Democrats failed to take control of the Texas House from Republicans, a prize that had seemed within reach. They also lost the battle for North Carolina’s House and Senate, chambers they had set their sights on after years of Republican control. And they failed to flip the Iowa House, according to the N.C.S.L. Results for the Pennsylvania and Michigan Houses were still pending.
Statehouses are important because they are the places where issues like abortion, guns and police reform get decided. They are particularly critical this year because of a process known as redistricting: the redrawing of state and national electoral maps after the decennial census. While some states use nonpartisan or bipartisan commissions to draw these maps, the process in most states is controlled by the majority party in the state legislature. The most recent census is being finalized, and data will be sent to the states for redistricting beginning next year.
Republicans still have a distinct advantage since winning two dozen chambers in the 2010 election cycle, double the average number of chambers that flip every two years, according to Mr. Storey. Before Tuesday’s election, Republicans controlled about three-fifths of all 98 partisan legislative chambers. If no other chambers flip as new results come in, that Republican dominance will not change.
“It was a huge night for state Republicans,” said David Abrams, deputy executive director of the Republican State Leadership Committee, which focuses on electing Republicans to state offices. “Democrats spent hundreds of millions of dollars to flip state chambers. So far, they don’t have a damn thing to show for it.”
In all, about 80 percent of the nation’s 7,383 state legislative seats were up for grabs.
The Democrats did not make much progress in the handful of governor’s races either. In Montana, the Republican, Greg Gianforte won against Mike Cooney, a Democrat, who was the lieutenant governor of the state. The state’s governor, Steve Bullock, a Democrat, ran for U.S. Senate and lost to the Republican incumbent, Steve Daines. The outcome in Montana ends more than 16 years of Democratic leadership in a state that usually votes for Republicans for president.