The Senate and House races are taking up most of the oxygen in mediaworld, but there were other important elections last Tuesday as well. One level of the political system that always flies below the radar (unfortunately) is the state legislatures. This is doubly important now because the Supreme Court appears hell-bent on abolishing the federal government and giving all governmental power to the states. So it matters enormously which party controls the various state legislatures and whether there are any trifectas where one party runs the show completely.
On the state legislature front, changes occurred in a number of states, none of them favorable to the Republicans. As a general rule, the president's party usually loses a few state legislative chambers. That didn't happen last week. The Democrats didn't lose any of the 99 state legislative chambers (Nebraska has a unicameral legislature). If everything goes as it now appears to be going, this will be the first time since 1934 when the president's party held onto all of its legislature chambers That in itself is unusual.
In addition, the Democrats flipped the Michigan state Senate as well as the state Houses in Michigan, Minnesota, and Pennsylvania. Races in Arizona and New Hampshire that haven't been called yet could result in Democrats flipping chambers in those states as well. On the other hand, Republicans strengthened their positions in both chambers in Florida, the state Senates in Iowa, North Carolina, and Wisconsin, as well as in the South Carolina House. But these were chambers they already controlled.
Republicans have been focusing on winning state legislatures for over a decade. For the first time in more than 10 years, Democrats made the state legislatures a priority this time, pouring money into state races, which is why they did so well.
It now appears that Democrats will have won the trifecta in four "M" states: Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan and Minnesota. In the first two, the missing piece of the puzzle was the governorship, not the legislature. But now the Democrats can do whatever they want in those four states. For example, they could pass laws making voting easier rather than more difficult. They could even join the national trend of embracing all-mail elections, as is increasingly common in the West. If they are really ambitious, they could gerrymander both the congressional map and the state map in all of them but Michigan (which uses a redistricting commission). The Constitution requires this to be done once every 10 years but does not forbid interim readjustments. Texas Republicans did that in 2003 just to get more power.
If they are really, really, ambitious, Michigan and Minnesota could join the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact, to which Massachusetts and Maryland already belong. These states promise to award all of the their electoral votes to the winner of the popular vote for president. If states with 270 electoral votes join, this will de facto eliminate the Electoral College (and make this site no longer necessary... at least until we put into effect our long-simmering plan to shift our focus to quilt patterns and gluten-free pizza recipes). However, the Compact doesn't kick in until states with 270 EVs sign up. If Michigan and Minnesota join, states with 220 EV's will be in there. If states with 50 more EVs join, its a done deal. However, Republican politicians don't want to elect the president by popular vote, so getting 50 more will require flipping more states from red to blue.
Nationally, the Republicans are still in the lead in state legislative chambers, controlling 53 of them vs. the Democrats' 38. Chambers in Alaska, Arizona, Nevada, and New Hampshire haven't been called yet. For the next 2 years, Republicans will have at least 23 trifectas and Democrats will have at least 14. This reflects the fact that many of the states in the South and the low-population states in the Midwest and West are very Republican. In 2024, 86 of the 99 state chambers will hold elections of at least some of the members.
In addition to the trifectas, Republicans have 23 triplexes and Democrats have 18. A triplex is where one party controls the state offices for governor, attorney general, and secretary of state. (V)