It’s not just about the House and the Senate. The outcomes of the various governors’ and state legislative races will be absolutely crucial for our politics going. Here’s an analysis of where we are on these races with one of my favorite analysts, Henry Olsen:
“Most discussions of the midterms focus on federal races for the House and the Senate. But nearly all states hold legislative elections this year, too, and 37 states will elect governors this fall. If the negative trends apparent at the federal level hit Republicans here, too, the repercussions could be felt in the party for years.
One might think that state and federal races would have different outcomes. After all, presidents and Congress have little to do with the issues that normally dominate state-level campaigns. Nevertheless, outcomes at each level tend to run in similar directions and with roughly equivalent dimensions.
Take the GOP “wave” election of 2010. Republicans not only picked up a massive 63 House and six Senate seats; they also gained six governorships and 680 state legislative seats. Democrats celebrated similar numbers four years earlier. In 2006, a Democratic landslide saw that party gain 31 House seats, six Senate seats, six governorships, and over 300 state legislative seats. Individual races might diverge from the national trend, but a wave will sweep all before it, no matter what level the race is at.
This bodes ill for Republicans running for governor this year. In part because many of the Republicans who won in 2010 are now term-limited out of office, Republicans must defend 11 governor’s chairs without the benefit of a previously elected incumbent. RealClearPolitics rates three of those seats as leaning to the Democrats with another six rated as toss-ups, including the large states of Florida, Georgia, and Ohio. GOP incumbents are also running in seven other states that by polling or by prior voting behavior raise caution flags. RealClear rates one of them, Illinois’ Bruce Rauner, as a likely loser, while incumbents in Wisconsin (Scott Walker) and Arizona (Doug Ducey) are considered toss-ups. Should Republicans lose the four races they trail in and only split the toss-ups, that would mean a net loss of eight governorships, the largest any party has lost in one election since the GOP picked up 11 in the historic 1994 wave.
Hundreds of state legislative seats are also in play. There’s lots of debate over when a seat should be considered vulnerable, but in the current environment most observers would probably agree that any Republican-held seat carried by either Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump with less than 50 percent of the vote qualifies for that distinction. A staggering 477 GOP-held statehouse seats fit these criteria. Another 202 Republican-held state Senate seats also fit the bill, though not all will be up for election because many states stagger senatorial terms. Losses of that magnitude would easily be the largest Republican losses in decades.”
Wave on, Big Blue, wave on!