Democrats Win Total Control of 6 More States. What Will They Do With It?

The party now has 14 "trifectas," compared to the Republicans' 22.
by | November 7, 2018
Maine gubernatorial candidate Democrat Janet Mills celebrating her victory on Tuesday night. (AP/Elise Amendola)

Democrats claimed six new “trifectas” in Tuesday’s elections, winning the governorship and both chambers of the state legislature in Colorado, Illinois, Maine, Nevada, New Mexico and New York.

This brings the total number of Democratic trifectas to 14, the others being California, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, New Jersey, Rhode Island, Oregon and Washington state.

Democrats also ended Republican trifectas in Kansas, Michigan, New Hampshire and Wisconsin.

“Few ever pay attention to these races,” tweeted NBC News political reporter Alex Seitz-Wald, “but they’re important for [redistricting] and waves can be leveraged for major gains.”

Republicans captured unified control of state government in Alaska, bringing their total number of trifectas to 22. Furthermore, the GOP largely retained its dominance in the states, with divided government remaining in 13. (The Georgia governor's race still too close to call. If GOP candidate Brian Kemp wins, it would bring the number of Republican trifecta states to 23.)

In the states where Democrats won trifectas, new policy victories for the party could be on the horizon.

Jacob Neiheisel, an associate professor of political science at the State University of New York at Buffalo, believes the Empire State is now likely to codify Roe v. Wade and abortion rights into state law.

“That seems to be something Republicans in the Senate would have likely stopped,” Neiheisel says, but notes that the legislature will now be “a good bit more liberal” in Albany.

New York Democrats are also likely to push cash bail reform and automatic voter registration, predicted political scientist Daniel Nichanian, a fellow at the Justice Collaborative/Fair Punishment Project and a writer at The Appeal.

Maine, says Nichanian, “will finally move forward on the Medicaid expansion that voters approved in 2017,” which has been blocked by Republican Gov. Paul LePage ever since.

"This new Democratic majority will be able to implement Medicaid expansion," Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee Executive Director Jessica Post said in a statement, "reduce the burden of property taxes, and bring new educational and career opportunities to all Mainers."

Elsewhere in the country, new Democratic trifectas will likely mean policy change on other key issues, including education.
 
Colorado Gov.-elect Jared Polis ran on funding all-day kindergarten and enacting universal preschool for four-year-olds. Illinois Gov.-elect J.B. Pritzker is similarly a nationally recognized advocate of early childhood education.
Graham Vyse | Staff Writer