When one party holds a state’s governor’s office and both of its state legislative chambers, the partisan control is generally known as a “trifecta.” And in recent years, Republicans have racked up more than a few of them, while Democrats have had very few.
Yesterday, that changed.
Going into Election Day 2018, there were 26 GOP trifectas and just 8 Democratic trifectas. Yesterday, that total went down for Republicans and nearly doubled for Dems. Vox took note of some of the more notable changes for the “blue” team:
In Colorado, for example, Democrats now control the state Senate and maintained control of the House of Representatives, and Democrat Jared Polis won the governorship, giving the party the “trifecta” of power in the state.
There will also be a Democratic trifecta in New York after the party took back control of the state’s Senate. Democrats have numerically had the majority there already, but for years there had been a group of Democratic senators who had broken off to caucus together and team up with Republicans.
Among the other new Democratic trifectas are Maine, Illinois, New Mexico, and Nevada. As things stand, the party’s total has gone from 8 before yesterday to 14, including all of the continental West coast.
And while Republicans appear to have gained a trifecta in Alaska, the GOP also lost their stronghold in Kansas (where Democrat Laura Kelly won the gubernatorial race), Michigan (where Gretchen Whitmer won the gubernatorial race), Wisconsin (where Tony Evers won the gubernatorial race), and New Hampshire (where Democrats flipped both the state House and state Senate).
This is about far more than bragging rights and electoral trivia. As Vox’s piece added:
Ahead of Election Day, Vox’s Dylan Scott laid out why state legislative elections are so important: They’re crucial for state-level policy debates on issues such as taxes, education, and health care, and they will also be key when officials start redrawing US congressional districts in 2020. Republican gerrymandering has put Democrats at a disadvantage in many states across the country, and Democrats getting more control of state legislatures could help them start to push back.
Per Scott: “It is no exaggeration to say that the 2018 state legislative races – and then the even more crucial 2020 elections – will help determine who controls the US House all the way through 2030.”
And as notable as the trifectas are, they’re emblematic of significant Democratic gains in state legislatures nationwide. Though votes are still being tallied, the Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee sent an alert to reporters two hours ago noting that Dems have “regained majorities in seven chambers and flipped 350 seats from red to blue nationwide.”
This probably won’t be the kind of story that dominates national headlines, but it’s a development that will pay dividends for Democrats for quite a while.