GOP Now Controls Majority of State Legislatures in Battleground States

GOP Now Controls Majority of State Legislatures in Battleground States

As politico’s sift through the results of the 2020 election, one issue has received little attention. And given its importance, I find that surprising.

I’m referring to the GOP’s majority control of state legislatures.

Prior to the election, Republicans held majorities in 59 chambers and Democrats, in 39. (Alaska’s House was split under a power-sharing agreement.)

Although the map looks very much the same following last week’s election, voters in New Hampshire managed to turn both their House and Senate red.

A closer glance at the post-election partisan legislative control map above shows that the GOP controls the state legislatures in many of the battleground states.

This includes Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Michigan, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. Texas is apparently part of this group as well (at least according to the crazies over at MSNBC).

Moreover, in 2021, Republicans will hold 27 governorships compared to the Democrats, with 23.

A “trifecta” refers to single-party control of a state’s governorship and both chambers of its legislature. As a result of the 2020 elections, Republicans won trifectas in New Hampshire and Montana. According to Ballotpedia, “If control of Alaska does not change, Republicans will have 23 trifectas (a net gain of two), Democrats will have 15 trifectas, and 12 states will have divided governments (a net loss of two). (If Republicans gain a trifecta in Alaska, they will have 24 trifectas to Democrats’ 15 with 11 divided governments.)”

Of the battleground states, the GOP will hold trifectas in Arizona, Florida, Georgia, New Hampshire, Ohio and Texas. Democrats will have a trifecta in Nevada only. The rest of the battlegrounds, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin will have divided government.

Why does it matter if Republicans control the legislatures in the majority of states, particularly in the battlegrounds?

Because in 2021, state legislatures will be redrawing U.S. House district maps according to changes identified by the 2020 census.

Obviously, lawmakers will try to draw these maps to “maximize their political advantage.” If a politician feels that the inclusion, or exclusion, of a particular county in a given district will benefit their party in an election, they will incorporate those changes into their new map. Oddly drawn districts are said to be gerrymandered.

Whatever changes are made to the maps and allowed to stand, as opposed to being thrown out by a judge, will remain in place for the next decade until a new census starts the process all over again.

Slate contributor Mary Harris considers this to be a big problem for the Democrats. She is worried that, “it may cement Republican power across the country for the next decade.”

Last Wednesday, Harris spoke with Mother Jones’ Ari Berman to discuss the issue.

Berman, who shares her concern, explained that, “We are heading into another redistricting cycle in 2021, and it’s the state legislatures that were elected in 2020 that are going to draw those maps for the next decade and determine which way all these pivotal swing states go. I think one of the biggest consequences of the 2020 election, which has not gotten much attention, is what happened in all of these different state legislative races.”

He believes that, after Republicans swept into power in the 2010 midterms, they “dominated the process.

“They won the power to draw four times as many congressional districts as Democrats did. They basically held control of all of these key states, whether it was Wisconsin or Ohio or Pennsylvania or Florida, and they remain in control of all of those states now.”

Both Harris and Berman agreed that, going into the 2020 elections, Democrats had high expectations which failed to pan out. As a result, Berman noted that, “with a few exceptions, the post-2020 redistricting cycle is going to look very similar to the post-2010 redistricting cycle, when Republicans dominated the process.”

“The 2022 midterms are going to take place under new maps that Republicans are going to draw,” said Berman. “You can be sure as hell that Republicans are going to do everything they can to try to entrench their power after 2020, just like they did after 2010. And the technology to do so is going to become even more sophisticated.”

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