While Republicans captured the White House by taking Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, and Michigan, thereby breaking the Blue Wall, they also romped down-ballot. The GOP kept its U.S. Senate and House majorities and picked up governors’ offices and even more state legislatures. For this, they owe a debt to President Barack Obama, during whose tenure Democrats have suffered dramatic losses down-ballot.
After Mr. Obama was elected in 2008, Democrats held 29 governorships, 57 Senate seats, 257 House seats, 4,086 state legislative seats, and control of 60 state legislative chambers. After 2016, Democrats have 16 governorships, 46 Senate seats, 194 House seats, 3,137 state legislative seats, and control of 31 state legislative chambers. That is a net loss of 13 governorships, 11 Senate seats, 63 House seats, 949 state legislative seats, and control of 29 state legislative chambers.
Out of modern day two-term presidents, only Eisenhower (-14), JFK/LBJ (-15), and Nixon/Ford (-19) lost more governors’ mansions, while Eisenhower (-12) was the only one to lose more Senate seats than Mr. Obama. No other two-term presidents lost as many state legislature seats or control of as many state legislative chambers as Mr. Obama, though Eisenhower came close, with a net loss of 843 seats and control of a net 21 chambers. These monumental down-ballot losses under Mr. Obama have dramatically diminished the Democrats’ farm team for years to come.