Republicans cleaned up on the down-ticket races, too

An important reminder from John Lott: the midterm-election Republican tsunami reached deep into local elections, too.

Republicans have picked up Colorado state Senate (possibly the state House), Maine state Senate, Minnesota state House, New Hampshire state House, New Mexico state House, New York state Senate, West Virginia state House and a tie in the Senate, Obviously not all the results are in yet, but Republicans now control both houses of 28 state legislatures and Nebraska.  

Even in Pennsylvania where Republicans lost the governorship (the only one that they lost), Republicans added 8 state house seats(119-84) and 3 senate seats (30-20).

The remarkable streak of GOP wins in gubernatorial races will have a lasting impact as well, reaching into the 2016 presidential contest.  There are such political mechanics as redistricting to consider, but also the enormous political asset that successful governorship can be.  Outgoing Texas governor Rick Perry, for example, is fond of citing not only his own achievements, but those of other Republican governors on the campaign trail.

The Washington Examiner makes a fascinating point about the Wendy Davis debacle in Texas: she failed so hard that she actually made Texas redder.  

Although polls consistently showed Davis losing by more than 10 points, she actually ended up losing by just over 20, a particularly poor showing.

Nine counties that voted for Democrat Bill White in 2010 over Gov. Rick Perry went red Tuesday night — Bexar, Culberson, Falls, Foard, Harris, La Salle, Nueces, Reeves and Trinity counties — all voted for Davis’ Republican opponent, Greg Abbott.

In fact, Democrats haven’t had such a poor showing in a Texas gubernatorial race since 1998, when Democrat Garry Mauro lost to George W. Bush by 37 points.

There is a significant, if not airtight, relationship between the political culture in states, and the way those state electorates influence national elections.  (It would be even more pronounced if we returned to the original conception of U.S. Senators as appointees of the state legislatures, which was intended to give the states a powerful hand in guiding the federal government – an excellent idea jettisoned with the direct election of senators.)  It matters that the political cultures of so many states are moving in the Republicans’ direction.  

The countervailing pressure comes from big cities – those blue mushroom clouds that detonate in the middle of red seas on Election Night.  Big cities are often very separate from the political cultures of their states, with Chicago being perhaps the most obvious example.  The urban mindset – with its inherent comfort level for the biggest, most controlling sort of government, and its tendency to view every left-leaning social issue as more a crisis than rural and suburban voters generally estimate – remains a well-fortified reservoir of Democrat strength, not to mention the immense power of ancient big-city political machines.  

With that in mind, the case can made that the 2014 elections were even more of a seismic event than looking at the national headlines would imply.


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