The party that doesn’t control the White House usually makes gains during a president’s tenure. Control of congress usually flips after the first midterm elections (the biggest example to the contrary being the midterm elections following 9/11, when Republicans picked up more seats).
The media, naturally, has been trying to insist that the damage done to Republicans in state legislatures under President Donald Trump is historic or somehow worse than what happened under President Barack Obama.
It is not.
On Thursday, former Bush White House Press Secretary Ari Fleischer tweeted that, at the same point in his presidency, Obama had lost more than twice as many seats in state legislatures than Trump has.
“To put the political consequences of the Trump presidency into perspective, since Trump was elected, Rs have lost 329 seats in state legislatures. At the same point in the Obama presidency, Ds lost 768 seats. MSM is exaggerating election 2019,” Fleischer tweeted. “A little perspective is needed.”
To put the political consequences of the Trump presidency into perspective, since Trump was elected, Rs have lost 329 seats in state legislatures. At the same point in the Obama presidency, Ds lost 768 seats. MSM is exaggerating election 2019. A little perspective is needed.
— Ari Fleischer (@AriFleischer) November 7, 2019
Fleischer told The Daily Wire that the statistics came from Republican State Leadership Committee Communications Director David Abrams, who did not return a request for more information.
As I previously reported at The New York Observer, some of the Republicans’ election losses are not due to anti-Trump sentiment, but issues within the states. The 2017 New Jersey and Virginia gubernatorial elections, for example, had little to do with Trump. Virginia elected another Democrat, as has become the trend in the state after the last Republican governor raised taxes and was sent to prison. In New Jersey, Republican Gov. Chris Christie was deeply unpopular following his failed presidential bid and the scandal involving a closed bridge. New Jersey is also a reliably Blue state.
The 2018 midterms did return control of the U.S. House of Representatives to Democrats, but Republican gained seats in the Senate.
In 2019, Republicans lost control of the Virginia legislature and the Kentucky governorship, though they swept other statewide elections in the Bluegrass State.
Of course, there are some state-related issues that resulted in Democrat election losses under Obama, but it is difficult to claim that he had nothing to do with the losses when they so outnumbered those of other presidencies.
By the end of his term (meaning after the 2015 elections as those were the last elections where Obama could or would remain president), Obama’s party lost 913 state legislature seats, 11 governorships, 69 House seats, and 13 net Senate seats.
This was far more than what was lost under President George W. Bush, who faced severe backlash for the Iraq war. At the end of Bush’s presidency, Republicans had lost 324 state legislature seats – including control of 13 state legislature chambers – 7 governorships, 42 House seats, and 9 net Senate seats.