Whether you call it a hurricane, a tsunami or a seismic shift, it was an historic election at the state level for the GOP. By adding over 720 legislative seats to their column in the past two years, Republicans easily cleared the 1994 expectations bar. In 1994, the last big wave election, they netted over 500 seats and the majority in 20 legislative bodies. There are now more Republican state legislators (3,941) than at any point since they held 4,001 seats after the 1928 election.
With bulked up numbers at the state level, Republicans are now in their best position for the looming redistricting process since the modern era of redistricting began following the U.S. Supreme Court’s landmark ruling in Baker v. Carr in 1962.
Republicans gained legislative seats in every region of the country in 2010, led by the Northeast where they picked-up 229 seats. The numbers in the East are somewhat skewed by the New Hampshire House which has 400 members, allowing Republicans to gain 132 seats in the Granite State alone. What was probably most striking at the regional level was the symbolic tipping point that Republicans achieved in the South. For the first time since 1870, there are now more GOP legislators in the South than Democrats, punctuating a decline of Democrats in the region that has been steadily taking place since the late 1950s. Prior to 1994, only 16 years ago, there was not a single legislative chamber in the South with a majority of Republican members. Now, 19 chambers in the South belong to the GOP, including five which switched this year: the House and Senate in Alabama, the Louisiana House, and the House and Senate in North Carolina.