Two more bad news straws in the wind for Republicans Tuesday. Two Democrats took back state legislative seats lost in the long years of Obama’s inattention to states’ politics.
What’s ominous about these two — one in New Hampshire, one in Connecticut — is they continue a pattern of Republican reversals at the state level. They’re the 38th and 39th such seat flips by party since President Trump’s inauguration — six of them coming this year already.
Media will treat them as bad signs for the GOP’s outlook in the 2018 midterms on Nov. 6. They are.
But here’s the missing context: During Barack Obama’s presidency, Democrats not only lost the House of Representatives, the Senate and the White House.
They also lost just under 1,000 seats in state legislatures, including 46 in last November’s elections. That turned political control over to Republicans in 27 more of the 98 partisan legislative chambers.
The GOP now holds 4,164 state seats to Democrats’ 3,135. Republicans also control 33 of 50 governor’s offices and both legislative chambers in 26 of those states.
It’s not just like a meaningless Olympic medal count. Those legislatures will be redrawing all state districts following the 2020 census, which greatly aided GOP fortunes after the 2010 population count.
In the vacancy in Connecticut’s District 120, Democrat Phil Young defeated another town councilmen, Bill Cabral, in a district narrowly won by Hillary Clinton last year. In New Hampshire’s special election in Belknap County, which Trump won 54-41, Democrat Phil Spagnuolo defeated Republican Les Cartier by 127 votes.
Last week, as I wrote here, Democrats flipped two other seats in special state elections.
Two more races of interest Tuesday night: In Kentucky House District 89, the GOP’s Robert Goforth defeated Democrat Kelly Smith.
And in a GOP House primary contest out in Arizona’s heavily Republican 8th Congressional District, state Sen. Debbie Lesko won over 11 other Republican hopefuls for the right to run in the April 24th special election to replace resigned Rep. Trent Franks. Democrats have not fielded candidates there in recent elections.