Republicans are poised to win control of more statehouses than ever after the 2012 redistricting process gave the GOP an unprecedented advantage in legislative elections. There are more than 6,000 legislative races on the ballot in 46 states this year, and Republicans stand to win enough contests to gain a bigger voice in state government, according to a Washington Post analysis.
At risk are programs backed by Democrats, such as Medicaid expansion under the Affordable Care Act. Republicans already control 59 of the 98 partisan chambers in 49 states, while Democrats control only 39 chambers. Before the 2010 election, Democrats held a 62 to 36 advantage in state legislative chambers, according to Governing magazine. Of the 87 chambers holding elections next week, nearly 70 are extremely likely to remain in the hands of the same party.
“The states have been pushing the envelope from all directions, and sometimes counter-intuitively,” Tim Storey, a legislative analyst at the National Conference of State Legislatures, told the Washington Post. “Immigration, minimum wage, tax increases, tax cuts, environmental legislation, abortion rights, all of those things, you’ve had a real uptick in policy-making at the state level.”
The projected 2014 legislative gains would come after Republicans picked up more than 700 seats in 2010. That enabled them to redistrict many states to their advantage when lines were redrawn after the 2010 Census. This year, Republicans stand to gain seats in New Hampshire, Washington, Virginia and Nevada, among other states.
Roughly 223 state senators and representatives are leaving office after the November elections because of term limits. More than 4,000 incumbents, or nearly 80 percent of state lawmakers running for re-election in 2014, had no primary challenger.
The 2014 state legislative primaries started in Texas on March 4 and continued through Sept. 9 with votes in Delaware, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York and Rhode Island.