Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Democratic Strategy

I am currently working for Washington CAN, the oldest progressive non-profit in Washington State. We are getting out the vote in two districts currently, Washington State Legislative districts 30 and 44. If we succeed in flipping these two districts we could flip the entire Washington State House of Representatives which would is an essential step forward in getting progress in our state on important issues such as education, health care, and infrastructure which we all rely on.

The current state of United States legislatures is very poor. Democrats control only 7 state governments in full. Republicans control 23. 4 states have Democratic legislatures with a Republican governor, 11 states have democratic governors without control of the state legislatures. This means that Democrats are missing a pipeline of new talent for leading our country, will be unable to get constitutional amendments passed, and the Republicans have 31 out of the currently required 34 state legislatures to get through constitutional amendments. Given the shifting demographics of the United States, there is a lot of work that we can do right now to regain state legislatures to the point where major goals, such as Medicaid expansion, high quality infrastructure and other vital issues can be achieved. We will not get these issues passed however until our legislatures are made of people who actually care about the well being of the people, and given the state of the Republican party, that means they have to be Democrats.

A big cause of why state legislatures are overwhelmingly Republican is because of gerrymandering. State legislatures draw the boundaries for themselves in most states, and for Congress. The Democratic party needs to bring forward state initiatives in states across the country where gerrymandering has taken hold to use the single-split line method, and ideally ranked voting with multiple winners per race in order to make it so state legislatures more accurately represent the wishes of the American people. This will make it so Republicans will lose control across the country.

In order to make this happen, we have 4 easy pick ups this year with split legislatures. Democrats could easily pick up the state legislatures in Washington, Maine, Colorado, Kentucky, Iowa, Minnesota, New York, and New Mexico. Washington and Colorado only need the Democrats to pick up two seats in order to control the state. In New Mexico Democrats only need 4 more out of 70 seats. This would bring them to fully control 10 state governments, and then in 2018 pick up 4 more governorships to control 14 state governments around the country, with the Republicans still at 23 state governments and 31 legislatures.

Once we end the split governments, the states which need to be targeted next are Nevada, Montana, Pennsylvania, and New Hampshire. All of these states have less than a 20% split Democratic to Republican, and are good targets for Democrats to reclaim more governments. This will put Democrats at controlling 18 state governments, bringing Republicans down to 21 state governments and 27 state legislatures. Given their closeness to tipping, we cannot let them slip.

We also need to reclaim 6 governorships where Democrats control the state legislature, Maine, New Mexico, Illinois, New Jersey, Maryland, and Massachusetts.

Status (states) States (seats needed)
Hold governorship, hold legislature (7) Hawaii, Rhode Island, California, Delaware, Oregon, Vermont, Connecticut
Pick up governorship, hold legislature (4) Illinois, New Jersey, Maryland, Massachusetts
Pick up one house, retain governor (4) New York (9), Colorado (2), Washington (1), Minnesota (7)
Pick up one house, pick up governor (4) New Mexico (2), Maine (6), Iowa (8), Kentucky (9)
Pick up legislature, retain governor (3) Montana (7), Pennsylvania (25), New Hampshire (42),
Pick up legislature and governor (2) Nevada (7), Arizona (11)
This will give democrats control of 24 state governments by picking up 10 governorships and 142 seats in state legislatures (out of 7383 in total). This is doable.

Once Democrats focus and get out the vote in these 24 state governments, the remaining states we will need to focus on are Michigan, Virginia, Florida, Wisconsin, and Ohio. These 5 Republican controlled governments frequently vote for the Democratic President and elect Democratic Senators. This will give Democrats a majority of state governments. What this will mean for working families is more mass transit, better infrastructure, improved schools, and expanded access to Medicaid. If the Progressive wing of the party gains influence it will hopefully mean a more progressive tax code and more efficient government programs.

The 5 remaining stretch states which will give Democrats the 34 governments needed to approve constitutional amendments and dominate the country are Missouri, Kentucky, West Virginia, Louisiana because they have Democratic governors which will give Democrats 33 state governments. The one final state which Democrats would have the ability to gain will probably be Texas given massive demographic shifts over the next decade which will bring Texas into play by 2020. Georgia as well could be in play within a decade from demographic changes which is an extra bonus for the Democrats. Given the stubbornness of people who support Donald Trump, I expect at least another ten years of the alt-right having a significant impact on the Republican party. This is the opportunity of a generation for the Democrats to dominate the US and make significant changes beyond Obamacare to improve equality and opportunity for everybody.

Picking up another 27 state governments will be a monumental shift in American history. Of course state and county parties are going to need to be well organized to get great leaders running at all levels of government, but the national party should spend its resources to get real gains as soon as possible. Here is a rough schedule on how the National Democratic Party should focus on regaining state governments.

In 2016-2018 we need to focus on the states where we already control at least one house while retaining the 7 states we control. We could gain 12 state governments in the next two years, bringing us to 19 state governments by the time we get to the 2020 election.

In 2020-2022 we need to focus on the three states where we control the governorships (on top of the State Parties working hard over the next 4 years) which will bring us up to controlling 22 state governments in total.

In 2024-2026 we need to start to pick up the next 5 states I mentioned (if we haven't gotten them already) and whatever states in the preceding two lists we haven't managed to get.

Finally in 2028-2030 we could pick up the remaining 5 states to gain control of a supermajority of state governments across the country.

A lot can happen in 14 years of course, and it is possible Democrats could make these gains before 2030. I do believe however we should focus as much energy as possible on these local races to gain state governments. This is the only way we are going to be able to get progress on issues which improve the lives of all Americans which the Republicans have blocked for decades.

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