Stephen L. Carter ― Democrats Can Take a Hint From GOP's Winning Ways
Stephen L. Carter, a Bloomberg View columnist, is a professor of law at Yale University. He is the author of 12 books, including "The Emperor of Ocean Park" and "Back Channel."
Let's suppose the polls are right: Running against Donald Trump, the Democrats win the White House in a walk, perhaps retake the Senate, and maybe even come within a hair's breadth of picking up a majority in the House. Will the 2016 elections thus usher in a sea change in the nation’s politics?
Probably not. The Democrats might wind up in charge of Washington, but the Republican Party will likely continue its stranglehold on local politics. Currently, 31 states have GOP governors. There are 18 Democratic governors and one independent; in November, Republicans stand a fair chance of flipping Missouri and West Virginia. Meanwhile, the GOP overwhelmingly controls state legislatures. One election, or even a series of elections, isn’t likely to wash all of that away.
Why do Democrats fare so well on the national stage and so poorly in local politics? In a recent essay in the journal Democracy, Alexander Hertel-Fernandez and Theda Skocpol of Harvard University suggest a few reasons for the Republican Party's dominance at the state level. They tell us a story that many will find familiar, but they add an interesting twist.