Part of the reason why Republicans have been able to do lasting damage to the country over the last eight years has been their historic midterm wins in 2010 and 2014 that shifted blue and purple states into Republican hands, not just governor's mansions but entire state legislatures in states like Ohio, Florida, North Carolina, Wisconsin, Michigan, Nevada and Virginia.
But the ongoing disaster that is Trump is finally breaking the GOP stranglehold on America. Just six months ago, Republicans controlled 35 of 50 states. That's already started to change as the country shifts back in response to the GOP, and 2018 will go a long way in deciding how 2020 plays out.
Buoyed by November election results, a surge in fundraising and expectations of a massive liberal wave, Democrats are preparing for an assault on one of the GOP’s most heavily fortified positions: governor’s mansions.
It’s a far cry from last summer, when Democrats bottomed out at the state level. Back then, after West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice switched allegiance to the GOP, the number of governorships in Democratic Party hands fell to just 15, a historic low.
But the atmospheric conditions have changed since then. Republicans are hampered by an unpopular President Donald Trump. Suburban voters are threatening to desert the party en masse. And Democrats have seen a massive increase in their fundraising numbers after gubernatorial wins in Virginia and New Jersey in November.
The GOP is forced to defend 13 states that former President Barack Obama won — from Maine to New Mexico to Wisconsin — while Democrats are protecting just one — Pennsylvania — that fell to Trump.
Republicans now admit that a handful of once-competitive battlegrounds are nearly out of reach for them in 2018. Meanwhile, Democratic hopes are rising in a handful of conservative strongholds.
“I would describe our attitude as rational exuberance, and the reason I say ‘rational’ is it’s based on objective evidence that’s consistent in basically every election since the 'stable genius’ got to the White House,” said Washington Gov. Jay Inslee, chairman of the Democratic Governors Association, using Trump’s recent Twitter description of himself. “The map has expanded in the last several months, because these patterns exist even in red states."
Democratic confidence has been building since the party’s sweeping wins last fall. At the DGA’s meeting in New Orleans last month, political director Corey Platt gave governors a presentation indicating that the organization is now targeting 17 GOP-held seats for pickup in 2018, according to slides from the presentation obtained by POLITICO.
The growing optimism on the left is mirrored by a burgeoning Republican pessimism, according to a wide range of GOP operatives and lawmakers involved in this year’s races.
This is the kind of fighting I want to see. If the Dems cant take back even half of those 17 states, the country's politics shift dramatically.
I think it will be more. Dems taking back a majority of states will go a long way towards starting to repair the damage from Trump, and putting the pieces of this country back together.