Department of Loose Strings: In my last edition, I amazed and captivated you with my LES (List of Essential Statehouses) and associated ratings for each chamber. The marvelous folks at Daily Kos Elections put my ratings into a handy little spreadsheet, which I love, even though I'm about to screw it up.
- After more conversations with experts, fresh peeks at some data and polling, and a refreshed survey of state legislative elections coverage in key states, I've tweaked my ratings.
- Just as things are looking more dire for Democrats in many federal races, so, too, are many state legislative contests trending towards Republicans. Not everywhere, mind you, but in a lot of the places that matter.
And so, I present Essential Statehouses 2: Double Down. (Or 2 Essential 2 Statehouse. Or Electric Boogaloo. Whatever.)
Now with color coding!
- Arkansas House (48 D/51 R/1 G): Lean R
- Arizona Senate (13 D/17 R): Likely R
- Colorado House (37 D/28 R): Lean D
- Colorado Senate (18 D/17 R): Lean R
- Iowa House (47 D/53 R): Lean R
- Iowa Senate (26 D/24 R): Tossup
- Kentucky House (54 D/46 R): Lean D
- Maine Senate (19 D/15 R): Likely D
- Michigan House (50 D/59 R/1 I): Likely R
- Minnesota House (73 D/61 R): Lean D
- Nevada Assembly (27 D/15 R): Tossup
- Nevada Senate (11 D/10 R): Lean R
- New Hampshire House (212 D/174 R/13 vacancies): Tossup/¯\_(ツ)_/¯
- New Hampshire Senate (11 D/13 R): Lean R
- New Mexico House (37 D/33 R): Lean D
- New York Senate (26 D/30 R/5 IDC/2 vacancies): Tossup
- Oregon Senate (16 D/14 R): Likely D
- Pennsylvania Senate (23 D/27 R): Likely R
- Washington Senate (23 D/24 R/2 MCC): Tossup
- West Virginia House (53 D/47 R): Lean D
- Wisconsin Senate (15 D/18 R): Likely R
- You'll notice the list got a bit longer. That's because a lot of chambers with Democratic majorities that didn't look to be in play this year have definitely become competitive, and, if you're into that kind of thing, they should be on your radar.
- Basically, 2014 was destined to amount to
- Non-presidential turnout levels + Republican-drawn legislative district maps = Not a great election cycle for Democrats.
- But then factor in things like the lack of a strong Democrat at the top of the ticket (like Nevada), successful nationalizing of legislative races in states with abysmal Obama approval ratings (West Virginia, Arkansas, Kentucky, Colorado, etc.), way less money than the other guys (all over), and, well, Democrats could have a rough night.
Oh, well. Republicans should enjoy their successes while they can, because this is as good as it's going to get for them for the remainder of the decade.
- Shifting demographics, backlash against ultra-conservative agendas (Kansas gubernatorial, anyone?), and presidential turnout levels in two out of the next three elections (sorry, Virginia, New Jersey, Mississippi and Louisiana) make this cycle Democrats' likely nadir on the state legislative level.
- Or, as some jerk put it, "Republicans will make their hay while the sun shines this year, but it could be their last chance to do so for quite some time." Hay. Seriously.
Ugh, I've even bored myself. Back to the action.
- Despite the fact that Democrats are defending LOTS of chambers and could lose a half-dozen or more on Election Day, only a few should outcomes really give progressives indigestion. Like, serious gas.
- Iowa Senate: If Democrats lose their tiny majority here, the Republican governor and the GOP majority in the state House will be free to unleash a flood of ultra-conservative agenda items kept dammed up for years by Senate Majority Leader Mike Gronstal. Expect voter suppression, attacks on women's healthcare and choice, a so-called "right to work" constitutional amendment, and other right-wing romps.
- Arkansas House: Unless the polls are skewed, The Natural State's next governor is going to be a Republican. If Democrats fail to flip the GOP's tiny majority here, Republicans will be in complete control of the state's government, and the recent "private option" expansion of Medicaid could be at risk.
- Kentucky House: If this chamber flips to Republican control, Democratic Gov. Steve Beshear could have a rough final year. If a Republican replaces him in 2015, Republicans will have complete legislative and executive control of the state.
- Also, Rand Paul would totally be able to run for Senate and President simultaneously.
- Nevada Assembly and Senate: Early vote numbers are terrible for Democrats all across the state. Democrats' one-seat majority in the state Senate was always in jeopardy; now, dismal early vote numbers in more than a half-dozen Democratic state Assembly districts in Clark County are putting that chamber solidly in play, too (Republicans need seven to outright flip it, butt one Democrat who feels crapped on already plans to caucus with the GOP in the event of a tie).
- If Democrats lose both the Senate and Assembly tomorrow, Republican Gov. Sandoval will be free to push his conservative agenda and build a record of policy accomplishments that will help him run for... other things.
Well, we all know that state legislatures are home to the hottest action this cycle, but let's not forget that other fun down-ballot devil: Ballot Measures.
Tomorrow, voters will decide on new laws and amendments ranging from groovy to unfortunate to terror vomit-inducing. Here are few high/lowlights:
- Personhood and choice: Colorado's Amendment 67, which would criminalize all abortions (nothing in the amendment excepts pregnancies resulting from rape or incest or abortions required to save the life or health of the mother) and outlaw in vitro fertilization and some forms of contraception, appears to be on its way to defeat. A recent poll had 54% of respondents rejecting it, with 32% in favor and 14% undecided.
