We founded Progressive Takeover to target the most competitive state legislative contests in the country. Our programs use the latest in research-backed mobilization strategies and data-driven field tactics to increase Democratic voter turnout in key races.

In 2017, together with our affiliated organization Progressive Turnout Project, we sent 42 field representatives into 10 targeted state house districts in Virginia. Our programs were hugely successful, as we flipped all 10 districts from Republican to Democratic control. So far in 2018, we have helped contribute to Special Elections in Wisconsin and Minnesota. In both contests we saw huge swings, as Democrats won a much higher vote share than in previous elections. Later this year, we will bring our programs to some of the most competitive state legislative contests in the country.

Why State Races

Despite winning the popular vote by more than 3 million votes in 2016, Democrats are in the minority at almost every level. Though working to take back Congress is important and very necessary, the party imbalance in Washington pales in comparison to that of state houses: Republicans control 32 state legislatures and Democrats only 13.

It hasn’t always been this way, though. As recently as 2008, Democrats held the majority of state legislative chambers, as well as the House, the Senate, the majority of Governor’s mansions, and the White House. In 2010, however, Democrats suffered huge losses all over the country. Though Democrats lost seats at nearly every level of government, they lost the hardest at the state level. From 2008 to 2010, Democrats went from holding 60 of 96 legislative bodies to only 37. Though Democrats performed much better in 2012 (holding the Presidency and winning back Senate seats), they were not able to recover at the state level.

This is because the legislators elected in 2010 controlled the redistricting process, influencing election outcomes for the next decade. ​You can read more about redistricting here​, but essentially: every 10 years after the census, states redraw their congressional and legislative districts to reflect the people that live there. In a few states there is a commission who assists with drawing maps, but the vast majority of states grant this power to their state legislature. Very often, the party in control of the redistricting process draws the maps to favor their candidates. Our current maps are some of the worst our nation has ever seen, and multiple states—​including​ Wisconsin, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, and Texas—​​are currently facing legal challenges regarding the legality of their maps.


The next opportunity for redistricting will be in 2021, following the 2020 election and based on the results of the 2020 census. This means that if we don’t take our state chambers back before then, Democrats will suffer a whole additional decade of Republican control. Instead, by winning state legislative seats in 2018 and 2020, Democrats will have a larger say in 2021’s redistricting process. The progress we make in these two election cycles will have major electoral ramifications for the next decade.

As we saw in Virginia in 2017 and in a multitude of Special Elections in the Trump era, progressive voters are fired up and energized to take our government back. All over the country we are seeing previously “safe” Republican seats becoming competitive and often ​won ​by Democratic candidates! 2018 is a massive opportunity for us to elect strong progressive Democrats in the states. Our victories in 2018 will carry us forward into 2020, the next decade, and beyond!