Republicans now control the governorship and legislature in 26 states and conservative leaders say this trend continues to grow in Republicans’ favor.
“Over the last seven years since we have covered state legislatures and state executives pretty extensively, there’s been a significant shift from Democratic-controlled state governments to Republican,” Geoff Pallay, editor in chief at Ballotpedia, a website focused on elections, told The Daily Signal in a phone interview.
“Whatever happened in 2010 has remained,” Pallay said, adding:
So in 2010 there were 12 Republican governors elected who took over for Democrat governors as their predecessor. And then in 2014, 11 of those 12 won re-election. So the party didn’t change. So whatever the wave was in 2010 didn’t recede in 2014.
The trend of widespread Republican leadership continued.
Conrad Lucas, chairman of the West Virginia Republican Party, told The Daily Signal that he isn’t surprised by his state’s flip to GOP control on all three of those fronts.
“It isn’t necessarily surprising to us, because West Virginians are conservatives,” Lucas said, adding:
We’re a state where it’s very difficult for the Democrat Party to make an argument where it has the best interests of the state at heart, because as the Democrat Party has moved so far to the left. They directly attack the coal industry, they directly attack social conservative values. And obviously when you are attacking the state on both fiscal and social fronts as a party, it is very difficult for folks to vote for your candidates.
When Justice announced his party change during President Donald Trump’s rally in Huntington, West Virginia, he told attendees: “I can’t help you any more being a Democrat governor.”
“The Democrats aren’t even trying in a lot of these states,” Pallay said. “Arkansas is an example of this. Arkansas in 2010 was a Democrat trifecta. You had a Democratic governor and a Democratic-controlled state legislature. Now, you have a Republican trifecta and … the Democrat Party, they’re not even trying to win the state. The Democratic Party chair told us this much last June.”
Steve Moore, a visiting fellow for the Project for Economic Growth at The Heritage Foundation, told The Daily Signal in a phone interview that party control is determining the economic health of states.
“People are leaving blue states. Blue states are losing their political clout because people are leaving blue states,” Moore said, adding:
This is every day … roughly a thousand people every day leave blue states and move to red states, so that’s a big migration over a decade. … That’s like 4 million people over a decade … leaving New York and Connecticut and Illinois and Michigan and even California … and other states. People are voting with their feet against liberalism.
States’ party demographics also are changing because the Democratic Party has changed, Moore said.
“One of my hypotheses is that one of the things that is really killing the Democrat Party is the radical liberalism with the party,” he said, adding:
They keep putting climate change ahead of jobs, that’s just one example. Just look at the polls. What is the No. 1 or 2 issue for the last 10 years? Jobs, jobs, and the economy. So [President Barack] Obama would give these speeches on ‘the most important thing in the world is global warming,’ and I’m like, ‘Sorry, but nobody agrees with you.’ So you can keep saying that, but when you look at polls, where do people list climate change? It’s like No. 20 on the list.
(“No challenge poses a greater threat to future generations than climate change,” Obama said in his State of the Union address in 2015.)
Lucas, the West Virginia Republican Party chairman, said the trend for Republican leadership bodes well.
“Look at some of the states where we have the governor’s mansions now,” he said. “Massachusetts, Maine, Maryland, Vermont, these aren’t states where people initially would have a knee-jerk reaction to assume that there would be much Republican success. So I think the trend is going to continue, particularly considering the special election results post-Trump.”
“The results speak for themselves,” Lucas said. “The media narrative can be whatever they choose for it to be, but Republicans continue to win and the sky’s the limit.”
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