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Red State Blues: How the Conservative Revolution Stalled in the States, Matt Grossmann

Reviewed by Adam S. Myers

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Over the past 10 years, a common narrative has emerged around the rise of conservative policymaking in the states, with several key facets. First, the conservative state-level ascendancy is said to have been decades in the making, the product of the conservative movement’s long-term strategy of reshaping American public policy by securing Republican control of state governments. The strategy has been buttressed, it is then said, by sophisticated gerrymanders and voting law changes that Republicans implemented after they gained control of numerous states in the early 2010s. These changes insulated state-level Republicans from future electoral backlash, the narrative continues, allowing them to overcome the opposition of electoral majorities and radically shift state policymaking in a conservative direction.

In Red State Blues, Matt Grossmann dives deeply into the data to evaluate the foregoing narrative more rigorously than anyone else has. His results and conclusions undermine major portions of it.

To be clear, Grossmann does not dispute that the GOP has gained unprecedented power in numerous states, or that Republicans have in many cases successfully altered political institutions in order to entrench themselves. But Grossmann’s main interest is

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