It is hard not to underscore the scope of Democratic losses under Obama. These losses have not just occurred in Congress but at the state level. Consider that in 2009 when Democrats were in their zenith they held 60 Senate seats and 258 House seats. At the state level the party controlled 28 Governorships and further had complete control of state government in 17 states (Governor and both legislative chambers). Republicans held a mere 22 Governorships and only had state control in nine states. Democrats have only gone downhill since.
Less than a year after Obama took office the GOP took control of the Governorships in blue New Jersey (Chris Christie) and Virginia (Bob McDonnell). Merely two months later Democrats lost a Senate seat in deep blue Massachusetts and with it their 60 seat filibuster-proof majority.
In the midterms of 2010 the GOP racked up six Senate seats and 63 new House seats. Not only were Democrats devastated federally but once the dust had settled they controlled a mere 20 Governorships. They only had complete control in 11 states compared to the GOP’s 18 and the number of legislative chambers they controlled shrunk to 38 (including ties) while the GOP controlled 60 (including ties).
Democrats did gain 8 House seats back in 2012 and picked up two Senate seats but the results of the 2014 elections show just how hard Democrats were hammered. As of today the GOP gained 12 new House seats and at least 7 Senate seats (with the likelihood to gain more). To put it bluntly, when Obama entered office the party controlled 60 Senate seats and 258 House seats. When he leaves office the party will likely hold less than 185 House seats and a mere 46 Senate seats.
The devastated Democratic landscape looks even bleaker at the state level. The party will hold a mere 18 Governorships while the GOP holds 31 (or 32 depending on Alaska) The GOP will control 68-69 legislatures (out of 98) and have complete control in 23 states. Democrats will have complete control in a mere 7 states (NE and Pacific Coast).
But these numbers cannot do justice to just how bad these losses have been. The entire South has basically turned GOP. Consider some swing state delegations. Republicans now control 5 of the 6 members of Iowa’s Congressional delegation compared to two of seven in 2009 (lost a seat in reapportionment). In Ohio the party represents 13 of the state’s 18 member delegation compared to 8-18 in 09 (lost two seats in census). In Pennsylvania, the GOP represents 13 of the state’s 21 member delegation. This contrasts with a mere 8 out of 21 in the 2009 delegation.
The reasons for Democrats losses under Obama are myriad. Pursual of unpopular policies, ignoring a bad economy, etc. But it also represents the modern shift Democrats have made from courting conservative whites to focusing on establishing a majority-minority coalition. This is why so many states dominated by blue-collar whites in the Midwest (Ohio, Pennsylvania, Iowa, Michigan) and South have turned away from the party and why white men went 64%-33% for the GOP.
I’ll leave you with some final numbers below comparing and contrasting 2009 totals to likely post 2014 numbers. These numbers are inexact with the Alaska and Louisiana Senate races yet to be called, multiple Congressional races remaining in the balance and some legislative house races in CO remaining in doubt but you get the picture.
Democrat pre Nov. 2009:
States legislatures: 60
State Control: 17
House Members: 258
US Senators: 60
GOP pre Nov. 2009:
State legislatures: 38
House Members: 177
US Senators: 40
Democrats post Nov. 2014:
State legislatures: 29 (1 tied).
House members: 179
State Control 17
US Senators: 45
GOP post Nov. 2014:
Control 67 state legislatures (1 tied).
State Control 23
House members 243:
US Senators: 52
For further fun I include the list of legislative chambers that swung Republican this cycle and the total partisan number of legislators by affiliation in each chamber. Democrats did not swing a single chamber though they held the Iowa Senate and Kentucky House (only Southern chamber now controlled by Democrats).
Swing D-R: 10
West Virginia House
West Virginia Senate
New Mexico House
New Hampshire House
Democratic Lower chamber legislators: 2,339 (43.58%)
Democratic Upper chamber legislators: 824 (43.2%)
Total Legislators: 3,163 (43.47%)
Republican lower chamber legislators: 3,028 (56.42%)
Republican upper chamber legislators: 1,085 (56.8%)
Total legislators: 4, 113 (56.53%)