I’m going to use a bit of Sean’s quote here, because I know that he’ll forgive me:
The story buried by the national media’s fixation with Hillary Clinton’s next move is the solid bench that Republicans have been efficiently building – not just in Democrat-blue Pennsylvania, but across the country – since her husband left office in 2000.
“The presidency is one election, and Democrats and Republicans have basically been alternating it for the better part of a decade now,” said Sean Trende, elections analyst at RealClearPolitics. “But it is the GOP that is ascendant down-ballot.”
Trende explains that, in 2010, Republicans won around 54 percent of state house and senate seats nationally; the number fell slightly in 2012, to 53 percent of state senate and 52 percent of state house seats.
“Part of the disparity comes from the fact that not all the state senate seats were up in 2012,” he said. “But overall, Democrats pay the same penalty in state legislative districts that they pay in congressional districts” – their coalition has become too geographically concentrated to function well in legislative races.
I want to drill down on this. Contemplate, for a moment, how life looks for Democrats who are not in the executive branch. Since 2009, it’s been pretty darn bleak. On the federal level, Congress may no longer rubber-stamp the Democratic wish list – and if you think that it does, I invite you to take another look at the 2009 ‘stimulus,’ which was the Democratic wish list at the time, and one that they would dearly love to update – or, in fact, do pretty much anything at all*. On the state level… well. The Democrats used to control most of the governorships. Before 2010. The Democrats used to control most of the state legislatures. Before 2010. The Democrats used to control a competitive number of state governments outright. Before 2010. But now – largely because of Barack Obama and his Danger-Prone 109th Congress** – state legislatures across the country are now operating under Republican control, and it’s becoming increasingly obvious that conservative-controlled legislatures have a somewhat better idea about how to handle a sour economy than liberal-controlled ones do.
That fact has three consequences, and they’re all problematic ones for Democrats:
- Messaging is now more difficult. A fact often half-obscured by the media, but the truth is that more conservative politicians = more people in power talking about the things that conservatives want to talk about. Think that the Democratic establishment enjoys talking about abortion in terms of late-term restrictions? They don’t. It’s not exactly their call anymore, though.
- The Democratic farm team is suffering. Less of a pool from which to draw future governors, Senators, and Congressmen.
- State legislatures are now giving the federal government fits. Most obvious example there? Obamacare Medicare expansion. Barack Obama didn’t expect to have to fight that one, even after the Supreme Court dumped it on his lap. He certainly didn’t try to make a better deal to get those state exchanges in Red states. He really, really should have done both.
Now, bear in mind: pendulums swing back, too. Witness, oh, 2006 and 2008; and welcome to the two-party system**. But right now we’re… maintaining an even strain. And if you’re worried that we actually aren’t, or that we’re about to stop; why, then, the answer is clear. Go ye to your state or local party apparatus, and help out. They’ll be happy to see you.
*Yes, I am sure that many people are really broken up about that. Yes, I am also certain that many other people are waiting for their favorite Inevitable RiNO Betrayal event. Such is the current intellectual dynamic of the Vast Right-Wing Conspiracy.
**As the sage said: here’s your accordion.