It's easy to look at presidential front-runner Donald Trump or the mess that is the race to be the next Republican speaker of the House and conclude that the GOP is in total disarray. Which, at the national level, they are.

But, as Matt Yglesias points out over at Vox, Republicans aren't in nearly as a bad a place as you might think. He cites lots of reasons, but the one that I think is most critical -- and the most overlooked when discussing the relative strengths of the two parties both in 2016 and beyond -- is the dominance Republicans currently enjoy at the state level. As Yglesias writes:

The presidency is extremely important, of course. But there are also thousands of critically important offices all the way down the ballot. And the vast majority — 70 percent of state legislatures, more than 60 percent of governors, 55 percent of attorneys general and secretaries of state — are in Republicans hands.

This chart, built by my friend and Republican lobbyist Bruce Mehlman, makes that point in absolutely striking fashion.


The key number -- at least to me -- is that Republicans have gained more than 900 (!) state legislative seats since Barack Obama was elected president, gains that produced -- among other things -- the congressional map that ensures Republicans will hold the House through at least 2020. Those huge GOP gains also have created a policy incubator, often for decidedly conservative policies at the state level that can and do trickle up to the national level.

It's uniquely possible that Democrats will win the White House for a third straight time next November. (I would say that Hillary Rodham Clinton, assuming she is the nominee, starts with a slight edge over the Republican nominee due, largely, to demographic shifts in the country and the Electoral College.) But writing the story of the death of the Republican Party deeply misunderstands the state of the two parties at every level below the presidential one.

No matter what happens with the White House in 2016, Republicans remain a vibrant -- and growing -- party in the political trenches, where the leaders of 2020 and beyond are being groomed. Remember that when you read the next "THE GOP IS DOOMED" piece.