FROM THE HILL
Election Day is Almost Here
2020 State Elections Will Bring Real Change to Your Community and the Industry
By Caroline Fletcher
Control of the house, senate and/or governorship is within reach of either party in many states. The 2020 election will impact which state bills become law in the next few years in addition to state and federal redistricting for the next decade.
You don’t have to keep up with the fast-paced and turbulent world of politics to know that there is a presidential election on November 3. President Donald Trump is facing former Vice President Joe Biden in a race to control the White House for the next four years. The president of the United States is the most consequential elected office in America, and the outcome of this race will greatly impact the direction of the country and the lives of its citizens. Yet few people recognize the importance of the countless other elections taking place in November that will directly affect their lives in a substantive way for years to come.
State-level elections hardly receive much attention, fanfare or excitement, as newspapers and talking heads on cable news are almost singularly focused on the race for the presidency and key congressional races. State elections are usually put on with less funding, and those running are generally not well known, save for yard signs that pop up in your community in the weeks leading up to election day. However, the importance of the outcome of those elections cannot be overstated, especially in 2020.
There are multiple states where control of the house, senate and/or governorship is within reach of either party. Those elections are important for several reasons, one of which is that the U.S. Census is being counted in 2020.
In 2021 new districts will be drawn up for state legislators and U.S. House members to represent. In most states, state legislative and congressional district lines are redrawn by state legislatures based on the results of the census and will remain in place through 2030. The party that controls the statehouse after the 2020 election will have greater control of redistricting, which in turn can influence elections for an entire decade.
While the balance of power in states following the 2020 election can impact redistricting, it also influences which state bills are introduced and passed in the next couple of years. The party that controls the state legislature generally controls the bills that are passed, and the views of the governor can impact whether that legislation becomes law.
State laws have an enormous impact on the automotive aftermarket industry—more than most people may realize. States can set their own maximum exhaust-noise levels for vehicles and have their own policies regarding the titling and registration of specialty and antique vehicles. States that require an inspection can set unreasonable standards, excluding countless vehicles from being able to be registered, enjoyed and modified by aftermarket parts. Below are examples of states with competitive races in 2020 where the balance of power could easily shift on Election Day, shaping the laws over the next decade that impact you.
The North Carolina state government is locked in a tight race for party control. The governorship and all the seats in the house and senate are up for grabs this November. Currently, the state has a Democrat governor, while both the house and senate have Republican majorities. Republicans have maintained a stronghold over the state legislature in recent history, with both houses containing Republican majorities since 2011. Democrats chipped away at the Republican majorities during the 2018 election, gaining seats in both houses but failing to secure majorities.
There is a lot at stake in the ballot box on November 3. Exercising your right to vote is the only way to help ensure that the people who represent you on the local, state and federal levels align with your values and can best represent your interests.
This year, Democrats would have to gain six seats to become the majority party in the North Carolina house and only five to control the state senate. Current Democrat Governor Roy Cooper holds a slight lead in recent polls over his Republican opponent, Dan Forest, in the gubernatorial race. The direction of policymaking in the Tar Heel state for the foreseeable future depends on whether one party controls the governor’s office and both houses or if there is split control between the parties.
While North Carolina is seen by Democrats as an opportunity to flip control in their direction, Republicans look to reclaim control of the Colorado Senate, which would break the state’s Democratic trifecta (i.e. a state where majorities of both chambers of the legislature and the governor are from the same political party).
Colorado just became a trifecta state in 2018 when Democrats took control of the state senate. To break that control, Republicans need to flip only two of the 18 seats up for election in November while holding onto the seats they currently have. Winning back a majority in the state senate and dismantling the trifecta would give Republicans considerably more negotiating power during the 2021 legislative session.
Both states also have highly competitive and publicized U.S. Senate races, which can have an impact on the rest of the races down the ballot. However, studies have shown that more than 30% of voters will not fill out their entire ballot in some years. Make sure you are informed about the candidates running in your state and local elections and take time to learn about their views on issues that are important to you. A little research will ensure that you are fully prepared to exert your civic duty.
There is a lot at stake on November 3. Exercising your right to vote is the only way to help ensure that the people who represent you on the local, state and federal levels align with your values and can best represent your interests.