Republican rout at state level reflects backlash against federal control

November 10, 2014

In 1932, Justice Louis Brandeis referred to the 50 states as “laboratories of democracy” — 50 separate compartments in which legal innovations can be tested without risk to the others.

This was back in a day when the federal government was less involved in citizens’ lives, and Brandeis said it because he envisioned the most liberal states dabbling in more left-wing policies.

But as the federal government has grown larger and more intrusive in the Obama era, the opposite has occurred. Americans have reacted to President Obama by choosing more conservative rule at the local level.

In last Tuesday’s elections, Republicans gained a net 10 of America’s 99 state legislative chambers. Republicans won control of state Houses in Minnesota, Maine and New Mexico, and of state Senates in Colorado, New York and Washington state. Democrats suffered complete and unexpected collapses in both Nevada and West Virginia, losing both houses at once — in the latter case, losing an 80-year majority.

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