Going into Election Day, Republicans controlled 57 of the nation’s 98 partisan legislative chambers (Nebraska’s is nonpartisan and unicameral). They had high hopes of expanding their dominance in state capitals, particularly playing hard to claim the state senates in Nevada, Maine, Colorado, Oregon, and Iowa and the state houses in New Hampshire, Colorado, West Virginia, New Mexico, Minnesota, and Kentucky. Democrats, for their part, thought they had a shot at breaking up GOP-dissident Dem coalitions in the New York Senate and Washington Senate while recovering lost ground in Arkansas, Iowa, Wisconsin, and elsewhere.
It wasn’t just the candidates and party caucuses that invested heavily in these legislative contests. On the left, teacher unions, the rest of organized labor, environmental groups, and the other usual suspects devoted significant money and effort, particularly in states that also had marquee races for U.S. Senate and governor. Groups on the right, ranging from low-tax and pro-business organizations to the pro-life and school-choice movements, did the same, although in most cases they appear to have been outspent.