Republican State Party Power and 2016

In the 22 years since the 1994 Republican midterm landslide, the landscape of partisan power in state governments has changed dramatically.  The Republican Party was the minority party in state government for almost seventy straight years before the Gingrich Contract with America transformed not only control of Congress but vitally control of state legislatures, long the hardest bastion of Democrat power in politics and quietly the key to Democrat dominance of American politics.

Consider that in 1990, Republicans controlled only six state legislative chambers in America, and Democrats controlled 29 state legislatures.  Today Republicans control 30 state legislative chambers, and Democrats control 11.  The remarkable power of Republicans in state government today goes beyond legislative chambers.  Thirty-one governors are Republican, and only 18 are Democrats. 

The map of America from Pennsylvania to the Pacific Coast has precisely three states which have Democrat controlled legislatures – Illinois, California, and Oregon – and the governor of Illinois is a Republican.  The Republican dominance in state government power outside the Northeast is stunning. 

Crucially, Republicans are overwhelmingly stronger in the state governments of swing states in the 2016 presidential election.  Real Clear Politics lists 11 swing states: Florida, Ohio, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Georgia, Virginia, Wisconsin, Iowa, Missouri, Arizona, and Nevada.  If Donald Trump carries these 11 states, then he will have 308 electoral votes, or 38 more than he needs to win the election.

These 11 states have 22 legislative chambers, and out of those 22 legislative chambers, Democrats control precisely one chamber: the Iowa State Senate by a slender 26 to 23 seats.  Republican governors run nine out of those eleven states as well with Democrat governors only in Pennsylvania and Missouri.  Republicans also control a strong majority of the secretary of state and the attorney general offices in these states.  In several swing states, virtually every part of state government – both legislative chambers and all statewide elected officers – are Republican.

Republican state government power may even allow five states leaning Democrat today to vote for Trump in November.  Michigan, for example, has a Republican governor and strong majorities in both houses of the Michigan legislature.  Republicans control the New Mexico House and the governorship.  Republicans control the Maine Senate and the governorship.  Republicans control both houses of the New Hampshire legislature and the Colorado senate.  Those states also have a number of popular Republicans in secondary statewide offices which can help Trump.  Picking off any of those Democrat leaning states could give an additional edge.

That represents a fundamental advantage over Democrats in control of the apparatus of state government and the organizational power that Scott Walker, to use one example, was able to show in the Republican primary in Wisconsin – if Trump can persuade Republicans in state government to get enthusiastically behind his candidacy.

Trump helped himself with Republican governors by picking Governor Pence, a well liked and successful conservative Republican governor.  Trump would be very wise in making the restoration of constitutional federalism a key element of his campaign down the stretch.  The likelier a Trump victory, of course, the likelier that term-limited Republican governors who get behind Trump may find cabinet posts, and so a personal interest in his victory.  A Trump victory will also help Republicans in state races up and down the ticket.

There is another aspect to consider as well.  Real Clear Politics shows seven Senate races as tossup now:  Florida, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, New Hampshire, Missouri, Nevada, and Indiana.  Six of those are also tossups in the presidential race.  What happens in these states will determine not only the White House, but the Senate.  Republicans control all of state government in four states – Florida, North Carolina, Nevada, and Indiana – and control the state legislatures in the other three.

Four other states with Senate races considered "leaning Republican" – Iowa, Arizona, Georgia, and Ohio – and Republicans control all of state government, save the Iowa Senate, in all four states.  The two states with Senate races "leaning Democrat" – Illinois and Wisconsin – Republicans control state government completely in Wisconsin, where Senator Johnson is now beginning to run close to Russ Feingold, and even in Illinois, the governor is Republican.

Republican unity is the key to the type of broad Republican victory at all levels in 2016, which will allow the sort of peaceful, constitutional revolutionary change that our nation needs.  Everyone involved will have to put aside personal hurts and truly unite.  If that happens, Trump – and the Republican Party generally – will win this election.

