Now that more of the legislative outcomes from Western states are confirmed, here’s an update of how much ground the Democratic Party gained in state legislatures this year.
Going into Tuesday, Republicans controlled both legislative chambers in 20 states, Democrats controlled 19, and the rest were split. Now, Democrats control 23, Republicans 16, and the rest are split. A recount in the Pennsylvania house could take the GOP number down to 15. Nine chambers flipped to the Democrats, only one — the Montana house, interestingly — flipped to the GOP. Two senates went from Democrat to tied, in Oklahoma and, again, Montana. Both senates will still be run by Democrats, by the way, as they hold the tie-breaking statewide offices.
Remember when Democrats said Montana would be the next Colorado? Well, yes, a Democrat won the governor’s race two years ago and John Tester, with crucial help from a Libertarian, beat Conrad Burns for Senate this year. But Republicans gained in both houses of the legislature. Still, on balance an excellent year for Democrats in state elections. Not quite 1994 level, when Republicans won nearly 500 legislative seats and 20 chambers, but still impressive (320 seats, net gain of 6 or 7, counting ties).