“I think it’s crucial that if we Republicans are going to succeed, we need to do so at all levels,” he told Fox News on Tuesday.
That’s because controlling state legislatures gives the party in power influence over congressional districting.
So the North Carolina Republican, the frontrunner in his reelection race, spent this election season donating his own money, steering PAC dollars and soliciting other conservative donors throughout the election cycle to counter Democratic donors from places as far away as California and New York. Many of the beneficiaries were lawmakers Murphy said he already knew from his days as a state legislator.
“I felt it imperative that I get together and help these folks because so much was at stake,” he said. “With a rising tide, all boats rise.”
The result of work like Murphy’s, in North Carolina and other states, has been state-level success that likely could shape the electorate for the next decade, potentially enhancing the GOP’s footing as early as the 2022 midterm elections.
In some states, redistricting powers were given to independent committees. But in many others, the party that controls a state’s legislature generally has the power to gerrymander, or redraw district maps in a way that defends its interests. Also, as state populations change, they lose or gain congressional seats, and the party in control gets to draw in new districts or cross out those that have become defunct.
In North Carolina, where the GOP expanded its legislative control and in which Murphy said he expects to gain a congressional seat, