On a Democrat House caucus conference call Thursday, a lawmaker cried as Democrats dissected their unexpected setbacks from the Tuesday night election results. Democrats have sustained “historic” losses at all levels of government, conflicting with their post-election public narrative of a likely Joe Biden presidential win and potential Senate control amid contested vote counts and fraud allegations.
“It’s clear that [President Donald] Trump isn’t an anchor for the Republican legislative candidates. He’s a buoy,” a Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee spokeswoman told Politico Wednesday. “He overperformed media expectations, Democratic and Republican expectations, and lifted legislative candidates with him.”
The state-level outcome of the 2020 elections Tuesday shattered Democrat expectations of an inevitable blue wave and casts doubt on their claims that Trump has likely lost the presidency. It also sets Republicans up for better chances in future presidential and congressional contests by giving them the chance to control the redistricting that results from this year’s census.
“This year, unlike all the others, with so much noise and money going into this election, and yet the results are status quo, no change,” Wendy Underhill, director of the elections and redistricting team at the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL), told Pew Trust’s Stateline. “It’s jaw-dropping.”
Each two-year election cycle sees about 12 statehouse flips on average, Underhill said. So far, with some state races still being counted, just two state chambers have flipped this year, both in New Hampshire, and both went Republican.
The last time fewer than five legislative chambers flipped was in 1944, Underhill and Tim Storey, NCSL’s executive director, wrote in a blog post reviewing state results that concluded with, “the lack of partisan change in the states is jaw dropping.” If this year’s state legislative tally ends up being only two or three flips, “it’s historic,” Underhill said.
“State Democrats spent hundreds of millions of dollars to flip state chambers,” David Abrams, the Republican State Leadership Conference deputy executive director, told The Hill. “So far they don’t have a damn thing to show for it.”
“Nobody but the most ardent Republicans would have said the first flips would have been in the direction of the GOP,” Storey told The Hill in an interview. It wasn’t just the first flips, either. The election results so far suggest the hypothetical “blue wave” hit a red brick wall.
In Maine, the big news was that U.S. Sen. Susan Collins won re-election with a massive victory margin of nine points, despite polls claiming challenger Sara Gideon was up against Collins by seven or more points. Further, in this very blue state, at least eight Republican challengers flipped incumbent Democrat seats in the state House. Democrats only net-gained one state legislative seat in Maine this year despite outside leftist groups outspending conservative ones by three to one.
In New Hampshire, Republicans flipped both chambers of the statehouse from Democrat control.
In Iowa, Republicans expanded their House majority and defended their Senate majority.
In Pennsylvania, Republicans earned more seats in both the state Assembly and Senate.
In Michigan, Republicans maintained their control of the state House.
In North Carolina, Republicans held both legislative chambers, losing one Senate seat and gaining four House seats by unseating several incumbent Democrats.
One state Democrats targeted big was Texas, where they hoped to flip the House for the first time in two decades but failed to do anything despite gain one state Senate seat, despite spending tens of millions of dollars. Both legislative chambers and the governorship in Texas remain Republican.
In Alaska, The Hill reported, “Republicans appear to be in a position to break a bipartisan coalition that ran the [state] House for the last two years” by picking up seats.
In Rhode Island, long a Democrat stronghold, a Republican challenger unseated the incumbent state House speaker.
“It’s an epic underperformance by Democrats. For all the money spent, Democrats aren’t going to be able to draw a single new congressional district as a result of this election that they hadn’t been able to draw before,” Michael Behm, a lobbyist, told The Hill. “The Republicans have been able to protect every majority that they needed to that draws congressional lines.”
That will give Republicans a better foothold on state and federal races for a decade. During that time, blue states are also likely to lose U.S. House seats due to bleeding population numbers and red states are likely to pick some up, further enhancing the GOP’s positioning for the future. This also helps nudge the Electoral College a bit closer to Republicans, since House seats help determine Electoral College votes.
The Hill called Democrats’ state losses “a substantial blow to the party’s chances of wielding more influence in the decennial redistricting process ahead.” “Republicans successfully defended every chamber and majority that affects redistricting, said Adam Kincaid, executive director of the National Republican Redistricting Trust,” in an email to Stateline.
This unexpectedly strong showing for Republicans at the state level, which clearly also extended to U.S. congressional races, reinforces questions about the presidential vote tallies. As Politico noted and documented above and here, Republicans’ down-ballot victories include the very same states key to presidential victory where we are seeing recounts, lawsuits, and fraud accusations: “An abysmal showing by Democrats in state legislative races on Tuesday…denied them victories in Sun Belt and Rust Belt states” (emphasis added).
It would be odd, to say the least, if Trump were a “buoy” elevating unprecedented and unexpected Republican victories nationwide, including in states like Michigan and Pennsylvania, except for his own. People don’t vote for Republicans for state senator because of Trump but not also for Trump. There is no “red wave” without a crest.
Yet that is what Democrats and corporate media want us to resign ourselves to believing has happened, while crying and backstabbing about their historic electoral failures on caucus conference calls? Something is not adding up.
Any GOP establishment that prefers this kind of election result of deeper long-term power for the party excised of that meddlesome Trump should look long and hard at the switching vote totals in Georgia pushing the state into runoff elections, which Democrats are hoping will cost Republicans the U.S. Senate and give them unmitigated federal power for the next two years. Allowing Democrats to rig elections through voter fraud and media interference with public discourse now ensures these tactics will be accelerated and any GOP gains made this cycle become a Pyrrhic victory.