July 24, 2010


Dems Headed for Potential State House Disaster (Sean Trende, Jul 19, 2010, Real Clear Politics)

The biggest danger to the Democrats comes from the losses that they are poised to endure in the Governor's races. These losses are likely to be massive, and illustrate the size of the impending voter revolt. And they could not come at a worse time. Combined with likely statehouse gains, they threaten to put Republicans in charge of redistricting for the first time in several generations, and will potentially provide the GOP with a top-tier crop of Presidential hopefuls in the future.

The Democrats have dominated the governorships in post-Depression politics. Take the following chart, which tracks the annual percentage of governorships held by Democrats since the end of Reconstruction (we have to do this annually; some states had 1- or 3-year gubernatorial terms for much of this time frame):

From 1931 through 1994, Democrats fell below a majority of governorships only 8 times. The 1994 blowout dropped them to 39% of the governorships, though they returned to parity after the 2006 elections. Their absolute worst results in the past 134 years came in 1921 and 1922, when the Harding landslide took them down to 29% of the seats.

This year, Democrats are poised to test that floor. Consider today's RealClearPolitics No Toss Up Map, which shows the state of the 2010 Governor races based off of the latest RCP Averages and polls:

Based on this, Democrats are headed toward holding 28% of the Governor's seats. This is their lowest result since the ending of Reconstruction allowed for fully competitive gubernatorial elections in all states. It is well below their 134-year average of 55% of seats held.

Dems sound alarm on state races (CHARLES MAHTESIAN, 7/23/10, Politico)
Mike Lux, a leading progressive political consultant, warned that the governorships in those states [California, Florida and Texas] were critical with redistricting looming, since they are home to roughly a quarter of the 435 House seats.

“If you take states that big and mess with their borders, you could change our national politics for the next decade,” he said.

Yet governors’ races aren’t the only contests that could have a transformative effect on the political landscape. Numerous state legislatures are at stake —including those in Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin and Colorado, among others—and thousands of state legislative seats across the country up for grabs in November. Those lesser-heralded contests could ultimately play a key role in determining the make-up of the U.S. House, since the majority party in state legislatures typically occupies the commanding heights in redistricting in many states.

“It’s always a struggle to generate enough national attention to how important state legislative campaigns and majorities are,” said Michael Sargeant, executive director of the Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee, who spoke on a separate panel Friday on reapportionment and redistricting. “With redistricting coming up, the future of the Democratic Party will largely be decided upon the results of the elections this November.”

Posted by Orrin Judd at July 24, 2010 6:58 AM
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