Skip to main content
Part of complete coverage from

GOP has power where it counts: the states

By Roland Martin, CNN Contributor
updated 11:11 AM EDT, Mon March 18, 2013
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Roland Martin: Political echo chamber says GOP doomed by its losses in 2012 election
  • Don't believe it, he says -- GOP has power where it counts: governors, state legislatures
  • He says Dems claim minorities, women, but GOP plans big push for those voters
  • Martin: GOP pushing inroads at state level, not seriously changing policy; Dems, wise up

Editor's note: Roland Martin is a syndicated columnist and author of "The First: President Barack Obama's Road to the White House." He is a commentator for the TV One cable network and host/managing editor of its Sunday morning news show, "Washington Watch with Roland Martin."

(CNN) -- If you listen to the groupthink echo-chamber know-it-alls in Washington, the Republican Party has been decimated, destroyed, discombobulated and utterly distressed to the point of putting a "going out of business" sign out front and closing up shop for good.

Reality says that's ridiculous.

On the national level, the GOP controls the U.S. House of Representatives while Democrats control the U.S. Senate and the Oval Office.

Roland Martin
Roland Martin

But the real power for the Republicans is on the state level, and there they are dominating Democrats.

Republicans control the governor's mansion in Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Maine, Michigan, Mississippi, Nebraska, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Wisconsin and Wyoming.

Become a fan of CNNOpinion
Stay up to date on the latest opinion, analysis and conversations through social media. Join us at Facebook/CNNOpinion and follow us @CNNOpinion on Twitter. We welcome your ideas and comments.



Folks, that's 30 out of the 50 states in the nation. The Democrats have governors in 19 states. (Rhode Island's governor is an independent.)

What about both chambers on the state level? The GOP controls the legislature in Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Louisiana, Michigan Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Wisconsin and Wyoming.

Count 'em up and that's 26. The Democrats control 18 legislatures. Five of the remaining six are split between the two chambers and one has a nonpartisan, one-chamber legislature.

So much of the national media attention is always focused on what's happening in Washington, but that is a common mistake that the political bosses keep making. Every Sunday show on broadcast and cable parades the usual suspects from the U.S. Senate and sometimes a few influential U.S. House members, but it would make far more sense to be talking to governors, key state officials and mayors for a real understanding of what's happening in America.

RNC 'autopsy' details 2012 problems
Political Panel: Re-branding the GOP
Hear the best zingers from CPAC
Jeb Bush compares GOP to mullets

The GOP has been doing a lot of soul-searching and head-scratching since Mitt Romney was pummeled by President Barack Obama in November. Republican Party leaders are being told that they must soften their stance on gay and lesbian issues, flip the script on immigration reform, stop dissing women at every turn, and become more "compassionate" -- like George W. Bush when he was selling his candidacy in 2000.

On Monday, the Republican National Committee announced its 2012 election postmortem, which called for, among other things, an aggressive new push to reach minorities in the states.

Meanwhile, Democrats are giddy, believing they have found a winning formula for the next generation by turning out young folks, gay and lesbian folks, black voters, Latino voters and lots of women. Sure, that coalition worked well for Obama, but there is no guarantee it will be the key to success for the next Democratic presidential candidate.

So while Democrats salivate at the prospect of winning the White House in 2016, Republicans continue to lay the groundwork for taking over the state houses and gubernatorial mansions, and building a formidable team of next-generation politicians to dominate there and in the White House.

In fact, many Republicans have told me they couldn't care less about Washington, because legislation with real impact is being proposed and passed in the states. That's why you've seen groups quietly backing initiatives on the state level and bypassing the hot lights and screaming media in Washington.

The real battles on same-sex marriage, abortion, education, spending, labor unions, and, yes, the Affordable Care Act are happening state by state. And Democrats are being caught flat-footed because they ignored the admonition of former Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean to create a 50-state party, and instead, created a party that cared more about Congress and the White House.

Think about it: Obama won Ohio, Florida, Michigan, Pennsylvania, New Mexico and Nevada, all states with GOP governors. So clearly voters in those states chose the Republican alternative in statewide elections, but when it came to the presidency, said "No thanks."

I'm not buying for a second this silly notion that the GOP will have a Damascus Road experience and drastically change. It's not going to happen. There will be some movement on the national level, but Republican grass-roots organizers are very well aware that the message the GOP is selling statewide is a winning formula.

