I’m one of the people who argues that the Republicans have taken a thousand seats in recent years because they’ve been organizationally more effective :)
I take your point that some of these seats moved Democratic only during the high-water mark around 2008 and couldn’t be expected to stay blue. I also agree that Republican control of redistricting processes and efforts to reduce turnout are a factor (and I’ve written about some of those things on here myself.)
At the same time, as I wrote here last week, Republicans have accumulated an extensive advantage at the state and local level, and I don’t believe it’s just because of these coincidental or secondary factors. An interesting analysis in the Times shows that this is a long-term one-way trend; despite some blips in 2008 and 2018, the Republicans have been building on their gains for a quarter-century.
This isn’t just true for the state legislative seats which people usually talk about. The state constitutional offices (lieutenant governors, attorneys general, and the like) are overwhelmingly Republican, and this layer is the main pipeline for future gubernatorial and congressional candidates. At the next layer down, the municipal offices and minor state posts, it’s the same story.
My own opinion is, people who lean left/Democratic are more visible on social & traditional media and more likely to participate in demonstrations, but people who lean right/Republican are more likely to do something square like run for school board or county assessor. Whether you agree with that theory or not, the truth is that Republicans, for whatever reason(s), have been more effective at controlling the lower levels of the political pyramid over the last 25–30 years, and that has translated into a lot of power over peoples’ lives with respect to everyday issues like education, taxes, services for the elderly & disabled, employment, unions and workers’ rights, the opioid crisis, LGBTQ rights, law enforcement, redistricting, housing affordability, and on and on.
Anyway, thanks for this article and for refuting some of the common misunderstandings.