The Democrats May Control Washington, But Republicans Control The States


The New York Times notes that while Washington is deeply divided, with Democrats controlling the Senate and the White House, the states have become increasingly polarized, but on the whole nearly twice as many states are now under single-party Republican control compared to those under single-party Democrat control.

Though the Nov. 6 election maintained divided government in Washington, the picture is starkly different in capitals from California to Florida: one party will hold the governor’s office and majorities in both legislative chambers in at least 37 states, the largest number in 60 years and a significant jump from even two years ago.

Twenty-four states will be controlled by Republicans, including Alaska and Wisconsin, where the party took the State Senate, and North Carolina, where the governorship changed hands. At least 13 states will be Democratic, including Colorado, Minnesota and Oregon, where control of the legislatures shifted, and California, where the already dominant Democrats gained a supermajority in both chambers.

In addition there are six states with a Republican governor and a split legislature, and seven states with a Democrat governor and a split legislature.

There are a couple of reasons why all this is significant.

For one, this is why Republicans in Washington ought to be fighting to leave more policy decisions up to the states. Not only is federalism a first principle of conservatism (or should be, anyway), but most state governments tend to be more conservative in their taxing and spending relative to the federal government. This is no doubt because state leaders live and work a lot more closely to the voters that elect them.

For another, all these state-level leaders mean a deeper bench for Republicans when it comes to moving candidates up to federal office. More Republicans serving as state legislators, governors and other state-elected offices means a wider pool of Republicans from which to draw for federal office up to and including the presidency. That, one would think, should serve Republicans well going forward.

Rob Port

Rob Port is the editor of In 2011 he was a finalist for the Watch Dog of the Year from the Sam Adams Alliance and winner of the Americans For Prosperity Award for Online Excellence. In 2013 the Washington Post named SAB one of the nation's top state-based political blogs, and named Rob one of the state's best political reporters.

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