While focus of the 2008 elections was predominantly on the federal level, state elections showed that the so-called Democrat Tsunami largely occurred in 2006. In 2008, Republicans in the states came out fairly unscathed and in some places made important gains.
In the 2008 election, Republicans had a net loss of only 78 state legislators out of 7,382; compare to over 300 legislator losses in 2006. While Democrats picked up 5 state chambers this year, Republicans picked up 4. Democrats did take the New York Senate for the first time since 1964; but Republicans took control of the Tennessee House and Senate for the first time since the civil war and the Oklahoma Senate for the first time ever.
Republicans are also making inroads in areas that Democrats traditionally always take on the local level. Since reconstruction, Democrats have controlled the state legislatures of Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama. Until the 1980s, Democrats controlled over 80% of state legislative seats in southern states. Today, they control just 53% and that number continues to drop.
On the gubernatorial side, Democrats netted 6 offices in 2006, switching places with Republicans to control 28 of the 50 state governors’ mansions. This year, however, Republicans had a net loss of only one of the 11 gubernatorial races – after one-term Governor Matt Blunt left an open seat in Missouri. But looking forward to 2010, there are 36 governors’ offices that are up and 20 of them are held by Democrats.
A final note: since 1992, Republicans have a net gain of 7 state senate chambers, 2 state house chambers, 216 state legislators, and 1 governor’s office.
For ATR’s complete breakdown of post-election state legislatures, click here.