legislatures to Republicans, who used the wins to gerrymander state-level and congressional districts. Those districts mean it’s much more difficult for Democrats to take back the U.S. House. In 2012, for instance, more people voted for Democratic congressional candidates than Republican ones, but Republicans still comfortably control the House.
The Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee, which coordinates state-level efforts, sees prime opportunities in the following 14 states. At the same time, Democrats are playing defense in some places, in danger of losing their control of the Kentucky House and the Iowa Senate.”