With the Supreme Court on the precipice of overturning Roe v. Wade, many have rightly noted that state legislatures will now become the main battleground for protecting abortion rights in America. Record donations in the 48 hours following the leak of SCOTUS’ draft opinion show that Democrats may finally be taking state legislative races seriously.
Since Forward Majority’s inception, we’ve been raising the alarm on the critical importance of state legislative power — and the anemic fundraising in key races. This remains true, and good candidates with well-funded campaigns are an essential baseline to win the most valuable seats that lie in the path to flipping state legislative chambers.
However, recent experience makes clear that money, even in unprecedented sums, is not sufficient in winning the most important, tipping point statehouse races. Democrats recruit great candidates and win the money game — yet are unable to flip key seats that lie in the path to Democratic majorities in battleground states.
Two statehouse races in Texas and Arizona taught us this lesson back in 2020. Although Akilah Bacy spent twice as much as her opponent in the race for a Texas House district in the Houston area, which was carried by Joe Biden at the top of the ticket, she lost by 2 points. AJ Kurdoglu faced a similar fate in Maricopa County, Ariz., losing by 2 points in a race for the Arizona Senate, even though he also outspent his opponent by 2:1 in a Biden-won district.