How to Understand Democrats’ Disappointing Losses in State Legislatures

Joe Biden won the White House overwhelmingly, but otherwise the news for Democrats has been grim since election day. They failed to flip the Senate – although the Georgia runoff could still get them a 50:50 tie broken by Vice President Kamala Harris – and lost seats in the House of Representatives, where they were expected to fill their majority. But nowhere has the news been worse than at the state legislature level, where despite unprecedented investments by democratic organizations and outside groups and the expectation that in a “blue wave” they would switch from four to eight legislatures – or more – party lost on Ground.

With surprising openness, Nicole Hobbs, co-founder of Every District, a government organization for organization, fundraising and data analysis, wrote in an election post mortem: “It was a blood bath.”

I’ve heard that word a lot. Also “Shit Show”. The mildest: “No way to gloss it over.”

These came from people who are still trying to raise funds to continue their struggle. That makes them courageous, even when (mostly) lost.

The losses were everywhere. Not all races in all states are called, but despite the outstanding competitions, there is no way Democrats can turn chambers. Against all odds, they lost the New Hampshire House and the Senate. Activists hoped Democrats could pick up homes in Iowa and Minnesota; They lost five and seven seats respectively. They seemed close to flipping both the Arizona House and the Senate. Despite Biden’s victory, they only got one Senate seat there. They thought they had a good chance of flipping the North Carolina House and / or the Senate. They lost an estimated four seats in the House of Representatives while they won one in the Senate. After winning 12 seats at Texas House in 2018, there was optimism that Democrats could turn it around by winning nine this year; You won one.

They had a good chance of winning the Michigan House, which seems reasonable in hindsight, as Biden won the state by nearly 150,000 votes; instead, zero profits. Biden also won Wisconsin, albeit tighter, but thanks to the vast districts, the Democrats lost two Senate seats while they won two in the House of Representatives. And he won Pennsylvania, but the Democrats lost three House seats and apparently one in the Senate.

There were a few bright spots – mainly that the Democrats mostly clung to seats and chambers they had recently won. It really could have been worse. But in the year leading up to crucial restructuring decisions, the losses could be significant setbacks to the Democrats’ long-term project to abolish the GOP gerrymandering, which is driving Republicans to win state legislative and congressional delegations despite receiving fewer votes nationwide. This was particularly critical in North Carolina, Texas, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, where Republicans dominated after the bleak 2010 elections and where caricaturally unfair lines were drawn. The only good news in Wisconsin is that the Democrats retain enough legislative power to uphold a veto on Democratic Governor Tony Evers.

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