So put aside the horrific examples John Oliver points out above of shenanigans happening in statehouses all across the country. (Truly. Horrific.) Fact is, Congress has a well-earned reputation for gridlock, whereas statehouses are where bills actually become laws–more than 24,000 this year alone, according to a Washington Post article cited by Oliver. That compares to Congress’ 185 bills passed since January 2013. With that workhorse-meets-constipation disparity in mind then, consider that as of Tuesday, according to Facing South, the GOP further tightened its already dominant grip over the South, gaining 64 seats. (In Alabama, for example, the GOP controls every statewide elected office and all but one congressional seat.) Nationwide, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures, after final votes are tallied and recounted, “it appears that Republicans will have a net gain of between 350 and 375 seats and control over 4,100 of the nation’s 7,383 legislative seats”–giving some indication of the thousands of laws to pass (or progressive legislation to stall) over the next few years on everything from abortion rights to low-wage labor organizing, paid sick leave, health care and more.
“Statehouses do a huge amount of work while no one is watching,” Oliver says. He’s right. Less than one-third of U.S. newspapers assign a reporter to the statehouse and nearly 90 percent of local TV news stations do not either, according to a Pew analysis released this July.