Meanwhile, Back in the States

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

Ed Kilgore, a Monthly contributing editor, is a columnist for the Daily Intelligencer, New York magazine’s politics blog, and the managing editor for the Democratic Strategist.