Legislatures: No Great Democratic Wave - Updated

Few legislative chambers changed hands Tuesday. Those that did reflected the increasingly regional nature of the major parties' strength. Democrats won the biggest prize of ...
by | November 4, 2008
 

Few legislative chambers changed hands Tuesday. Those that did reflected the increasingly regional nature of the major parties' strength.

Democrats won the biggest prize of the night, taking control of the New York Senate for the first time since 1966 -- and gaining control of the entire New York State government for the first time since the Depression. They now hold at least 32 seats in the 62-seat chamber. But that majority is tentative, at least for the moment -- four members are threatening to caucus with the Republicans.

Update: They also gained control of the Ohio House for the first time since 1994, gaining seven seats (they needed four to win). And they took the Wisconsin House, gaining overall control of state government for the first time in more than two decades.

In Nevada , Democrats gained a veto-proof majority in the Assembly and won the Senate for the first time since 1991.

Democrats now will control both legislative chambers in 27 states -- up from 23.

But Republicans pulled off the biggest surprise of the cycle, taking the Tennessee House for the first time since 1971. They also broke a tie in the Tennessee Senate, winning a solid majority that gives them total control of the legislature for the first time since Reconstruction.

Republicans also broke a tie in the Oklahoma Senate, taking control of that chamber for the first time ever.

They won control of the Montana Senate and are hopefully awaiting results in recounts in the Montana House as well.

Generally speaking, continuing GOP inroads in Southern legislatures were offset by growing Democratic strength in the Northeast. Democrats added to their majority in the Delaware Senate, while taking control of the state House. Six incumbent House Republicans went down to defeat, including Terry Spence, the longest-serving House Speaker in the nation.

The Pennsylvania Senate is now the only Republican-controlled chamber north of Virginia.

Democrats appear to have held onto the Pennsylvania House, which they had held by a one-vote majority. They also preserved narrow control of the Maine Senate and the Indiana House.

They fell short in their hopes of capturing other chambers, including the Texas House, the Arizona House and the North Dakota Senate. It also did not look like Democrats were going to make much of a net gain in overall legislative seats nationwide. Nationwide, Democrats look to have gained about 100 seats about of the 5500 or so that were in play.

"This wasn't a big, overwhelming night for Democrats," says Tim Storey, of the National Conference of State Legislatures. "They definitely got their wins, but they didn't command legislative elections like they did two years ago."

Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. You can enter an anonymous Display Name or connect to a social profile.

More from Politics