Monday, December 30, 2013

Partisanship in State Legislatures At All-Time High

The Washington Post has a fascinating story in the Sunday paper which documents the increased partisanship at the state legislative level. In 37 states a single party completely controls the levers of power: 23 states are controlled by Republicans and 14 are controlled by Democrats (12 states have split control and Nebraska has a nonpartisan unicameral).
The values that underpin these governing strategies reflect contrasting political visions, and the differences can be seen in stark terms in the states. In a red state such as Texas, government exists mostly to get out of the way of the private sector while holding to traditional social values. In blue states such as California and Maryland, government takes more from taxpayers, particularly the wealthy, to spend on domestic priorities while advancing a cultural agenda that reflects the country’s growing diversity. 
Control in the states today is more closely aligned with voting patterns in presidential elections than in the days when conservative Democrats dominated state and local elections in the South and moderate Republicans held greater sway in the North. 
Karl Kurtz, a political scientist at the National Conference of State Legislatures, noted in an article published this year that Republicans control both houses of the legislatures in 22 of the 24 states carried by Mitt Romney in 2012 and that Democrats hold majorities in 18 of the 26 states won by Obama. 
The eight Obama states that have full or partial Republican control are or recently have been presidential battlegrounds. These are Florida, Iowa, Michigan, New Hampshire, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia and Wisconsin.
It's an interesting article. It will be very easy to take stock of the partisanship tally at the end of the 2014 midterm elections.

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