Of all the stories of the great Republican wave election of 2010, one of the stories that didn’t get wide play is just how dominant the GOP was in state elections. Republicans claimed a record 680 state legislative seats around the country, 52 more than the old record, set by Democrats in 1974 and 208 more than they picked up in the 1994 Gingrich Revolution. The right now controls both chambers of 26 state legislatures.
And the hits just keep coming. In the past couple of weeks, at least 11 Democratic state legislators have switched sides — one in South Dakota, one in Maine, , one in Louisiana, two in Georgia, and four in Alabama. In Louisiana, the switch gives Republicans control of one house of the government for the first time since Reconstruction; in Alabama, the Republicans control both houses for the first time since 1874.
The obvious reason these wins are important is that 44 states will start redrawing their Congressional districts next year. Many of the states in the South now controlled by Republicans will pick up House seats and few of them will be inclined to treat Democratic incumbents well. The lines drawn next year could help cement Republican control of the house not only in 2012 but perhaps for the next decade or more.
The less obvious reason this is a big deal is that the national GOP now has a number of allies in the states to help it bring down the various massive programs Democrats have foisted on us over the past two years. There are a lot of ways that the states can wrest power away from Washington and bring it back to the states where it belongs. The ongoing Obamacare lawsuit is just one example. States can get more aggressive about how its highways are built and maintained, push back against Federal drug laws, demand money siphoned away from them by high income and gasoline taxes, and counter the thousands of new economy-stifling regulations pressed upon their businesses since the Democrats took control of the nation.
If you think one Chris Christie is good, imagine if we had ten Chris Christies or 50 in each of the states Republicans control. That’s a distinct possibility, which makes the GOP dominance of state elections a win that could pay off for America for generations.
(Map via The Virtuous Republic)