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美国中期选举最大的变化不在国会,而在各州

Thad Kousser 2019年08月21日

民主党并未取得大规模胜利,但各个州稳定而持续的“变蓝”趋势将对今后几年的情况产生影响。

美国中期选举的新闻尽是民主党“占领”众议院以及共和党“保住”参议院,在这些消息背后,有件大事却没怎么引起关注。在各州议会,2018年中期选举明确地“向左转向”——没有哪个州出现分裂,民主党扩大了地盘,从内华达到维斯康星,从堪萨斯到缅因都是如此。

民主党并未取得大规模胜利,但各个州稳定而持续的“变蓝”趋势将对今后几年的情况产生影响。民主党控制了六个州的议会,包括科罗拉多州、康涅狄格州、新罕布什尔州和缅因州的参议院以及明尼苏达州和新罕布什尔州的众议院。共和党则丢失了四个州的议会。民主党还拿下了七个州的州长宝座,分别是内华达、新墨西哥、堪萨斯、伊利诺伊、维斯康星、密歇根和缅因,只是丢了阿拉斯加州。

这让2016年的右转趋势出现了大反转。唐纳德·特朗普赢得历史性胜利后,共和党控制了25个州的州长职位和议会,而民主党即拿下州长又控制议会的州只有八个。在2018年中期选举前,民主党已经显著缩小了与共和党的差距,掌握了14个州,共和党手中则有21个州。

对民主、共和两党来说,上述结果的影响将持续很长时间。尽管在美国各个层级的政府中,州政府有时会被忽视,但他们的决定对眼下的重大政治问题以及明天的政治“战场”来说都很关键。

投票站出口调查显示,选民们认为最重要的问题是医疗保险。让奥巴马医改方案获得通过以及随后推翻该方案的斗争主导了近10年的美国政治。但州政府一直左右着医保法律付诸实施的方式和区域。2012年美国最高法院裁定《平价医保法案》基本符合宪法,但同时推翻了要求各州大举扩展医疗补助保险(Medicaid)的条款。

蓝色州急于扩大医保覆盖面,许多红色州则不然。共和党人利用他们对州议会的控制表达了对此项全国性法律的强烈反对,而且阻止了14个州按照奥巴马医改方案来扩展医疗补助保险。对目前美国政界最具争议的问题来说,各州的政治很重要。

州政府和地方教育委员会同样长期控制着教育方面的重大问题。虽然联邦政府可以通过“悬赏”或扣留拨款来鼓励或惩罚州教育部门,但学校实际上是在州和地方政府的掌控之下。州长和州议员决定了哪些州采用对特性学校有利的共同核心课程标准(Common Core),以及公立学校学生是否可以用教育券去上私立学校。在对许多家庭来说都最为重要的问题上,关键在于谁控制着州议会,而不是国会由谁掌握。

最后,对今后10年的美国政治而言,尤为关键的一点是最激烈政治斗争的前线确实要由各州来划定。重新划分选区的权力掌握在各个州手里。在美国的50个州中,重新划分选区方案,或者说划分州议会和国会选区的地图,大多都要由州议会制定。虽然有些州通过委员会来制定这项方案,但在大多数州,这份地图必须获得州议会和州长批准。

直到本次中期选举前,共和党一直都拥有巨大优势,因为它控制的州政府要多得多。共和党人掌握着划分选区的权力,2020年人口普查过后,他们就可以在重新划分各州选区时拥有决定自身命运的大权。而现在,除非2020年大选再次向右转,否则民主党将在至少三分之一的州把控着对选区的重新划分。

主宰本周新闻的国会选举情况很重要,这一点无可置疑。但各州选举同样要紧。在华盛顿,参议院的败退冲淡了民主党重掌众议院的喜悦。但在各州首府,一股持续的蓝色浪潮让民主党重新掌控了许多州议会和州长宝座,尽管这可能悄然无声,但将对美国政治产生非常大的影响。(香港特别财富网)

撒德·库瑟尔是加州大学圣迭戈分校政治学系主任,他和别人共同编撰了《美国各州政治》一书。

译者:Charlie

审校:夏林

Buried beneath the headlines of midterm elections that were all about blue gains in the House and the red hold over the Senate, a major story broke that has escaped much notice. In statehouses across the country, the 2018 elections brought an unequivocal shift to the left. There was no split decision in the states—Democrats gained ground, from Nevada to Wisconsin, from Kansas to Maine.

Democratic wins did not come on a massive scale, but the solid and consistent blue trend across the states will have an impact for years to come. Democrats took control of six chambers, seizing the senates of Colorado, Connecticut, New Hampshire, and Maine, and winning control of the Minnesota and New Hampshire houses. Republicans lost four chambers. Democrats also gained seven governorships, capturing Nevada, New Mexico, Kansas, Illinois, Wisconsin, Michigan, and Maine, while losing one in Alaska.

This reversed a significant shift to the right in 2016. After Donald Trump’s historic win, Republicans controlled both the governor’s seat and the legislature in 25 states, while Democrats had unified control of only eight states. In the wake of the 2018 midterms, Democrats have come much closer to leveling the playing field, controlling 14 states to the Republicans Party’s 21.

For both parties, these results will reverberate for a long time. Even though state governments sometimes escape notice beneath the layers of American government, their decisions are vital to both the key policy issues of today and political battlegrounds of tomorrow.

According to exit polls, the single most important issue to voters was health care. The fight to pass and then to repeal Obamacare has dominated national politics for nearly a decade. But state governments have wielded power over how and where the health care law will be put into practice. When the Supreme Court upheld the Affordable Care Act’s basic constitutionality in 2012, it overturned the provision that required states to expand their Medicaid programs dramatically.

Blue states eagerly widened their health care safety nets, but many red states did not. Using their control of statehouses to voice their strong opposition to the national law, Republicans have prevented the adoption of Obamacare’s Medicaid expansion in 14 states. State politics matter when it comes to the most controversial issue in American politics right now.

State governments and local school boards also wield control over the perennially important issue of education. While federal authorities can incentivize and punish state education departments by dangling or withholding grants, schools are really run at the state and local level. Governors and legislators have decided which states have adopted the national Common Core standards, which are friendly to charter schools, and whether public school students can receive vouchers to attend private schools. On the issue that matters most for many families, what counts the most is who runs a statehouse, rather than who sits in Congress.

Lastly, but most critical to the contours of American politics over the next decade, states literally draw the battle lines of our roughest political fights. The power to redistrict resides in the states. A redistricting plan—the map of lines that defines districts in both state legislatures and for Congress—is a bill written by most of the 50 state legislatures. Although some states draw their plans through commissions, in most capitals, legislators and the governor must agree on a map.

Until these midterms, Republicans held a huge advantage by controlling so many more state governments. With the authority to draw district lines, they held significant power to determine their destiny when redistricting comes to the states after the 2020 census. Now, unless the 2020 elections bring another rightward shift, Democrats will control redistricting in at least a third of states.

The stakes of the congressional elections that have dominated the news this week are undeniably huge. But so too are the stakes in the states. In Washington, D.C., the Democratic joy over retaking the House was tempered by losses in the Senate. In state capitals across the country, a consistently blue wave put Democrats back in power in many of the chambers and governors’ seats that play such a crucial, if quiet, role in American politics.

Thad Kousser is the chair of the Department of Political Science at UC San Diego and the co-editor of Politics in the American States.

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