“It was a huge night for state Republicans”
Over at the Federalist, Joy Pullmann asks, “We’re Supposed To Believe The GOP Had A Great Election Night Except For President?“. It’s a good question because the Democrats expected a “blue wave” repudiation not only of President Trump but of the entire Republican party all the way down the ticket. It didn’t happen, and it didn’t happen bigly.
Indeed, the GOP made unexpectedly large gains in the House, so much so that there’s speculation they are within range of obtaining the majority there. While I’m not sure that is likely, the actual gains so far for Republicans in the House were replicated at the state level as well.
The gains were so notable that they prompted a Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee spokeswoman to observe: “It’s clear that Trump isn’t an anchor for the Republican legislative candidates. He’s a buoy. He overperformed media expectations, Democratic and Republican expectations, and lifted legislative candidates with him.”
The GOP’s state legislative branch gains are going to have a huge impact on redistricting for the next decade or so.
The New York Times bemoans the loss for their side (archive link):
Democrats had hoped for a “Blue Wave” to sweep statehouses that Republicans had controlled for years, running expensive ad campaigns and extensive get-out-the-vote efforts. But as the results came in, it became increasingly clear that they had failed on multiple fronts.
. . . . Democrats failed to take control of the Texas House from Republicans, a prize that had seemed within reach. They also lost the battle for North Carolina’s House and Senate, chambers they had set their sights on after years of Republican control. And they failed to flip the Iowa House, according to the N.C.S.L. Democrats also failed to flip the Houses in Pennsylvania and Michigan, Mr. Storey said.
“Our electoral targets in this election were in difficult states that remain gerrymandered from a decade ago,” said Patrick Rodenbush, communications director for the National Democratic Redistricting Committee. “It was always going to take a ‘blue wave’ for us to get deeper into the map in states like Texas and North Carolina, and that didn’t happen for Democrats.”
. . . . Statehouses are important because they are the places where issues like abortion, guns and police reform get decided. They are particularly critical this year because of a process known as redistricting: the redrawing of state and national electoral maps after the decennial census. While some states use nonpartisan or bipartisan commissions to draw these maps, the process in most states is controlled by the majority party in the state legislature. The most recent census is being finalized, and data will be sent to the states for redistricting beginning next year.
Republicans still have a distinct advantage since winning two dozen chambers in the 2010 election cycle, double the average number of chambers that flip every two years, according to Mr. Storey. Before Tuesday’s election, Republicans controlled about three-fifths of all 98 partisan legislative chambers. If no other chambers flip as new results come in, that Republican dominance will not change.
“It was a huge night for state Republicans,” said David Abrams, deputy executive director of the Republican State Leadership Committee, which focuses on electing Republicans to state offices. “Democrats spent hundreds of millions of dollars to flip state chambers. So far, they don’t have a damn thing to show for it.”
Democrats spent big to take control of state legislatures but lost their key targets. Now they’ll be on the sidelines as new maps are drawn.
. . . . An abysmal showing by Democrats in state legislative races on Tuesday not only denied them victories in Sun Belt and Rust Belt states that would have positioned them to advance their policy agenda — it also put the party at a disadvantage ahead of the redistricting that will determine the balance of power for the next decade.
The results could domino through politics in America, helping the GOP draw favorable congressional and state legislative maps by ensuring Democrats remain the minority party in key state legislatures. Ultimately, it could mean more Republicans in Washington — and in state capitals.
By Wednesday night, Democrats had not flipped a single statehouse chamber in its favor. And it remained completely blocked from the map-making process in several key states — including Texas, North Carolina and Florida, which could have a combined 82 congressional seats by 2022 — where the GOP retained control of the state legislatures.
After months of record-breaking fundraising by their candidates and a constellation of outside groups, Democrats fell far short of their goals and failed to build upon their 2018 successes to capture state chambers they had been targeting for years. And they may have President Donald Trump to blame.
“It’s clear that Trump isn’t an anchor for the Republican legislative candidates. He’s a buoy,” said Christina Polizzi, a spokesperson for the Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee, on Wednesday. “He overperformed media expectations, Democratic and Republican expectations, and lifted legislative candidates with him.”
New Hampshire Republicans have retained the governorship and added the state House, Senate, and Council.
This is horrific..from full democratic control except for governor to a GOP sweep -what makes this wipe out worse is that this is the census year and redistricting for a decade happens with this legislature. There is no excuse 4 this failure. #nhpoliticshttps://t.co/MW1U3HpYBj
— arnie arnesen (@pchowder) November 5, 2020
In Virginia, voters decided to change the redistricting process, removing it from the state legislative body and putting it in the hands of a bipartisan committee.
Political redistricting ahead of Virginia’s 2021 elections will kick off soon under a transformed process, which voters approved this week through a constitutional amendment meant to curb gerrymandering.
Virginians overwhelmingly backed the amendment, which is poised to end the legislature’s sweeping control over legislative and congressional districts. It will shift map-drawing duties to a 16-member bipartisan commission of lawmakers and citizens and, if they deadlock, to the right-leaning Virginia Supreme Court.
The amendment, which appeared as Question 1 on Virginians’ ballots, had attracted the support of 66% of voters as of late Wednesday, with nearly all ballots counted.
Work to create the commission is expected to begin this month, but the actual map-drawing process could be put on hold until the summer, due to expected delays on population data from the federal government, prompted by the pandemic.
Political redistricting, which happens every 10 years after the census, has been a highly politicized process that can help secure electoral victories for one party or another based on how districts are drawn.
It’s that dynamic that led many high-ranking Virginia Democrats to oppose the amendment, which wrestled control over the process away from the General Assembly and into the hands of a bipartisan group — just as Democrats won control of the legislature from Republicans.
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