Last week I saw a lot of debate over whether the election results represented a fundamental shift on the part of the electorate or just a typical midterm swing toward the opposition party. Even though the Republicans picked up 60+ seats in the House of Representatives, their failure to take the Senate led many to the conclusion that these election results were in the normal range.
Yesterday I came across an article that challenged this interpretation by analyzing what happened at the state level last Tuesday, specifically in state legislatures. Essentially, we are looking at Reconstruction-era levels of GOP dominance in statehouses. Remember that during Reconstruction, huge numbers of Democrats were barred from voting because they were allegedly traitors, so last week’s results definitely do not fall within the normal range of election results.
Some of the most striking numbers: Republicans seized control of nineteen legislatures from Democrats and won 998 seats previously held by Democrats. These figures are more remarkable one realizes that several states with Democratic majorities did not hold legislative elections last week. Several key swing states in presidential elections, such as Ohio and Pennsylvania, saw big GOP gains.
Don’t forget that because this is a census year, the people elected last week will be the ones who do the redistricting over the next year or two, so these new Republican majorities could have a field day.