All cycle long, we've been tracking open seats for the U.S. House, and now Daily Kos Elections has added a new tool to our arsenal: a tracker for open seats in state legislatures around the country. This new spreadsheet offers two tabs: (1) a state-by-state summary of both open seats and, for good measure, uncontested seats; and (2) a district-by-district list of all open seats, including presidential performance in those seats.
Note that we're only adding states after their filing deadlines pass, otherwise it's just too much of a moving target; so far, that's just Illinois and Texas. But some patterns are already emerging. Thirty Republicans in these two states aren't seeking re-election compared with just 12 Democrats. That proportion is similar to what we're seeing for the House, where 31 Republicans and 15 Democrats are retiring.
The uncontested seats (that is, where one major party isn't fielding a candidate) tell the same story. Republicans aren't running in fully 90 Democratic-held districts, while Democrats are leaving just 41 GOP seats unchallenged. And those big disparities between the two sides both in uncontested and open seats speaks to a serious enthusiasm gap that’s favoring Democrats. We'll be adding more data in the next couple of weeks, as filing deadlines are coming up in a bunch of states (bookmark our complete calendar), so we'll soon see just how widespread these phenomena are.
We strongly suspect, though, that we’ll be seeing lots of Republicans heading for the exits. And given the crucial role that state lawmakers play in redistricting, winning back legislatures this year is hugely important for determining who will control the House in the next decade, as well as what kinds of progressive legislation Democrats can enact at the state level. The more open GOP seats there are this November, the better Democrats will fare at both.