Democrats won a pair of state legislative seats in special elections Tuesday night in districts that President Trump carried by comfortable margins last fall, the latest in a string of down-ballot wins the party has pulled off in the Trump era.
Democrats won a Oklahoma statehouse seat that Trump won by an 11-point margin last fall by 60 percent to 40 percent last night, and picked up a New Hampshire statehouse seat by a 12-point margin in a district that Trump had won by 56 percent to 39 percent of the vote. Those mark 31- and 28-point swings towards Democrats, respectively.
Those wins bring the total number of Democratic pickups in the Trump era to six seats – they’d already won another seat in New Hampshire, two others in Oklahoma and one in New York. And as the Daily Kos points out, in more than two-thirds of the 36 state legislative special elections held this year Democrats have over-performed Hillary Clinton’s numbers in those districts.
That trend has carried over to Congress as well, where Democrats have consistently out-performed Clinton’s numbers in House special elections this year, though they’ve failed to win a race yet (Georgia’s 6th district was the only one they spent heavily to win, and they came up short there).
Democrats were decimated at the statehouse level during President Obama’s years in office — Republicans currently hold unified control of 25 state legislatures and governor’s offices, while Democrats have one-party control of just seven states. But if recent trends continue, they could be looking at a major bounce-back at the state legislative level, as well as having a real shot at winning back control of the House.
That could prove especially crucial, as the next round of redistricting will occur in 2021. Statehouse Republicans used their big 2010 wins to lock in control of many of these states for the last decade.