Democrats have paid an unprecedented price under eight years of President Barack Obama.
When Obama took office in 2009, Democrats controlled the House and the Senate by substantial majorities. Democrats sat in 28 governor’s mansions and controlled nearly as many state houses. And in 17 states, Democrats controlled all three.
“What a difference an election makes,” then Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said in his opening speech that year. “Since 2006, Democrats have achieved a net gain of 14 of 14 Senate seats. We return to work for the 11th Congress with a strong majority that will soon reach 59 seats. And just two weeks from today, Barack Obama will become the 44th President of the United States.”
Now, as Obama prepares to leave the White House, the Democratic party’s grip on power is in ruins.
The party has 11 fewer Senate seats, 63 fewer House seats, and more than a dozen fewer governorships, than when Obama took office. Democrats lost more than 800 seats in state legislatures, and control both the governor’s mansion and the legislature in just six states. The Republican party, on the other hand, is the most dominant it’s been since the 1920’s.
Republicans control the White House, the Congress, and the balance of power in the Supreme Court, as well as both the legislature and the governorship of 24 states. The party now controls “almost everything in American governance,” as The New York Times puts it.
Democrats slimmed down the party’s control of the Senate by picking up a few seats, but failed to win back the majority. Republicans have 51 seats to their 48, pending the results of the Louisiana runoff election. In the House Republicans have 238 seats to their 193, again a slimmer but persistent majority that looked as if it might give at some points ahead of the election.
At the state level, a Republican sits in two-thirds of the governor’s mansions, and the party controls more than 30 state legislatures. Three states voted to replace a Democrat governor with a Republican, and the party picked up control of the legislature and governor’s mansion in Iowa, Missouri, Kentucky and New Hampshire.
Republicans now control all 30 legislative chambers in the South for the first time in history, reports Reuters. Their dominance of the governorships is the greatest since the 1920’s, and their control of the legislatures overall is the greatest in history.
“That’s just the way it broke,” elections expert Tim Storey told The New York Times. “Republicans thought they were playing defense, and Democrats thought that it was going to be a good year for them, but Republicans outpaced them and came out as strong as they went in, all across the board.”