Friday, 02 Dec 2022

Why the Democrats biggest wins of the midterms werent in Washington DC

Why the Democrats biggest wins of the midterms werent in Washington DC


Why the Democrats biggest wins of the midterms werent in Washington DC

While Democrats staved off a red wave in Washington during the midterm elections, the party's most significant victories came far away from the US Capitol. They were in state legislatures across the country with consequences that will be felt for years to come.

Over the last decade, Republicans have quietly amassed power in state capitols, investing in races for state legislatures that can be decided by just a few hundred votes. It's an investment that has paid off wildly. Since state legislatures draw electoral districts in many places, Republicans have used that advantage to entrench their power, drawing district lines that further guaranteed their majorities. They have also used those majorities to pass measures that make it harder to vote, strip LGBTQ+ protections, loosen gun laws and restrict access to abortion.

In the midterms, however, Democrats flipped at least three state legislative chambers and held on to their majorities in several states where they were in jeopardy. The victories ended years of Democratic defeat and disappointment and caught even some Democrats off guard. It marked the first midterm election since at least 1934 in which the president's party didn't lose control of a single legislative chamber, according to the Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee (DLCC), which focuses on state legislative races.

"We went into this cycle very clear-eyed. Knowing it was a presidential midterm and frankly expecting to lose seats," said Jessica Post, president of the DLCC. "Republicans had everything in their favor. By all accounts, this election should have been a landslide for the Republicans. Instead, their so-called red wave looks more like a puddle."

In Michigan, Democrats took control of both chambers of the legislature for the first time in nearly 40 years. Governor Gretchen Whitmer, a Democrat, was also re-elected to a second term, giving the party complete control of state government in one of America's most politically competitive states.

"I felt pretty confident we were gonna get one chamber and be looking at potentially picking up the chamber in two years. But it was surprising for me that we flipped both houses," said Mallory McMorrow, a Democratic Michigan state senator who worked on flipping state legislative seats.

Democrats also flipped control of the Minnesota senate, giving them complete control of state government there. In Pennsylvania, ballots are still being counted in two razor-thin state house races that will determine control of the state house.

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