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State law-making assemblies have consistently had a primary role in influencing outcomes for essential yet routine matters like state finances, insurance guidelines, traffic safety regulations, and civil amenities. However, recent years have highlighted their paramount significance in issues related to individual liberties and societal welfare.

One specific area where this has been prominently evident is in reproductive freedoms. Following the decline of Roe v. Wade in 2022, deciding on access to reproductive healthcare has almost entirely become the responsibility of state legislatures, alongside occasionally elected state Supreme Courts. This includes factors such as access to gender-affirming healthcare, the availability of Medicaid, and even the necessity of a background check to purchase a firearm. Additionally, the determination of voter eligibility—and the methods. The resolution of all these crucial matters primarily relies on the individuals elected to state legislatures.

That’s why raising funds for these contests has been a particular priority for the two political factions. In the current year, the primary organization dedicated to the election of Democrats to state law-making chambers across the nation, the Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee (DLCC), has achieved a new milestone in its fundraising efforts for the initial quarter: $6.9 million since January 2024.

This denotes an almost 8 percent increase from the corresponding period in the previous presidential election cycle, according to the DLCC. Simultaneously, the DLCC’s grassroots fundraising figures—accrued through digital, texting, and telemarketing campaigns—have surged by 45 percent compared to the organization’s previous best performance in the inaugural quarter. Since the inception of the 2024 campaign fundraising cycle (which commenced right after the 2022 mid-term elections), the DLCC has garnered $28 million towards its $60 million objective for 2024.

Nevertheless, despite these record numbers, the DLCC still trails behind the Republican State Leadership Committee and its associated nonprofit entity, the State Government Leadership Foundation. Together, these conservative entities raised $12 million in the initial quarter of 2024 and a cumulative $47 million at the regional level this cycle, surpassing the DLCC and its allied 501(c)(4) partners by $19 million.

“Republicans comprehend the significance of regional entities, particularly as the Supreme Court continues to defer issues to the states,” states Abhi Rahman, communications director for the DLCC, “and it’s at the state level where consequential freedoms are being determined.”

It’s not a new revelation that Republicans hold an advantage over Democrats in regional legislative contests. Throughout the initial Obama Administration, conservatives were establishing the tea party movement from the ground up while Democrats remained fixated on Washington. Post the 2010 mid-terms, Republicans reigned over the majority of state legislatures. Leveraging their newly fortified authority, state Republicans redesigned electoral boundaries in ways that fortified their existing positions in statehouses and acquired new ones. This maneuver also bolstered their standing at the federal level; as often, elected state legislators transform into formidable congressional contenders. In 2009, Republicans had legislative dominion over 14 states (Democratic lawmakers governed 27 states, 8 states had divided chambers, and one state, Nebraska, featured a singular nonpartisan chamber). By 2011, it was the Republicans who had esteemed authority in 27 states. Presently, they exercise command over 28 states.

Although OpenSecrets demonstrates that Democrats have outperformed Republicans at the national level in this cycle, this edge has not transferred to the state endeavors. “Merely funding the upper echelons isn’t adequate,” Rahman emphasizes. “This is the [governmental] layer that now necessitates more funding than ever before.”

“I believe Democrats are narrowing the gap,” Rahman concludes, “yet not swiftingly enough.”

Correction, April 16: Rahman’s name was spelled incorrectly in a previous version of this article.