Today’s Gubernatorial, Statehouse Races Will Set the Table for Redistricting Fights
All elections are about power—and some shifts in political power are felt for years.
Such was the case 10 years ago, when Republicans rode an electoral tsunami that gave the party its largest share of state legislative seats since the 1920s. That election preceded the once-per-decade redrawing of legislative and congressional districts, and Republicans used their time in the catbird seat to carve out favorable political geography for themselves. Although some of those district maps were eventually overturned by courts and redrawn after yearslong legal battles, Republican gains at the state level in the 2010 election undeniably shaped the country’s political landscape for the past decade.
What the next decade looks like will be decided today.
There are 5,876 state legislative races being conducted on Tuesday—nearly 80 percent of all statehouse seats in the country—and 11 states will elect a governor as well. Beyond the redistricting power, there are significant policy stakes: the National Conference for State Legislature (NCSL), a nonpartisan group that tracks state political action, notes that Congress has passed 163 bills since January 2019 while states have enacted 15,000 new laws.
Democrats have clawed back some of what they lost in 2010, but NCSL data show that Republicans still hold 52 percent of America’s legislative seats and control 59 of the 98 partisan chambers in statehouses. (Nebraska has a unicameral legislature that is technically nonpartisan, but Republicans have an unofficial majority there too.)
A big night for Democrats could see them vault into power in some places where they haven’t had a majority for a long time. In Pennsylvania, the state that seems to be at the center of so much of this election, Democrats need to f
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