The numbers speak for themselves. President Obama’s two terms of office have coincided with perhaps the most disastrous period in the Democratic Party’s history.
Republicans added to their historic 2014 gains in the nation’s state legislatures with the addition of five state House chambers and two state Senate chambers in last week’s election, while Democratic control was reduced to levels not seen since the Civil War.
Republicans are now in control of a record 67 (68 percent) of the 98 partisan state legislative chambers in the nation, more than twice the number (31) in which Democrats have a majority, according to the bipartisan National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL).
“That’s more than at any other time in the history of the Republican Party,” according to NCSL. “They also hold more total seats, well over 4,100 of the 7,383, than they have since 1920.”
Next year, the GOP will control both legislative chambers in 32 states – an all-time high, according to NCSL – while Democrats will have total control of just 13 state legislatures.
In 24 of the 32 states with Republican-controlled legislatures, voters have also elected Republican governors. In contrast, Democrats have a “political trifecta” in just six states.
Since 2009, when President Obama took office, his party has lost a total of 919 seats in state legislatures nationwide, according to NCSL data.
In 2009, Democrats had total control of 27 state legislatures, and held a majority in at least one chamber in eight more states where power was divided. In contrast, Republicans controlled just 14 state legislatures.
During Obama’s first year in office, Democrats held 1,024 of the 1,971 total state Senate seats in the nation, compared to 889 in Republican hands. They also held 3,058 of the total 5,411 state House seats, compared to 2,334 for Republicans.
In addition, there were 28 Democratic governors, compared to 22 Republican governors.
However, near the end of Obama’s two terms in office, the partisan balance in the nation’s state legislatures has been completely reversed.
As of Nov. 7, 2016, there are just 823 Democratic state senators out of a total of 1,972 seats nationwide, according to NCSL data. Meanwile, Republicans have increased their ranks to 1,089.
Likewise, of the 5,411 state House seats, there are now 3,029 Republicans compared to 2,340 Democrats – a mirror image of both parties’ status in 2009.
The Democrats’ prior advantage in the nation’s governors’ mansions when Obama took office has also been lost. There are currently 31 Republican governors, 18 Democratic governors and one Independent (Gov. Bill Walker of Alaska).
“Republicans grabbed more of America’s statehouses and governors’ mansions during the Obama administration than at any time in the modern era,” the Washington Post’s Amber Phillips reported.
Last week’s historic flip of the Kentucky House – the last Democrat-controlled legislative chamber in the South – to Republican hands for the first time in nearly 100 years underscores the point.
In 2010, Democrats in the Kentucky House held a solid 65-35 majority. Six years later, the GOP now has a supermajority, and will control 62 of the chamber’s 100 seats.
“Democrats are now basically extinct in the South,” Phillips noted.