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Updated 11/4/2010 1:03 AM ET
In state capitols, GOP engineers historic shift
Republicans scored huge and historic successes in state legislative elections Tuesday, exceeding even the great performance the party had in congressional races.

GOP candidates picked up about 650 Democratic-held seats, the most in nearly half a century. Republicans now control more legislative seats than at any time since 1928.

"To describe this as a Republican wave would be a vast understatement," says elections expert Tim Storey of the National Conference of State Legislatures. "They won in places where we didn't see it coming, and they won in places where we did see it coming," he says.

The shift will have a big effect on spending, taxes, public education and how political districts are drawn.

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Republicans will have unchallenged control of the design of about 170 congressional districts next year after the Census releases 2010 population data, Storey says. Democrats will get to draw about 70 districts.

About 200 more districts will be created through participation by both parties or by non-partisan panels. California voters approved a ballot measure Tuesday that transferred the design of districts from the Democratic-controlled Legislature to a non-partisan commission.

"The ability to reshape political boundaries gives this election a lasting impact that extends far beyond last night and today," says Tom Fetzer, North Carolina's Republican Party chairman. His party took control of both legislative chambers for the first time since 1898. Under state law, the governor — a Democrat — plays no role in redistricting.

Republicans won control of 19 legislative chambers across the USA. Democrats won zero. Republicans flipped both legislative chambers in Alabama, Maine, Minnesota, New Hampshire, North Carolina and Wisconsin.

The party won control of houses of representatives in Colorado, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Montana, Ohio and Pennsylvania.

Results are still incomplete in the New York Senate, the Oregon House and Senate and the Washington Senate. All are now controlled by Democrats.

Democrats picked up one seat in Delaware, the party's only gain in the 50 states.

By contrast, Republicans won:

•The North Carolina General Assembly for the first time since the 1870s.

• Both Alabama chambers for the first time since Reconstruction.

•The Minnesota Senate for the first time since it recognized political parties in 1974.

Ohio state Rep. Dan Dodd, a Democrat who opposes abortion and favors gun rights, was a typical victim of the Republican tsunami. He faced the same Republican opponent he had defeated in 2006 and 2008. Despite campaigning harder than ever, Dodd saw his support tumble from 58% in 2008 to 43%.

"What was different this year was the anti-Democratic, anti-incumbent sentiment," Dodd says. "I don't think anything I could have done would have changed the outcome."

Local politics was not local this year, says Minnesota Republican Party Chairman Tony Sutton. "These races got nationalized," he says. "It was a referendum on the policies of Obama and all Democrats," Sutton says.

Posted 11/3/2010 10:04 PM ET
Updated 11/4/2010 1:03 AM ET
State legislatures

Republicans took control from Democrats in 19 chambers of state legislatures. Democrats took control of none. Who controls the legislatures:

Red= Republicans
Blue= Democrats
Purple= Divided
Gray= Undecided
*Nebraska= Non-partisan

Source: National Conference of State Legislatures
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