The four states that held primaries last night for the coming 2018 elections — Ohio, Indiana, North Carolina and West Virginia — are overwhelmingly controlled by the GOP. Republicans control all eight state legislative bodies within them, with 396 Republican state legislators compared with 189 Democrats. Three of the four states are Republican trifectas, meaning the GOP controls their governorships in addition to all of their legislative bodies.
If Democrats hope to claim and sustain majority status in Congress anytime soon, they will need to reverse this GOP domination of state governments in 2018. State legislators who are elected in 2018 will be among those tasked with rewriting the maps for the 2020 redistricting. As a result, a vote in 2018 can have an impact for a decade. The importance of this was explained by infamous Bush operative Karl Rove who in 2010 said, “He who controls redistricting, can control Congress.”
Republicans clearly understood the importance of redistricting 10 years ago and strategized accordingly. Now, the GOP controls almost every body of government in the US: The House, Senate, White House, 33 governorships and 69 of 99 state legislative bodies.
The GOP’s electoral successes occur, however, even though the country is moving left on economic issues and social issues. Support for gay marriage, legal marijuana, guaranteed health care and citizenship for undocumented immigrants is at an all-time high. Support for military interventionism is down. On the whole, young voters are well to the left of their older generations, and only 42 percent say they prefer capitalism to socialism.
The fact that the US government is leaning right, even as the populace is leaning left is a problem in a representative democracy. This disjunction was particularly apparent when Senate Republicans addressed health care policy, the top concern for Americans, according to numerous polls. The