Trust me, Republicans are concocting other pieces of legislation to bring change on the state level, regardless of what's happening in Washington.

The political adage "All politics is local" has not changed.

Maybe more of my brothers and sisters in Washington need to get outside the Beltway, hit the road and discover the far more expansive America that is happening outside Washington, Maryland, Virginia, New York and New Jersey. If they do, they'll find out that the conventional wisdom is pretty much worthless.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
updated 12:41 PM EDT, Wed April 23, 2014
Robert Hickey says most new housing development is high-end, catering to high-earners.
updated 9:17 AM EDT, Wed April 23, 2014
Alexander Motyl says as Russian President Putin snarled at Ukraine, his foreign minister was signing a conciliatory accord with the West. Whatever the game, the accord is a major stand down by Russia
updated 8:29 AM EDT, Wed April 23, 2014
Les Abend says at every turn, the stowaway teen defied the odds of discovery and survival. What pilot would have thought to look for a person in the wheel well?
updated 7:04 AM EDT, Thu April 24, 2014
Q & A with artist Rachel Sussman on her new book of photographs, "The Oldest Living Things in the World."
updated 3:58 PM EDT, Tue April 22, 2014
Martin Blaser says the overuse of antibiotics threatens to deplete our bodies of "good" microbes, leaving us vulnerable to an unstoppable plague--an "antibiotic winter"
updated 1:37 PM EDT, Tue April 22, 2014
John Sutter asks: Is it possible to eat meat in modern-day America and consider yourself an environmentalist without being a hypocrite?
updated 11:38 AM EDT, Tue April 22, 2014
Sally Kohn notes that Meb Keflezighi rightly was called an American after he won the Boston Marathon, but his status in the U.S. once was questioned
updated 8:56 AM EDT, Tue April 22, 2014
Denis Hayes and Scott Denman say on this Earth Day, the dawn of the Solar Age is already upon us and the Atomic Age of nuclear power is in decline
updated 4:36 PM EDT, Mon April 21, 2014
Retired Coast Guard officer James Loy says a ship captain bears huge responsibility.
updated 1:08 PM EDT, Mon April 21, 2014
Peter Bergen says the latest strikes are part of an aggressive U.S. effort to target militants, including a bomb maker
updated 9:45 AM EDT, Mon April 21, 2014
Cynthia Lummis and Peter Welch say 16 agencies carry out national intelligence, and their budgets are top secret. We need to know how they are spending our money.
updated 8:35 AM EDT, Mon April 21, 2014
Julian Zelizer says President Obama knows more than anyone that he has much at stake in the midterm elections.
updated 8:55 AM EDT, Tue April 22, 2014
Eric Sanderson says if you really want to strike a blow for the environment--and your health--this Earth Day, work to get cars out of cities and create transportation alternatives
updated 10:08 AM EDT, Mon April 21, 2014
Bruce Barcott looks at the dramatic differences in marijuana laws in Colorado and Louisiana
updated 4:47 PM EDT, Fri April 18, 2014
Jim Bell says NASA's latest discovery supports the notion that habitable worlds are probably common in the galaxy.
updated 2:17 PM EDT, Fri April 18, 2014
Jay Parini says even the Gospels skip the actual Resurrection and are sketchy on the appearances that followed.
updated 1:52 PM EDT, Fri April 18, 2014
Graham Allison says if an unchecked and emboldened Russia foments conflict in a nation like Latvia, a NATO member, the West would have to defend it.
updated 9:11 AM EDT, Fri April 18, 2014
John Sutter: Bad news, guys -- the pangolin we adopted is missing.
updated 2:25 PM EDT, Mon April 21, 2014
Ben Wildavsky says we need a better way to determine whether colleges are turning out graduates with superior education and abilities.
updated 6:26 AM EDT, Fri April 18, 2014
Charles Maclin, program manager working on the search and recovery of Malaysia Flight 370, explains how it works.
updated 8:50 AM EDT, Fri April 18, 2014
Jill Koyama says Michael Bloomberg is right to tackle gun violence, but we need to go beyond piecemeal state legislation.
updated 2:45 PM EDT, Thu April 17, 2014
Michael Bloomberg and Shannon Watts say Americans are ready for sensible gun laws, but politicians are cowed by the NRA. Everytown for Gun Safety will prove the NRA is not that powerful.
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT