Most Americans Live in States Partly or Completely Under Republican Control


20 December, 2016

The Republican Party now holds more power in the United States than at any time since the 1920s.

Since 2000, the Republicans have sharply increased the number of legislatures and governorships they control. That is part of a movement that began in 1938.

Since then, the number of Republican state lawmakers has increased more than 64 percent. The party's influence at the state and national level has continued to rise since President Barack Obama took office in 2009.

Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Prebus speaks at the committee's Spring meeting, in Hollywood, Florida, April 21, 2016.
Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Prebus speaks at the committee's Spring meeting, in Hollywood, Florida, April 21, 2016.

Because of the 2016 elections, Republicans will control Kentucky's House of Representatives, and the Iowa and Minnesota Senates beginning in January. In addition, the top Democrat in the Kentucky House, Greg Stumbo, and the top Democrat in the Iowa Senate, Mike Gronstal, were both defeated for reelection. Gronstal is also the president of the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL).

The Democratic Party had controlled Kentucky's House for 94 years. It was the last legislative chamber under the Democrats' control in the South. In January, there will be 64 Republicans in the 100-seat Kentucky House.

The NCSL reports that Republicans will soon control both chambers of the legislature in 32 states -- the most in the party's history. Democrats will control both chambers in 15 states. Control will be split in three states.

Before the election, Republicans controlled both parts of the legislature in 30 states. Democrats controlled both in 12 states, while control was split in seven states.

One state, Nebraska, has a unicameral legislature -- in other words it has just one chamber, not a house and senate.

NCSL researcher Tim Storey told dailysignal.com that "Republicans have taken full advantage of their (power) in the states -- including implementing tax cuts in a number of places, imposing stricter limits on abortion and voting rights, and combating controversial issues like gun control."

While Democrats attempted to keep control of the presidency, Republicans worked at the state and local levels. That work has helped the party take control of a large majority of state offices.

The Washington Post newspaper said that "with this election, (Republicans) cemented their dominance." The paper added that about 80 percent of Americans now live "in a state either totally or partially controlled by Republicans."

Amy Walter is the national editor of the Cook Political Report. She said that because of the recent elections, Democrats "are going to be hurting for a long time."

This month, Democrats got even more bad news. In the state of Louisiana, the Republican state treasurer, John Kennedy, won election to the U.S. Senate. President-elect Donald Trump campaigned for Kennedy. A large majority of voters in Louisiana supported Trump in the November election.

Kennedy strongly opposes the health care program known as Obamacare. He supports the Second Amendment to the Constitution, which gives Americans the right to own guns. And he opposes abortion, the medical operation in which a woman's pregnancy is ended.

In January, Republicans will hold 52 seats in the U.S. Senate. Democrats will control 46. There are two independent senators. They usually vote with the Democrats.

I'm Christopher Jones-Cruise.

VOA's Christopher Jones-Cruise reported this story and wrote it in VOA Learning English. George Grow was the editor.

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Words in This Story

chamber – n. a usually large room where members of a government group (such as a legislature) have meetings

implement – v. to begin to do or use (something, such as a plan); to make (something) active or effective

impose – v. to cause (something, such as a tax, fine, rule or punishment) to affect someone or something by using your authority

controversial – adj. relating to or causing much discussion, disagreement or argument

cement – v. to make (something) stronger