The Republican Party is having a bad election year so far. Donald Trump's presence at the top of the ticket seems likely to lead to a third-straight Democratic term in the White House, and now GOP House and Senate candidates are dealing with the reality that Trump could bring them down, too — and potentially cost their party the Senate or (if it's really bad) the House.
What can be easy to forget, though, is that the GOP starts 2016 in a very good spot outside the confines of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. That's because they are in the best shape in Congress and at the state level that they've been in since the Great Depression. They have some of the strongest majorities of senators, representatives and governors that they've ever had, and their power at the state legislative level is largely unprecedented.
How big is the GOP advantage in state legislatures? Well, they control about 7 out of every 10 chambers, and when you combine that dominance with their 31 governors, they have full control of 21 out of 50 state governments — compared with just seven for Democrats.
The GOP dominance of state legislatures is even more apparent when you look at the maps below, from Quorum, which show partisan control of each state legislative district nationwide.
First, the upper chambers — i.e. state Senates:
And, next, the lower chambers — i.e., state Houses and general assemblies. (Nebraska is blank here since it only has one chamber.):
Now, these images can be somewhat misleading, since Democrats tend to hold more urban districts that are smaller on a map, while the GOP holds the vast majority of massive rural districts. But the GOP clearly dominates much of the country, with Democrats not able to win rural districts outside states like Minnesota, New Mexico and Texas. And remember that a majority of red districts in any given state means the GOP is in control.
Trump and Republicans could indeed get drubbed in the 2016 election — both at the White House level and beneath. Thanks to big gains in recent years, though, they've built up some cushions that can help them sustain losses and still maintain power across the country.