WASHINGTON: On Tuesday 44 states will hold state legislative elections and more than 6,000 of the roughly 7,400 seats across the country will be up for grabs. Nothing matters more in state capitols than which party is the majority. Even if its edge is only a seat or two, the majority party can often control the agenda and approve legislation on its own. For that reason, Democrats and Republicans are competing fiercely where majorities are at stake.
Yet, in most places they are not at stake. In only about a dozen states — not Ohio — is it likely that party control of one or both chambers will change hands.
Nationwide, Democrats are trying to bounce back from the stinging rebuke they suffered in 2010. The National Conference of State Legislatures reports that in 2010 Republicans took 720 seats and more than 20 chambers away from Democrats. Today, Republicans hold majorities in roughly 60 of the nation’s 99 legislative chambers.
But with the presidential race a dead heat in most national polls, no one expects power to shift as dramatically toward one party or the other, as it did in 2010 or in 2006.
Chris Jankowski, president of the Republican State Leadership Committee, points out that through the once-a-decade redistricting process that follows each Census, Republicans won key victories before any 2012 ballots were cast. Republicans, for example, won control of the Ohio House in 2010. Now, thanks in part to the favorable district map the party devised, that majority isn’t seen as being in serious doubt, even though Ohio is the nation’s hottest presidential battleground.