Governors and State Legislatures 2016
Republicans further cemented their control of state governments in this year’s elections. They will control the governor’s office and both chambers of the state legislature, a governing trifecta, in four more states — Iowa, Kentucky, Missouri and New Hampshire.
The net effect of the elections Tuesday will be that Republicans will have a trifecta in 24 states, while Democrats will have just six, as of Friday.
Michael Mishak and Ben Wieder report at Time:
While Democrats picked up a trifecta in one state, they lost trifectas in two others.
The losses are a harsh rebuke to President Obama’s call in October for Democrats to make gains in state legislatures when it appeared that Donald J. Trump’s campaign was stumbling.
Defending eight of the 12 governorships on the ballot Tuesday, Democratic candidates and the political groups backing them narrowly outspent Republicans on TV ads by about $2.5 million, according to a Center for Public Integrity analysis of data from media tracker Kantar Media/CMAG. That’s a reversal from 2012, when Republican candidates and committees outspent Democrats by more than $20 million.
Democrats were trying to play catch-up with the fundraising heavyweights of the GOP. Spending on TV ads was only a part of their campaign strategy, to be sure, but those commercials play a critical role in shaping public opinion.
Just three seats were considered safe for Democrats, who had to defend governorships in five of the seven most competitive races, including contests in states Obama lost in 2012 that Donald Trump would go on to win: West Virginia, Montana and Missouri.
North Carolina remained a lone spot of hope for the party that sought to flip it from Republican control. Democratic ad spending topped $19 million in the state — more than one-quarter of the $65 million Democrats spent nationally on governors’ races in 2016. As of early Wednesday, the too-close-to-call race could be headed to a recount, though Democrat Roy Cooper had claimed victory.
Democratic Governors Association spokesman Jared Leopold remained sanguine about the results. “Democrats also will likely hold all three of our incumbents: Governors Steve Bullock, Jay Inslee and Kate Brown,” he said. “Republicans initially eyed a 4-seat net gain in 2016, and it appears they will fall short.”
Now, Democrats are looking ahead. Already struggling with a thin bench of political stars, Democrats said reversing their shrinking ranks in the states is essential to the future of the party.
“To run people for president and Senate, you have to have governors getting ready in the bullpen,” said Matt Bennett, a senior official with Third Way, a centrist Democratic think tank.