If Republicans adhere to their platform, their coming domination of state governments can put an end to nearly every deleterious policy of the Biden administration. Will they use their power, or will they squander it?
Almost all of the election analysis before and after Nov. 8 will be centered on the number of seats Republicans win in the House and Senate, but it’s really their potential gains in state governments that matters most. We already know the script before it’s written. House Republicans will pass some good stand-alone bills, knowing they won’t pass out of the Senate, and will refuse to stand behind those ideas in the budget bills because “we don’t have 60 votes in the Senate and the presidency.” But the dirty little secret is that most of those ideas to protect the liberty, security, and values of the citizens can be done at the state level, where Republicans are poised to assume full control in states that hold well over half the country’s population.
At present, Republicans hold 23 trifectas (governorship and both chambers of the legislature), Democratic hold 14, and in 13 states there is divided government. Here is the graphic presentation from Ballotpedia:
That is already substantial GOP power that has consistently been underutilized. Also, Republicans have 28 governors while Democrats only have 22. They control both chambers of the legislature in 29 states, with supermajorities (veto-proof) in 16 of those states, as compared to Democrats, who only control eight state legislatures with supermajorities. Republicans have 32 state Senate chambers to Democrats’ 18, and they have 30 state Houses to Democrats’ 18 (Nebraska has no lower House, and Alaska’s House is under shared control).
In total, according to Ballotpedia, Republicans control 54.10% of the nation’s 7,383 legislative seats compared to 44.32% controlled by Democrats. Here is the graphic representation of House and Senate chamber controls, courtesy of Ballotpedia:
This is all following the 2020 GOP election “loss” and before the impending election victory that is trending toward a wave. Republicans have the opportunity to pick up governorships and legislatures around the country. In particular, there is the prospect of acquiring trifecta control in critical swing presidential states while making inroads in blue states with governorships and/or legislative chambers that could, at a minimum, break some of the few remaining Democrat trifectas.
Here’s the breakdown. On the negative side, Republicans are poised to lose the governorship in Maryland and Massachusetts. But it won’t be much of a setback, because Democrats already had veto-proof majorities in both of the states’ legislative chambers. Also, the Republicans there were extremely liberal anyway.
On the positive side, if the current trends holds, Republicans are poised to pick up the governorships in Wisconsin, Nevada, Oregon, and Kansas, and they have the momentum in New York, Pennsylvania, Michigan, New Mexico, and Minnesota. Also, if the wave continues to grow and undecided voters continue to break against the incumbents, as the trend is showing, they can still win in Pennsylvania and Maine, where polls currently show the Democrat ahead.
In other words, it’s almost guaranteed they will have more than 30 governorships, with a chance of collecting 35-37 if they run the table. More specifically, by winning the governorships in Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Kansas, they automatically would earn four more trifectas, because they already have strong control of those legislative bodies. Also, most analysists believe that Republicans already had a chance to capture the Minnesota House (they currently control the Senate and are only four shy in the House), so now that Scott Jensen appears to be even with the Democrat for governor (and the Republican running for attorney general is ahead of incumbent Democrat Keith Ellison), there is a shocking chance for a GOP trifecta in Minnesota.
As such, if Republicans win all five governorships in the aforementioned states with majorities in the legislatures, that would bring them to 28 trifectas. Then, it is almost a certainty that in this environment, conservatives will be able to pick up enough seats in the Alaska House to break the RINO sharing agreement and restore the trifecta they always should have had. Finally, it’s important to note that Kentucky doesn’t hold a governor’s election this year, but Republicans already have veto-proof majorities in both houses. Plus, Republicans have a very good chance to grow their majorities in North Carolina to veto-proof status against Democrat Governor Roy Cooper. On paper, that would give them 31 states where they can get legislation enacted into law without Democrat obstacles!
Now let’s examine the Democrat trifectas. Here again is the map of existing trifectas:
Let’s add Massachusetts and Maryland to the blue column, since Dems already have super-majorities and now will officially have trifectas. But Republicans, along with the chance of winning the governorship in New Mexico, also have a chance to flip the state House (the Senate is not in cycle). Together with the unprecedented exodus of Hispanic voters from the Democratic Party, a strong gubernatorial candidate at the top, a competitive congressional race in the northern part of the state, and the fact that Democrats did not aggressively gerrymander the House districts as they did in the Senate, there is a very good chance they could flip the House as they did in 2014.
