Democrats were able to defend every state legislative chamber under their control this year – making it the first midterm election since 1934 in which the party in power did not lose a chamber.
They were also able to flip the chambers in several states, a change from previous midterm cycles where Democrats have struggled at the state level. In Pennsylvania, Democrats regained control of the State House for the first time since 2010. He flipped the Minnesota Senate and both houses in Michigan for the first time in a decade, giving the party the trifecta in both states. In Wisconsin and North Carolina, Democrats prevented Republicans from gaining a majority, protecting the veto power of Democratic governors. And in New Hampshire, control of the House remains unknown for nearly two weeks after the election.
In a memo shared for the first time with CBS News, the Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee (DLCC) said the victory served as a lesson for Democrats up and down the ballot.
DLCC President Jessica Post wrote, “Democrats made history in state legislatures this year – defying the odds, advancing political wisdom, and setting a blueprint for Democratic victories at the state legislative level.” She credited early investing and helping local leaders and said that unlike in 2010, Democrats would be able to take offense this decade. Now, the DLCC is calling on the party to continue building from the ground up.
The Post argued that some of the obstacles Democrats faced this year stemmed from GOP control of some of the country’s state legislatures because it is the legislature that often controls the way congressional districts are drawn.
The Post wrote, “Democratic efforts to control the US House are more difficult than ever because of Democrats’ failure to invest in state legislatures.” “In many states Congressional Democrats were running in districts rigged by Republican state legislators. If Democrats want to fight back against the MAGA agenda and make our country better for all Americans, that work starts in the state legislatures.” Should be.”
The state-level successes come on the heels of redistricting. According to the National Democratic Redistricting Committee (NDRC), there are many reasons why Democrats won in 2022, but investment in state-level races was only one part of it.
“That was a big lesson of the last decade, that Democrats needed to focus more on states and state-level infrastructure, and I think you’ve seen the party really rally over the last several cycles, and in 2022 It was the culmination of that investment,” said NDRC President Kelly Burton.
The NDRC began its work before the actual redistribution process. Compared to the previous decade, Republican control over the redistricting process has decreased by more than 20%. Burton said that without such efforts the result would have been worse for the Democrats. He believes that the party will continue to invest heavily at the state level as it is reaping benefits.
The DLCC began sending money to legislative candidates for the late fall of 2022 and released its strategy in what it believes will be the most competitive states in the spring. In total, DLCC raised and spent $50 million in this round, which passed the 2018 midterms. Its finance team also helped state partners raise more than $105 million for goals this election season.
The memo noted that two key topics were front and center during this election cycle as part of its winning strategy: abortion rights and protecting democracy.
The DLCC recognized that abortion rights would soon be a major factor in state legislative elections and launched the States to Save Roe website even before the Supreme Court overturned the landmark Roe v. Wade decision in January. Thereafter it continued to capitalize on the issue “at every turn”.
The committee also worked to call all Republicans “MAGA extremists” and warned that Republicans posed a potential threat to democracy. As part of that, he took aim at state officials like Doug Mastriano of Pennsylvania for former President Trump’s speech on January 6, 2021 in Washington, DC.
At the same time, the candidates continued to address how they would reduce costs, the memo said, rebuffing some attacks by Republicans amid rising inflation. Some efforts included direct relief checks, tax rebates or working to cut child and health care costs.
While the DLCC is calling on the party to build on its 2022 successes, it was not alone in its efforts to increase the number of Democrats in state legislatures and the Senate. The States Project invested nearly $60 million in the State Rooms, the most in a single cycle by an outside effort.
The DLCC is now looking to 2024, helping to defend majorities as well as flip seats in states like New Hampshire and Arizona. Next year, Virginia is also a battleground state with its off-year elections.
While Republicans lost the chamber in 2022 – they saw representation increase in several states. In Florida, where the party already had the trifecta, Republicans were able to win majorities in both the State House and the Senate. They were also able to win at least one chamber supermajority in Iowa, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Wisconsin. In Oregon, GOP candidates also gained seats – ending the Democrats’ supremacy in the state.
In a memo to donors after the election, the Republican State Leadership Committee (RSLC) said it had its best fundraising cycle to date, but pointed to significant spending losses. Overall, the RSLC spent a record $30 million, but outspending by Democratic groups combined four to one at the state legislative level.