The hundreds of legislative seats and gubernatorial offices won by Democrats in 2018 and bolstered in 2019’s off-year elections were all paid for out of Republican gains in prior election cycles. Republicans still hold state government trifectas – control of both chambers of the state legislature and a the governorship – in 21 states compared to Democrats 15.
But like poker, politics is a game where momentum matters.
Democratic wins in a big states like Virginia give them control of redistricting for a substantial number of seats. Furthermore, stripping Republican control from large prizes like Ohio and Pennsylvania will buffer them from the partisan handicaps they endured for the past decade.
The real test will come in 2020. While the presidential race will dominate the headlines, its down ballot effects will have the longest lasting consequences.
If Democrat turnout, typically bolstered during presidential election years and potentially goosed by anti-Trump fervor, spills over Republicans’ structural barricades, the cascading effect could be tremendous for Democratic efforts to draw the next set of lines in 2021.
Republicans have a lot at stake heading into the 2020 election and may already be on tilt. With a chunk of their stake already lost, the could find the rest at risk quickly.
If they aren’t careful, they’ll end up just like Teddy KGB, frustrated and angry uttering, “They beat us straight up. Pay them. Pay them their legislative seats.”
Mario Nicolais is an attorney and columnist who writes on law enforcement, the legal system, health care and public policy. Follow him on Twitter: @MarioNicolaiEsq
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