Election Day 2012 was a better day for Democrats than a lot of people realize.
Yes, President Obama won reelection. Yes, Democrats netted seats in the U.S. Senate. Yes, Democrats made gains in the U.S. House. But the down-ballot races gave the party a great deal to cheer about, too.
• In Maine, Democrats expected to reclaim at least one of the two legislative chambers they lost in 2010. Both the RSLC and the DLCC spent heavily in the state, but the Democrats clearly made the better investment-- they flipped both the state House and state Senate back to Democratic majorities. *Fun note: Remember the Democratic candidate the state GOP attacked for playing World of Warcraft? Well, she won.
• In Ohio, Republicans ran on a map they'd just redrawn to help themselves, but they failed to pick up a single seat in the state Senate. When the results of three outstanding House races come in, they may even have lost a seat in the lower chamber.
• In Arizona, Republicans lost their supermajorities in both the state House and state Senate. Three seats separate the Democrats from a Senate majority.
• Republicans failed in their push to retake the majority they lost in the Nevada Senate four years ago. Democrats successfully retained their one-seat margin and may have increased their majority in the state House.
• Democrats made significant gains in the Colorado state House, winning a majority in the chamber and giving Dems the state government trifecta (Dem Gov, Dem House majority, Dem Senate majority) there.
• Turns out Dems needn't have felt nervous about keeping their smallish majority in the New Mexico state House. Despite the significant investment into those races by Gov. Martinez and outside groups, Democrats actually managed to increase their majority.
• Despite GOP gerrymandering in Pennsylvania, Democrats scored "historic" pickups in the state Senate.
• Democrats not only hung on to their majority in the Iowa state Senate, but they also made gains in the House.
• Republicans still hold a narrow majority in the New Hampshire state Senate, but the state House regained the Democratic majority lost in 2010. Also worth noting in New Hampshire is the fact that Democrats picked up a majority on the state's Executive Council. Ah, the Granite State: when 400+ state legislators just aren't enough.
• Things are still shaking out a bit in Florida, but there's some statehouse news to report there: Republicans have lost their supermajorities in both chambers, and they likely held on to as many seats as they did only because of some effective partisan gerrymandering.
• Democratic gains broke the Republican supermajority in the Texas state House.
• Democrats took back the majorities they lost in the 2010 GOP wave in the Minnesota House and Senate, giving Dems a state government trifecta in there.
But while the GOP didn’t enjoy the same level of success as Democrats across the counrty, Republicans had some good news on Tuesday, too.
• Republicans retook the majority in the Wisconsin Senate they lost in last June's recall elections. The new, GOP-drawn legislative districts presented expected challenges to Democrats in both chambers.And speaking of state government, Democratic governors made out pretty well this year, too, losing only one previously Dem-held seat to a Republican despite massive spending by the RGA in what was generally anticipated to be a challenging year. Even though they were outspent by their GOP counterparts all across the country, the DGA and DLCC were big winners on Tuesday.
• Republicans picked up both legislative chambers in Arkansas. Interesting note: Of the three GOP candidates with reprehensible views on certain issues (two think slavery was an o.k. thing, one wants to deport all Muslims), nary a one won his election.
• In Georgia, a Democrat is mulling a party switch that would give Republicans a supermajority in the state
Stateside Associates has handy charts of state election results and changes.
And if after all this, you're thinking, Yeesh, this statehouse stuff is lame and trivial, check out Dave Weigel's explainer on how some ingenious gerrymandering helped Republicans retain their U.S. House majority. If Democrats had retained the state House majorities they had in Ohio and Pennsylvania prior to the 2010 elections, Republicans wouldn't have had complete control over redistricting in these states, and those congressional maps would have looked a bit different.
Democratic gains in statehouses aren’t just good news today; these wins also have positive implications for election cycles yet to come. State legislatures are “benches” for the parties, places where many political careers -- President Obama’s, for example -- get started. With the pickup of majorities in eight legislative chambers and hundreds of seats across the country, Democratic benches got a bit deeper on Tuesday.