Republicans on track for gains in state legislatures in 2022 midterms

The Democratic Party is on the right track to have the 2022 they were dreading; Joe Biden won the presidency and Republicans are favored to make gains in the grand electoral tradition known as the midterm curse. With most states having already completed the redistricting process for their 2022 state legislative elections, Republicans are forecasted to have a triple-digit net gain in next year’s state legislative elections, with a 144-seat net gain between both lower and upper chambers with single-member districts. As we’ve said before, we do not forecast multi-member districts given the difficulty of developing a methodology to cast a sound prediction for each individual district’s outcomes, so the projected total net gain is likely to be higher than what our homepage counter has.

Republicans are slight favorites to flip two chambers thus far: the Alaska House and the Minnesota House. The Alaska House has a proper forecast while we are still waiting on redistricting to finish in Minnesota, though the maps will still likely result in our official forecast launch showing Republicans favored to flip the chamber given Democrats’ thin majority and large stretch of territory they have to defend in Northern Minnesota (which is trending against them) as well as the Minneapolis suburbs, which will likely have a temporary reversion to the Republicans as the Virginia suburbs did in 2021.

Republicans have many more opportunities to flip state legislative chambers as well: Oregon, Maine, Connecticut, Colorado, New Mexico, Nevada, Washington, and Illinois have at least one chamber that is competitive, some more than others. Republicans still face uphill climbs in all but one of these states: Maine, where the State House is rated as a Toss-Up in our forecast.

The expected “suburban reversion” this November across the country is not going to undo the gains that Democrats made during the Trump presidency, all one has to do to have confirmation of that is look at Virginia in 2021, where Democrats held 16 of the 21 seats they flipped during the Trump presidency. So you can expect Democrats to hold most of the aforementioned chambers unless things take a turn for the worse for them before the election.

There are three factors that are going to drive the net gain Republicans are likely going to have this November in state legislative elections, the first being the temporary suburban reversion we’ve discussed. The second is redistricting, where Republicans have given themselves with the power of the pen, carefully cutting out opportunities for Democrats to win to strengthen their existing majorities and supermajorities. The third is districts trending away from Democrats in rural territory, most of them with white-working class voters without a college degree as the majority of the district electorate. Some of these districts have been left uncontested by Republicans in 2020 and/or 2018.

We’re still quite a ways away from November, and a few months away from the remaining states to complete its redistricting processes. There’s time for things to turn around for Democrats, but history shows us that is not likely going to be the case.