Matthew Yglesias: Down Ballot Democrats Are In Trouble
The worst part of the problem for the Democratic Party is in races that are, collectively, the most important: state government.
Elections for state legislature rarely make the national news, but they are the fundamental building blocks of American politics. Since they run the redistricting process for the US House of Representatives and for themselves, they are where the greatest level of electoral entrenchment is possible.
And in the wake of the 2014 midterms, Republicans have overwhelming dominance of America’s state legislatures.
In what Democrats should take as a further bleak sign*, four of the 11 states where they control both houses of the state legislature — Maryland, New Jersey, Massachusetts, and Illinois — have a Republican governor. This leaves just seven states under unified Democratic Party control.
Republicans have unified control of 25 states. Along with the usual set of tax cuts for high-income individuals and business-friendly regulations, the result has been:
An unprecedented wave of restrictions on abortion rights
The spread of union-hostile “right to work” laws into the Great Lakes states
New curbs on voting rights, to further tilt the electorate in a richer, whiter, older direction
Large-scale layoffs of teachers and other public sector workers who are likely to support Democrats
*The bleakest sign for Democrats is that their supporters don’t vote in midterm elections, which is one of the main reasons why hard right Republicans control a lot of the country, even if their chances for winning the White House are bleak. Unless there is a concerted and regular get out the vote effort in these unsexy down ballot elections, the GOP will continue to dominate at this level. And Democrats can only blame themselves.