- North Dakota also has a personhood amendment on the ballot, but it's even more expansive. Measure 1's provisions cover "any stage of development," which includes end-of-life care, too, technically. If a terminally ill patient's advance directives conflict with Measure 1, a doctor might feel obligated to override them.
- Voters in Tennessee will decide whether to give their state lawmakers more control over women's bodies. Currently, the state Constitution offers greater privacy protections than even the federal Constitution, and those protections include a women's right to terminate a pregnancy.
- State lawmakers don't think ladies need that much privacy and are asking voters to approve language specifically excepting the state Constitution from covering abortion issues (Amendment 1), freeing those lawmakers up to slap new laws all over lady parts.
- Voting: Voters in Connecticut will decide whether to make absentee voting a little easier by removing constitutional restrictions that currently prevent casting early or absentee ballots without a reason.
- Voters in Missouri, meanwhile, are voting on that sneaky amendment that allows up to six days of early voting, but prohibits it on evenings and weekends and is completely contingent on the GOP-dominated legislature allocating sufficient funds in a given year to cover the costs. Because, sure, that'll happen. Republicans are SO INTO early voting and will totally bother to fund it every two years.
- A Montana referendum (LR-126) would end the state's practice of Election Day voter registration, instead ending it the Friday before the election. The GOP-controlled legislature, tired of Democratic governors' vetoes, sidestepped executive approval entirely by placing the measure on the ballot.
Well, the money's been spent, the mail has all dropped, and tomorrow will see the end of incessant political TV ads (except for maybe Louisiana and Georgia, those poor bastards), and it's all over but the crying, so to speak.
- Determining which party wins majorities in which legislative chambers will take many, many hours -- in some places, even days. But I'll be there through the whole slog, and when you get tired of wondering what X party's control of the U.S. Y means for Z, I'll have my Epic Statehouse Post-Election Roundup ready for consumption.
- Or mostly ready. Depends on your attention span for everything else + how much Sugar Free Red Bull I can drink before going blind.
The following 4 state legislatures are meeting actively this week: MASSACHUSETTS, MICHIGAN, NEW JERSEY and VIRGINIA.
Also meeting: DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA and PUERTO RICO.
The National Association of Medicaid Directors will hold its Fall Conference November 3-5 in Arlington, Virginia.
The National Association of Counties will hold its Rural Action Caucus (RAC) Retreat November 6-8 in Billings, Montana.
On November 4, 2014
The following 36 states will hold elections for the Office of the Governor: ALABAMA, ALASKA, ARIZONA, ARKANSAS, CALIFORNIA, COLORADO, CONNECTICUT, FLORIDA, GEORGIA, HAWAII, IDAHO, ILLINOIS, IOWA, KANSAS, MAINE, MARYLAND, MASSACHUSETTS, MICHIGAN, MINNESOTA, NEBRASKA, NEVADA, NEW HAMPSHIRE, NEW MEXICO, NEW YORK, OHIO, OKLAHOMA, OREGON, PENNSYLVANIA, RHODE ISLAND, SOUTH CAROLINA, SOUTH DAKOTA, TENNESSEE, TEXAS, VERMONT, WISCONSIN and WYOMING.
The following 31 states will hold elections for the Office of the Attorney General:ALABAMA, ARIZONA, ARKANSAS, CALIFORNIA, COLORADO, CONNECTICUT, DELAWARE, FLORIDA, GEORGIA, IDAHO, ILLINOIS, IOWA, KANSAS, MARYLAND, MASSACHUSETTS, MICHIGAN, MINNESOTA, NEBRASKA, NEVADA, NEW MEXICO, NEW YORK, NORTH DAKOTA, OHIO, OKLAHOMA, RHODE ISLAND, SOUTH CAROLINA, SOUTH DAKOTA, TEXAS, UTAH, VERMONT and WISCONSIN.
The following 46 states will hold elections for state legislative seats: ALABAMA, ALASKA, ARIZONA, ARKANSAS, CALIFORNIA, COLORADO, CONNECTICUT, DELAWARE, FLORIDA, GEORGIA, HAWAII, IDAHO, ILLINOIS, INDIANA, IOWA, KANSAS, KENTUCKY, MAINE, MARYLAND, MASSACHUSETTS, MICHIGAN, MINNESOTA, MISSOURI, MONTANA, NEBRASKA, NEVADA, NEW HAMPSHIRE, NEW MEXICO, NEW YORK, NORTH CAROLINA, NORTH DAKOTA, OHIO, OKLAHOMA, OREGON, PENNSYLVANIA, RHODE ISLAND, SOUTH CAROLINA, SOUTH DAKOTA, TENNESSEE, TEXAS, UTAH, VERMONT, WASHINGTON, WEST VIRGINIA, WISCONSIN and WYOMING.
In addition, LOUISIANA, MISSISSIPPI and VIRGINIA will hold special elections.
The City of Little Rock will hold its general election November 4. Mayor Mark Stodala (D) was first elected as Mayor of Little Rock in 2006.
The Marcellus Shale Safe Drilling Initiative Advisory Commission will meet November 5 to discuss the draft risk assessment regarding traffic risks, road damage and greenhouse gas impacts.
The Joint Subcommittee on Recurrent Flooding will meet November 5 to discuss the problem of flooding. (Glad they cleared that up.)
The Utilities and Transportation Commission will meet November 5 to discuss proposed amendments to its rules relating to renewable energy requirements for electric companies.