Political Animal


November 05, 2012 4:12 PM Meanwhile, Back in the States

By Ed Kilgore

You wouldn’t much know it from the national political media (including yours truly), but 44 states (all but Alabama, Louisiana, Maryland, Mississippi, New Jersey and Virginia) will be holding state legislative elections tomorrow. And while it won’t be quite as momentous an event as in 2010, since redistricting’s not on tap, we should have all learned from the hijinks in many states since then, and from the prominence of future decisions on issues ranging from abortion to Medicaid expansion, that it’s a very big deal.

Fortuntately, Stateline’s Josh Goodman offers a very succinct overview of the big picture:

In only about a dozen states is it likely that party control of one or both chambers will change hands. In other states, including large ones such as California, Texas, Florida, Georgia and North Carolina, the election is really about whether one party will win a supermajority, and the outcome will also have tangible and far-reaching consequences.

He goes on to mention Maine and Minnesota (both houses), Colorado and Oregon (House) and New York (Senate) as big Democratic targets for regaining majority control. Republicans are boasting of their chances for new majorities in Arkansas (both Houses), Alaska, Colorado, Iowa and Washington (Senate), and New Mexico (House).

If you are interested in state-by-state predictions, Louis Jacobson of PolitiFact has made them for Governing.

Goodman’s point about super-majorities is worth underlining. Winning a super-majority insulates the winning party from potential gubernatorial vetoes. In some states, it’s key to the ability to enact constitutional amendments, and/or to get ballot initiatives rolling. And in California, it’s essential to enact tax increases of any sort, which is why Democrats dealing with that state’s gi-normous fiscal crisis are gunning for super-majorities this year (particularly given the roughly even chance that Gov. Jerry Brown’s Prop 30, providing a fiscal lifeline to California’s floundering public education system, could be defeated).

One cautionary note about spin on overall state legislative gains and losses once the parties get around to them: the widely varying sizes of legislatures can make totaling numbers nationally highly misleading. For example: the lower House in New Hampshire has 400 members. California’s has 80.

We’ll make an effort here at PA to let you know what’s going on generally in legislative races tomorrow night and/or on Wednesday. And we may highlight each feature with this track from the New York Dolls (reprising a 50s classic):

Ed Kilgore is a contributing writer to the Washington Monthly. He is managing editor for The Democratic Strategist and a senior fellow at the Progressive Policy Institute. Find him on Twitter: @ed_kilgore.


  • PEA on November 05, 2012 6:32 PM:

    We in CA just found out TODAY some info on who gave a very secret $11 mil to scuttle one proposition (Gov Brown's --that would increase taxes to pay our bills w/o cutting the life out of our K-grad school systems) and promote a second (that would prohibit unions from using dues for political purposes).


    "Think of it as a daisy chain of secret money. The Fair Political Practices Commission described the scheme as the largest case of "campaign money laundering" in California's history. Money laundering is a misdemeanor in California, according to FPPC's chair Ann Ravel. (The state attorney general has the power to take action against ARL.)" this site has a fair amount of detail. But when he says it happened "tues" he really means today (Monday) -- talk about last minute!

    Big surprise, looking behind the names behind the names behind the names, which seem to link to one of Rove's crossroads groups and the Koch bros! They crave secrecy -- so let's unmask & neuter them big time!
    captcha: union oopeansh -- yeah!

  • rdale on November 05, 2012 10:17 PM:

    I can attest to the dangers of a supermajority; that's what we have in Utah, with the GOP owning both houses with veto-proof majorities, not to mention the governor and other major state offices. They run rampant over what We the People want, give their cronies favors, squash any kind of opposition, and in general behave like colonels in some banana republic.

  • TCinLA on November 06, 2012 12:09 AM:

    With any luck, come Wednesday morning we will see the Republican Party declared a seditious illegal conspiracy in California, followed by the descendants of the Okies going back to Oklahoma.

    Captcha: secession ceatyr - damn close!

    Personally, if the scum win, I'm in favor of California, Oregon and Washington seceding.

  • Abi on November 06, 2012 12:53 PM:

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