Tuesday, August 7, 2018

The Most Important Elections You're Not Thinking Of

Some interesting election results tonight, with Democrat Danny O'Connor apparently falling just short of flipping the OH-12 House seat in the most closely-watched race. There was a big pro-Democratic swing in the district, consistent with other special elections since 2016, just not quite enough to flip the seat.
Meanwhile, beneath the surface, the playing field in a critical set of elections continues to tilt away from the Republicans. I speak here of state legislative elections, of massive importance but little watched by most political observers.
*At least half of state Senate seats in 42 states (in 15 of these states, the entire Senate is up) will be determined in November.
* Every state House seat in the overwhelming majority of states will also be determined in November.
These results will set the playing field for state elections in 2020 and the redistricting thereafter. It doesn't get much more important than that. Procedures in states vary but the typical setup is for the state legislature to be in charge of the actual redistricting with the governor having veto power (and note that Democrats look to make big gains in governors' races this year).
Reid Wilson of The Hill reports from the National Conference of State Legislators annual conference:
"Republicans hoping to hold on to their majorities in state legislative chambers across the country are nervously eying President Trump’s anemic approval rating, concerned that a wave of voter anger could undo years of gains.
In interviews at the National Conference of State Legislators' annual meetings last week, Republican leaders from purple and red states said they were worried that their members — most of whom are little-known even inside their own districts — are most vulnerable to an electoral atmosphere that even slightly benefits Democrats.
“There is more Democratic enthusiasm than I have seen in the last few cycles. That’s a reality I can’t ignore,” said Robin Vos, the Republican Speaker of the Wisconsin Assembly. “Almost everybody has an opinion on national politics today. Even if you’re totally uninformed, you still have an opinion.”
After notching major gains in 2010 and 2014, when Republican waves cost President Obama’s party about 1,000 state legislative seats across the country, Republicans control both legislative chambers in 31 states....
Party control of a substantial number of legislative chambers sits on a razor’s edge. Republicans control legislative chambers in swing states like Arizona, Colorado, Maine, Minnesota and Wisconsin by five or fewer seats. They control chambers in Florida, Iowa, West Virginia and South Carolina by margins of five to 10 seats.
Many legislators pointed to Trump, whose approval rating stands between 41 percent and 45 percent in recent reputable polls. While they praised Trump and his accomplishments on the record, many privately said his leadership style and polarizing nature would make their reelection bids more difficult.
State senators and representatives, who raise and spend just a fraction of the money spent on U.S. House or Senate races, are uniquely vulnerable to national trends, even if they ultimately have little say over federal policy or the president’s agenda."
So keep your eye on those state legislative races. How they turn out could be just as important as the House and Senate races everybody watches. The opportunity is clearly there for big Democratic gains, provided these races are vigorously contested and not overlooked in favor of higher profile contests.
About this article
Republicans hoping to hold on to their majorities in state legislative chambers across the country are concerned that a wave of voter anger could undo years of gains.

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