Louisiana and Mississppi. This leaves the Democrats in control of only five of 28 Southern and Border State legislative chambers: both Houses in Arkansas, the Houses in Kentucky and Mississippi and the Virginia Senate.
Louisiana Attorney General Buddy Caldwell also joined the GOP earlier this month, giving the GOP complete control of the statewide offices in yet another Southern state. This is on the heels of last year's elections, where the GOP won all but one contested statewide race in the South.
- AK Senate 20D/15R - 3 seat Dem majority with a 7 seat GOP gain in '10
- AK House 56D/44R - 7 seat Dem majority with a 16 seat GOP gain in '10
- KY House 58D/42R - 9 seat Dem majority with a 7 seat GOP gain in '10
- MS House 69D/53R - 9 seat majority
- VA Senate 22D/18R - 3 seat majority
It's hard to see how the Democrats, whose total legislative majority of thirty-five seats is far less than the number of southern legislative seats gained by the GOP in 2010, can be optimistic about avoiding future losses, much less reversing these trends. Their first chance to stop the bleeding will come this fall, as control of two of these chambers will be up for grabs:
- In Virginia, where the GOP swept the statewide races in 2009 and boosted it's House majority, as well as gained three U.S. House seats last year, the Dems will be fighting a strong GOP tide to keep control of that state's Senate.
- In Mississippi, the numbers suggest it can hold onto the House, but the GOP just took the Senate after seizing two U.S. House seats last year. Talk of a major split in House Democratic ranks also suggests that the GOP could significantly slash the Democratic majority, but a thirteen seat gain is a pretty tall order.
Next year, the GOP will likely aim hard at taking control of the Arkansas legislature. If the GOP gains half the number of seats it won in 2010, they can seize both chambers. Considering it won every contested statewide race and gained U.S. House and Senate seats last year, the momentum is going their way - at least for now.
Barring any major political reversals, the GOP souther legislative chamber sweep is a serious possibility in the near future. This would represent profound - and ironic - shift in a region where the Democrats controlled every legislative chamber prior to the 1994 elections.