by Nick Hollingsworth
July 14, 2017
In 2008, Barack Obama won the presidency in blowout fashion over Republican candidate John McCain. President Obama won the election by roughly 9.5 million votes, and won the electoral college by 192 votes. In addition to controlling the White House, the Democratic Party held 859 more state legislative seats than Republicans and had overwhelming majorities in both the Senate and House of Representatives. Things could not have been going better for the Democrats.
In the first two years of Barack Obama’s presidency, there were a lot of controversial legislation and actions taken by the Obama administration, but by far the most controversial legislation passed was the Affordable Care Act, otherwise known as “Obamacare.” Polling showed that this was very unpopular among American voters. Their frustration came to fruition over the next election cycle. By the end of the 2010 mid-term elections, Democrats had lost 726 state legislative seats, six governorships, 63 seats in the House of Representatives, and six Senate seats.
The downward trend for the Democrats was put on hold for the time being in the 2012 election. Barack Obama won the presidency by 5 million votes and by 126 in the electoral college. While the Democrats gained back seats in both the Senate and the House, they did not regain their majority in the House. The Democrats also gained a few state legislative seats. So while Democrats had gains, the GOP still had the majority of state legislatures, governorships, and had a majority in the House.
This is where the argument is made that the people of America, while voting for Obama the man, still collectively rejected his policies. There were six states that Obama won that had a Republican controlled state senate, with another having a split senate. In addition, there were seven states that went for Obama but had a Republican controlled state house. Altogether, there were five states that went for Obama that still had both a state legislature controlled by Republicans and had a Republican governor. There were an additional three states that had a split legislature, two with a Republican governor, that went for Obama. Of those eight states, six (Florida, Iowa, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin) would later go for Trump in the 2016 election.
Where the wheels really came off for the Democratic Party is in the 2014 mid-term elections. After that set of elections, Republicans controlled 33 of 49 state houses and 35 of 49 state senates. Nebraska is not included in those numbers due to having a unicameral state government, which is nonpartisan. Republicans had a total advantage in state legislatures of 956 seats, 31 of 50 governorships, a 59-seat advantage in the U.S. House, and a ten-seat advantage over Democrats in the Senate.
From when Barack Obama was elected in 2008, to when Donald Trump was elected in 2016, the Democratic Party lost a total of 15 state houses chambers, 14 state senate chambers, 960 state legislative seats, 10 governorships, 62 seats in Congress, and 11 seats in the Senate. With these numbers, plus the election of Donald Trump as president, it can only be concluded that while Obama the man was well liked, the policies of Obama were not.