The state of state legislatures — in 1 map

August 17, 2012

Even the most devoted of political junkies tend to draw a line in the sand when it comes to keeping a close eye on the battle for control in the 50 state legislatures.

The reason is simple: there are just too many people and races to wrap your arms -- or brain -- around. It's just like people who are huge baseball fans but don't track every movement of every minor league team in the country. (Guilty as charged!)

But, like the minor leagues -- where potential stars hone their craft -- the state legislatures matter more than most people realize. Not only are they an incubator for young political talent but they also produce tons of legislation that draws national attention.

A few examples:

* The Arizona legislature's controversial immigration bill, the most stringent in the country.

* The Virginia legislature's bill regarding mandatory ultrasounds -- transvaginal and otherwise.

* The photo identification law in Pennsylvania that has become a touchpoint in the broader voter ID fight nationally.

* The North Carolina House and Senate agreed to put Amendment One, affirming that marriage is between a man and a woman, on the ballot earlier this year.

There are lots (and lots) of other. But they all point to the same thing: State legislatures matter -- big time.

So with 80 percent -- 6,004 seats to be exact -- of all state legislative seats up for a vote this fall, we should be paying closer attention. And, that's where the map below -- from the good people at the National Conference of State Legislatures -- comes in.  It details which party controls each state legislature and those that carry split control.

Save this map. State legislative races aren't as sexy as the presidential contest -- or even Senate and House races -- but who controls the chambers has some serious real world impact.


Chris Cillizza writes “The Fix,” a politics blog for the Washington Post. He also covers the White House.
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Sean Sullivan | August 17, 2012