In the 22 years since the 1994 Republican midterm landslide, the landscape of partisan power in state governments has changed dramatically.  The Republican Party was the minority party in state government for almost seventy straight years before the Gingrich Contract with America transformed not only control of Congress but vitally control of state legislatures, long the hardest bastion of Democrat power in politics and quietly the key to Democrat dominance of American politics.

Consider that in 1990, Republicans controlled only six state legislative chambers in America, and Democrats controlled 29 state legislatures.  Today Republicans control 30 state legislative chambers, and Democrats control 11.  The remarkable power of Republicans in state government today goes beyond legislative chambers.  Thirty-one governors are Republican, and only 18 are Democrats. 

The map of America from Pennsylvania to the Pacific Coast has precisely three states which have Democrat controlled legislatures – Illinois, California, and Oregon – and the governor of Illinois is a Republican.  The Republican dominance in state government power outside the Northeast is stunning. 

Crucially, Republicans are overwhelmingly stronger in the state governments of swing states in the 2016 presidential election.  Real Clear Politics lists 11 swing states: Florida, Ohio, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Georgia, Virginia, Wisconsin, Iowa, Missouri, Arizona, and Nevada.  If Donald Trump carries these 11 states, then he will have 308 electoral votes, or 38 more than he needs to win the election.

These 11 states have 22 legislative chambers, and out of those 22 legislative chambers, Democrats control precisely one chamber: the Iowa State Senate by a slender 26 to 23 seats.  Republican governors run nine out of those eleven states as well with Democrat governors only in Pennsylvania and Missouri.  Republicans also control a strong majority of the secretary of state and the attorney general offices in these states.  In several swing states, virtually every part of state government – both legislative chambers and all statewide elected officers – are Republican.

Republican state government power may even allow five states leaning Democrat today to vote for Trump in November.  Michigan, for example, has a Republican governor and strong majorities in both houses of the Michigan legislature.  Republicans control the New Mexico House and the governorship.  Republicans control the Maine Senate and the governorship.  Republicans control both houses of the New Hampshire legislature and the Colorado senate.  Those states also have a number of popular Republicans in secondary statewide offices which can help Trump.  Picking off any of those Democrat leaning states could give an additional edge.

That represents a fundamental advantage over Democrats in control of the apparatus of state government and the organizational power that Scott Walker, to use one example, was able to show in the Republican primary in Wisconsin – if Trump can persuade Republicans in state government to get enthusiastically behind his candidacy.

Trump helped himself with Republican governors by picking Governor Pence, a well liked and successful conservative Republican governor.  Trump would be very wise in making the restoration of constitutional federalism a key element of his campaign down the stretch.  The likelier a Trump victory, of course, the likelier that term-limited Republican governors who get behind Trump may find cabinet posts, and so a personal interest in his victory.  A Trump victory will also help Republicans in state races up and down the ticket.

There is another aspect to consider as well.  Real Clear Politics shows seven Senate races as tossup now:  Florida, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, New Hampshire, Missouri, Nevada, and Indiana.  Six of those are also tossups in the presidential race.  What happens in these states will determine not only the White House, but the Senate.  Republicans control all of state government in four states – Florida, North Carolina, Nevada, and Indiana – and control the state legislatures in the other three.

Four other states with Senate races considered "leaning Republican" – Iowa, Arizona, Georgia, and Ohio – and Republicans control all of state government, save the Iowa Senate, in all four states.  The two states with Senate races "leaning Democrat" – Illinois and Wisconsin – Republicans control state government completely in Wisconsin, where Senator Johnson is now beginning to run close to Russ Feingold, and even in Illinois, the governor is Republican.

Republican unity is the key to the type of broad Republican victory at all levels in 2016, which will allow the sort of peaceful, constitutional revolutionary change that our nation needs.  Everyone involved will have to put aside personal hurts and truly unite.  If that happens, Trump – and the Republican Party generally – will win this election.