Republicans enjoy largest legislative seat gains in Midwest in at least two decades

The November 2010 elections resulted in a net seat gain of more than 25 percent for Republicans in the region's 20 partisan legislative chambers.

Stateline Midwest, Volume 19, No. 10 - November 2010

When legislative sessions begin in early 2011, there will be more Republicans serving in the 11-state Midwest’s 20 partisan chambers than there have been in at least two decades, thanks to this November’s elections that resulted in a net GOP seat gain of more than 25 percent.

This year’s seat gains for the party are greater than they were in 1994 — the year of the so-called “Republican Revolution.” In the two election cycles prior to 2010, Democrats experienced a net seat gain of 21 percent.

The 2010 results will result in a significant shift in control of state legislatures and state government.

The party in power flipped in at least eight legislative chambers: The Indiana House, Iowa House, Michigan House, Minnesota House and Senate, Ohio House, and Wisconsin Assembly and Senate all now have Republican majorities. (In Iowa, as of early November, partisan control of the state Senate had not yet been decided due to the closeness of two races.)

In addition, at least nine of the region’s governors will be Republican, the highest number since 1996, and the GOP will enjoy full partisan control of government in at least seven states. (The race for governor in Minnesota was still undecided in the days following the election.)

Reapportionment and redistricting

The November results will not only impact the direction of state policy over the next few years, but U.S. politics and policy for the next decade.

The newly elected legislators and governors will soon be redrawing state legislative and U.S. congressional districts. (Results of the U.S. Census 2010 population counts will be announced by the end of the year.)

This region is expected to lose four seats in Congress (and in the Electoral College) as a result of reapportionment: two seats in Ohio and one seat each in Illinois and Michigan.

“Since the 17th Amendment severed the direct relationship between state legislatures and the U.S. Senate nearly 100 years ago, the redistricting process has become the single most important lever for states to influence the composition of Congress,” Chris Whatley, director of the CSG Washington, D.C., office wrote in a post-election analysis.

At least in the Midwest, Republicans will largely be wielding this influence.