Wednesday, January 22, 2020

Can Democrats Extend Their 2018 State Government Trifectas?

Nationally, Democrats lost a lot of ground in statehouses under Barack Obama’s presidency, with about 1,000 legislative seats across the nation flipping to Republican control from 2009 through the 2016 election.

After the 2016 election, Republicans controlled a record 67 (68%) of the 98 partisan state legislative chambers in the nation — 36 senate chambers and 31 house chambers — more than twice the number (31) in which Democrats had majority control, according to the bipartisan National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL).

During 2017 and 2018, Republicans held more total state legislative seats in the nation, well over 4,100 of the 7,383, than they have since 1920. Democrats held total control of just 13 state legislatures. Republicans held state government trifectas — where one political party holds the governorship, a majority in the state senate, and a majority in the state house — in 26 states, and Democrats held trifectas in only 8 states, with divided partisan control in the remaining 16 states.

From 2009 through the 2016 election, Republicans had gained control of the gubernatorial office in 33 states, a record high last seen in 1922, and flipped 69 Democratic seats in the U.S. House seats to Republican control, and flipped 13 Democratic seats in the U.S. Senate to Republican control.

In the 2018 midterms, Democrats started to get some of it back — but the party still has a lot catching up to do in 2020.
States With Unified Party Control After 2018 Election

Across the nation Democrats reclaimed at least 336 state legislative seats lost during Barack Obama’s presidency. Six state legislative chambers flipped to Democratic control with the 2018 midterm election, and one flipped to GOP control. With the six Democratic pickups (4 senate chambers and 2 house chambers), and the GOP capturing one house chamber in 2018, Republicans were left with control of a total of 62 state legislative chambers (32 senate, 30 house), and Democrats control 37 state legislative chambers (18 senate, 19 house).

Democrats emerged from the 2018 midterm election with a net gain in state government trifectas, but Republicans still retain a net advantage of at least eight trifectas over Democrats. With the Georgia gubernatorial race called for the Republican Candidate, the new trifecta count stands at 14 Democratic, 23 Republican, 13 divided. The 37 total trifectas ties with 2013 and 2014 as being the most trifectas in recent history.

In addition, Democrats gained enough seats to deprive Republicans of supermajorities in Michigan, North Carolina and Pennsylvania. This will keep Republicans from having enough votes to override the vetoes of Democratic governors of those states. Democrats achieved supermajorities for themselves in seven chambers.

The 2018 midterm election set a record for the number of single-party-controlled legislatures. When the new legislators take their seats in 2019, Minnesota is the only state in the nation where the legislature is divided — the Senate remains in Republican control, and the House flipped to Democratic control. Minnesota Democrats fell one seat short of flipping the state senate. Last time there was only one divided state legislature was over 100 years ago in 1914.

A majority of the governors holding veto power over redistricting in 2021 are now Democrats. Moreover, in most states where Democrats won control of a legislative chamber in 2018, the legislature has a role in the congressional redistricting process — although Colorado voters took this power away from the legislature via the initiative process.

In short, Republican losses in state legislatures were typical for a midterm election, but these losses could translate into larger losses for the party in the future.

In the 2018 midterm elections, state legislative pickups include:
  • In New Hampshire, both the House and Senate flipped from Republican to Democratic control. This ended the Republican state government trifecta (where one party controls both chambers of the legislature and the governor’s office). Incumbent GOP. Gov. Chris Sununu (R) was re-elected.
  • In New York, the Senate flipped from Republican to Democratic control. This gave Democrats a trifecta, as they retained control of the House and the Democratic governor, Andrew Cuomo, won reelection. This is one of five trifectas Democrats won in 2018.
  • Colorado Democrats took control of the Senate, flipping the state from divided power to trifecta control for Democrats.
  • Maine Democrats won control of the Senate and the governor’s office, assuming trifecta control. Democrats retained control of the state House.
  • Republicans took control of the Alaska House, retained control of the state Senate, and won the governor’s office that is currently held by an independent. This gives the Alaska GOP trifecta control.[1]
  • Minnesota replaced one Democratic governor with another, and the House changed from Republican to Democratic control. But the Senate remained in GOP hands.
The 2018 elections left Republicans with total control of 30 state legislatures — both the House and Senate — compared to just 18 by Democrats. Just two states, Minnesota and Alaska, have split chambers…The Democratic Party and DLCC flipped eight state chambers in 2018 and broke Republican supermajorities in three other states.
  • Arizona: Democrats are two seats away from taking a majority in the state House and three seats away from a majority in the Senate.
  • Florida: Democrats are 14 seats away from a majority in the state House.
  • Georgia: Democrats are 28 seats away from taking a majority in the state House, but they’re hoping to gain seats in 2020.
  • Iowa: Democrats are four seats away from a majority in the Iowa state House.
  • Kansas: Democrats are trying to break Republican supermajorities in both chambers; Democrat Laura Kelly won the governor’s seat in 2018.
  • Michigan: Democrats broke a Republican supermajority in the state Senate in 2018 and are four seats away from flipping the chamber.
  • Minnesota: Democrats are two seats away from a majority in the state Senate. They won control of the state House in 2018.
  • North Carolina: Democrats are six seats away from taking control of the state House.
  • Pennsylvania: Democrats broke a Republican supermajority in the state Senate in 2018. They are 9 seats away from a majority in the state House, and four seats away from a majority in the state Senate.
  • Texas: Democrats are nine seats away from a majority in the Texas state House.
  • Virginia: Democrats were two seats away from a majority in the state House of Delegates, and two seats away from a majority in the state Senate as well after the 2018 election. (Democrats took trifecta control of the state in November 2019).
  • Wisconsin: Democrats are three seats away from a majority in the Wisconsin state Senate.
Democrats flipped Virginia’s House and Senate on election day, Nov. 5, 2019, giving the party a trifecta — control of both state legislative chambers and the governorship — for the first time since 1993. Farther west, Kentucky Attorney General Andy Beshear’s win over incumbent Republican Gov. Matt Bevin in the 2019 election meant Republicans lost their trifecta control in the state. The following week, Gov. John Bel Edwards was reelected in Louisiana, stopping Republicans from gaining a new trifecta there.

At Sabato’s Crystal Ball, Kyle Kondik reports that going into the 2020 election year, “Republicans retain a narrow 26-24 edge in governorships…But that’s a big shift from mid-2017, when Democrats held just 15.”

According to Ballotpedia, “There are currently 36 trifectas: 15 Democratic and 21 Republican. Democrats would have to pick up trifecta control in three states in 2020 to match the Republican total. Click here for an inter-active map depicting trifecta control by state.

Ballottpedia reports also that, “As of December 31, 2019, Republicans controlled 52.1 percent of all state legislative seats nationally, while Democrats held 46.6 percent. Republicans held a majority in 61 chambers, and Democrats held the majority in 37 chambers. One chamber (Alaska House) was sharing power between two parties.”

The 16 states with “divided government” include: AK; DE; KS; KY; LA; MA; MI; MN; MT; MD; NJ; NC; NH; PA; VT; and WI. Dems now hope the edge provided by a presidential election will provide a pivotal boost to their candidates for Governor and state legislative seats in November. In a ‘blue wave’ election, it’s not hard to see how Dems could get a net trifecta pick-up of 3 or 4 states.

Democrats now hold the Secretary of State offices, which count the votes in elections, in 22 states. Three states, Alaska, Hawaii and Utah have no such office, and assign vote counting duties to the Lieutenant Governor’s office. Since 2018, Democrats have held the SOS offices in swing states AZ; CO; MI; NJ; PA; WI.

No comments:

Post a Comment