Tuesday, July 20, 2010


Over at RCP, Sean Trende points to some recent polling data suggesting that Republicans are liable to pick up a substantial number of governors' seats in November, leaving Democrats with their smallest percentage of governors since Reconstruction.  I'm not sure this will happen (Trende is also quite confident that the GOP will take over the House, which is far from certain.  Also, as Trende notes, the latest polling doesn't account for some recent meltdowns like Scott McInnis' here in Colorado), but this strikes me as an important topic that doesn't get enough attention in election coverage.

What would it mean for the GOP to occupy three quarters of the governors' mansions? Well, as Trende points out, the big impact in the near term would be in the area of redistricting.  In states where the legislature gets to draw up the new maps, those legislatures would suddenly need to accommodate the views of a Republican governor.  That could mean an entirely different approach to redistricting: A Democratic-run legislature might seek an incumbent-protection approach, protecting everyone's districts, rather than trying to gain new seats for Democrats.  A Republican-run legislature might do the opposite, claiming more House seats for their party.

It gets more complicated in other states where commissions determine the shape of the new legislative maps.  The governor may have an impact on those commissions, but it's far less direct.

Has anyone seen projections for the number of state legislative seats Republicans are poised to pick up or lose?  That would be an extremely useful statistic, although I don't know of any website dedicated to this.

(h/t Kyle)


Anonymous said...

What would it mean for the GOP to occupy three quarters of the governors' mansions?

This effect might be muted by a few things.

First, some states will (probably) still have veto-proof majorities of Democrats. I would bet that MD, on that list, will be in that camp. And a few states have overrides by simple majority, so D legislature and R governor isn't likely to be too different from D legislature and D governor.

Second, in some states a D legislature might prefer to send have their plans rejected and throw it into the courts than try to assemble a plan that either the governor won't veto or that a few Republicans will support.

I can't think of anyone doing projections of state legislative elections. Given how little information is available outside the biggest states, that seems... hard.

Josh Putnam said...

I second the call for a website that tracks state legislative projections. Given the season, some industrious grad student should take up the cause. PPP does a pretty good job of keeping tabs on the state legislative outlook here in NC, but I don't know about everywhere else.

The 50Stateblogs Twitter feed may be a decent place to start a kind of inadvertent crowdsourcing of it. You could perhaps cobble together an ad hoc look at the state of play in each state that way.