A huge shout out and thank you to Alex Wagner of MSNBC for giving my previous article a much needed data boost! I spent almost two hours the other day trying to research the factual breakdown between total HOP control and total Democratic control of state legislatures, but couldn’t do it. And in about thirty seconds, Wagner not only did that, she gave me a bonus.
A quick recap. In my previous article I wrote about how the RNC went all in on state legislatures in the 2010 midterms, the object being to control the state lower chambers as well as the Governor’s mansion in order to control the redistricting maps from the census, with an eye towards enduring GOP control, both in the state legislature as well as the US House. It worked even better than the GOP had hoped, and we’ve spent the last 12 years living under the yoke of GOP Permanent minority rule. Time after time the Democrats won the majority of the statewide vote, but couldn’t make a nick in the legislature because of how their votes were packed together.
But I couldn’t get either the original 2011 GOP/Democratic state control split, nor any update since then. So, Alex Wagner to the rescue. In her A-block tonight Wagner stated that in 2011, the year of the Great GOP Gerrymander Experiment, the Democrats held a severely underwhelming total of six states under unified Democratic control. She didn’t say how many the GOP held, but for our purposes it’s not mission critical.
Remember, the whole purpose of gerrymandering is to allow a party heading towards minority status with the voters to maintain a majority in the legislature by creatively packing the votes. The object is to stay in power long after your voter popularity shelf life has expired.
As I’ve also explained, no gerrymander is perfect. As a general rule, the last two voting cycles before a new census year are the least effective. This is due to things like states attracting new younger, more liberal voters due to corporate expansion, and general minority population migration. But hell, if you gerrymandered properly, you’ll win in the census year, and just draw new and improved maps the next year.
But if what Alex said is true, then the GOP’s wunderkind gerrymandering experiment working out so well, and apparently under the radar it hasn’t for some years now. Because while in 2011 the Democrats only held unified government in a lousy six states, by the time the counting was done in 2022, the Democrats had rocketed up to a very respectable 17 states under unified Democratic control. And I’m here to tell you folks, there’s no goddamn way that a political party flips 11 states in one lousy voting cycle. Obviously the GOP rot has been going on for longer than I thought, just incrementally enough to keep it from being noticed.
So, how did it happen? Let’s take a quick trip down electoral memory lane, and see if we can extrapolate. 2912 was a presidential election year, and Obama rolled, so it’s not beyond the pale that the Democrats picked up a state or two. 2018 was Obama’s last midterm, and the Democrats lost seats, which makes any pick ups less likely. But what happens next is where I think the wheels fell off of the bus for the GOP.
2016 was the year of Traitor Tot. But while Il Douche won the electoral college, the GOP lost the popular vote by some three million votes. And considering how small the average state legislative district is, I don’t find it hard to believe that the Democrats may have picked up a state or two in losing the White House.
But then the wheelless bus went off the cliff for the GOP. 2018 was El Pendejo Presidente’s first, and so far only midterm election. And for the GOP it was a combination of Waterloo, the Alamo, and Pearl Harbor all rolled into one. The Democrats flipped 40 seats in the House, and clobbered the GOP nationally by almost double the vote loss the GOP suffered in 2016. It would amaze me if the Democrats didn’t make some serious inroads into GOP controlled legislatures in that midterm year.
2020 was Trump’s personal Waterloo. And it didn’t help the GOP either. Trump and the GOP lost by even more votes nationally in 2018, which was more than 2016. But there’s a caveat that journalistic integrity demands I make. While Trump lost by more votes, many white suburban GOP women voters voted for Biden or left the top of the ticket blank, while voting for sane GOP candidates down ballot. So without more data, I can’t honestly opine on how many states the Democrats may have picked up in 2020.
But 2022 was the Democratic coup d’ grace. In 2022 the Democrats flipped a lovely 4 states, including Maryland, and the critical swing states of Michigan and Minnesota. But from where I’m sitting, it’s impossible to overstate the importance of every single one of those flips, from 2012 to 2022. And here’s why.
No matter how many states the Democrats flip, they can’t even begin to undo the damages of GOP gerrymandering in the states unless they hold at least the state House and the Governor’s mansion in 2031, the year after the next census. But that doesn’t mean that they can’t start to undo some of the amage, and lay the groundwork for 2013.
Here’s what I mean. In every state that the Democrats flipped, they already have, and now control their own destiny. If their heads are on straight, they can pass laws on things like expanding Medicaid in states that didn’t have it, raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour, codify abortion rights into law or the state constitution, expand voting rights, ease voter ID restrictions, make universal mail in ballots available, extend early and absentee and in person voting periods, increase the number of voting drop boxes, especially in minority neighborhoods, make voting day registration available, and reinforce and strengthen Electoral College rules to stop GOP chicanery.
Now granted, none of these things, in or by themselves make amy direct effect on current GOP gerrymandering. But all of them will make the Democrats more popular in the state, and increase the availability of voting for minorities more readily available, making it more likely that the Democrats will hold at least the House and Governors seats in 2031.
In closing, I feel justified in my previous article, the rot has just been going on for longer than I thought. But when you look at it cycle by cycle, the implication is clear. Regardless of gerrymandering, in the end it call comes down to candidate quality. If you’re going to keep putting up slates of the shittiest candidates in human history, you’re going to lose. And seeing how the House GOP is doubling down on shitty candidates, they run the risk of winning the short term national war, they run the grievous risk of losing the state war, which could turn them into a permanent minority party as early as 2032. Don’t touch that dial.