Following the trend of the great Hispanic realignment, Republicans are poised for a revolution in Nevada. They will almost certainly break the Democrat trifecta in Nevada by winning the governorship and stand a very good chance of flipping the state assembly. If the current trend of generational shift among Hispanic voters holds up and they run the table statewide, as some polls are showing, it is also possible that Republicans can flip the Senate too, which would require them to win every competitive race. That would replace a Democrat trifecta with a GOP trifecta.
Likewise, in Oregon, they are now favored to win the governorship, thereby breaking the Democrat trifecta. Despite Oregon’s reputation as a wacko Antifa state, the leftists are confined to certain parts of the state, with large geographic swaths remaining red. Thus, even now, Democrats only have a four-seat majority in the Senate, which can be in play given their problems at the top of the ticket with an unpopular governor who will likely lose and several vacancies among their incumbents. Control of the House is a much tougher hill to climb, requiring them to net at least seven seats, but it should be noted that they will almost certainly pick up two seats, which is enough to break the Democrat three-fifths majority, which is necessary to pass revenue-raising bills.
Moving to the other coast, in Maine, even if Republican Paul LePage comes up short in unseating Democrat Governor Janet Mills, the legislative chambers, especially the Senate, have historically flipped back and forth during bad midterms for both parties. Since 2008, the president’s party has lost the Maine Senate during each midterm election. This year, Republicans must net five seats. There’s also a slightly less likely but plausible chance they will win the more historically Democrat-controlled lower chamber if LePage does win at the top (or possibly even if he doesn’t, because of the culture of split-ticket voting), because Democrats were not able to gerrymander the districts thanks to an independent redistricting commission. So, there is a decent chance of breaking the Democrat trifecta in one of three ways.
Elsewhere in the deep blue Northeast, if Lee Zeldin wins in New York, that would automatically deny Democrats the trifecta, and at a minimum, Democrats shouldn’t have a veto-proof majority in the upper chamber. While flipping 12 seats to downright control the Senate is tough, if there really is a revolution brewing in the Empire State enough to propel Zeldin into the governor’s mansion, it’s very reasonable that Republicans would reclaim the Senate, which was historically in GOP hands until 2018.
Next door in Connecticut, it’s unlikely that Republicans can win statewide races, but polls show the Republican leading in the northwestern congressional district. The state House is out of reach, but the state Senate is conceivably in play if Republicans overperform and run the table on the competitive seats. Democrats currently control the upper chamber 24-12. In 2016, when Trump overperformed at the top of the ticket, Republicans actually tied the Democrats at 18 seats apiece, but Democrats maintained control because of the Democrat lieutenant governor. Dems are definitely poised to lose a few seats.
In Colorado, it would take another level of a red wave for Republicans to win statewide, but they do appear to be overperforming. Even after the state went blue, the state Senate has flipped to Republicans in good years. They need to pick up three seats in the upper chamber to break the Democrat trifecta, which is very achievable, especially because an independent commission drew the new maps.
Thus, in a wave scenario, Democrats could potentially be reduced to 9 or 10 trifectas, essentially the West Coast, Hawaii, Illinois, and only some of the Northeastern states. And even at that, they are poised to lose seats in nearly all of those states. Republicans could wind up with 31 trifectas, 35 governors, and 34 states with both chambers of the legislature. Next year, Kentucky and Louisiana hold statewide elections, and it’s hard to see how Republicans don’t pick up the governorships along with supermajority legislative control. It’s also conceivable for the GOP to add to its supermajority status among the trifectas Republicans already control, such as in Montana, Florida, South Carolina, New Hampshire, and Texas, which often has ramifications for passing constitutional amendments and ballot referendums.This, of course, is the wave scenario. If the election is more in line with a more modest midterm win for the party out of the White House, you can add a few governors and trifectas to the D column and take a few away from the GOP column. But either way you slice it, Republicans will likely achieve historic control of state governments. What will they do with that power?