Aug 31, 2022 - Politics

Texas isn't as red as it feels

Data: NCSL; Note: As of June 1, there were 61 state Senate seats across all 50 states that were vacant or held by members who do not identify as Republican or Democrat; Nebraska has a unicameral state legislature and is not included in this map; Map: Nicki Camberg/Axios

On paper, the Texas state legislature isn't as skewed toward one party as the most partisan states, but the GOP is likely to remain firmly in control at the Capitol after November's midterms.

Why it matters: With Congress gridlocked, the policies that affect our day-to-day lives — on abortion access, gun control, voting, public health, school funding — are passed into law at the state level.

Between the lines: On hot-button issues, state policy doesn't actually reflect the will of the general public, per polls by the University of Texas' Texas Politics Project.

By the numbers: All 31 state Senate and 150 state House seats are up for election this November. So are the governor, lieutenant governor and state attorney general.

  • Republicans currently control five more seats than Democrats in the state Senate and 19 more in the state House.
Data: NCSL; Note: As of June 1, there were 78 state House seats across all 50 states that were vacant or held by members who do not identify as Republican or Democrat; Nebraska has a unicameral state legislature and is not included in this map; Map: Nicki Camberg/Axios

State of play: In the last legislative session, lawmakers effectively protected their own, redrawing maps to make it more likely incumbents win reelection.

  • Because few seats are true battlegrounds, wins and losses are notched in primaries, meaning the winning candidates tend to play to the base.
  • Plus: Arch-conservative Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick controls what potential legislation makes it to the Senate floor and Gov. Greg Abbott sets the policy agenda — and both Republicans are comfortably ahead in polls.

The big picture: Republicans have dominated Democrats at the state level for more than two decades, allowing conservatives to exercise outsized power across Texas.

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