At present, there are seven states in which Democrats control both houses of the Legislature plus the governor’s office. The equivalent figure for Republicans is 25.
That is one of several factors that Matthew Yglesias employs (in a piece this morning on Vox.com) to argue that Democrats — who are enjoying the strange clown-car race for the Republican presidential nomination and the meltdown of the Republican majority in the U.S. House — are in denial. The Democratic Party is the one that is in “deep trouble,” Yglesias argues, and has “no plan to save itself.”
(An aside: If you think “clown-car” is an unfair description, consider that the Alex Castellanos, the Republican analyst on a “Meet the Press” panel Sunday, referred to the Repub race as a “dumpster fire.”)
But Yglesias is arguing that what is happening at the state and local level is a better harbinger of what’s ahead. Not only does complete control of 25 states allow Repubs to implement their programs at the state level without having to compromise with Dems, but that complete control at the state level means one-party control of the map for Congressional districts, which then becomes a significant advantage in maintaining Repub control of the U.S. House.
(Of course, Minnesota, with a Democratic governor and a DFL majority in the state Senate but a Repub majority in the state House, is one of the remaining 18 states that are not on either list.)
In addition to 70 percent of state legislatures, Yglesias notes, Republican control…
“more than 60 percent of governors, 55 percent of attorneys general and secretaries of state… And, of course, Republicans control both chambers of Congress. Indeed, even the House infighting reflects, in some ways, the health of the GOP coalition. Republicans are confident they won’t lose power in the House and are hungry for a vigorous argument about how best to use the power they have.”
Yes, of course, Yglesias acknowledges, the presidency is very important. And, although he doesn’t specify this, he seems to accept the conventional wisdom that odds favor the election of the Democratic nominee in 2016 (to the extent that, from this distance in time, such odds might mean anything). But, he continues:
“[Republicans] have a perfectly reasonable plan for trying to recapture the White House. But Democrats have nothing at all in the works to redress their crippling weakness down the ballot. Democrats aren’t even talking about how to improve on their weak points, because by and large they don’t even admit that they exist.”
By the way, Yglesias, if you are unfamiliar with his work, considers himself a liberal but is known for his willingness to follow the facts where he thinks they lead, even when they make him look like he is breaking liberal ranks, so much so that conservative (sort of) blogger Andrew Sullivan gives out an annual award that he named:
“The Yglesias Award — for writers, politicians, columnists or pundits who actually criticize their own side, make enemies among political allies, and generally risk something for the sake of saying what they believe.”
I like at least the spirit of that.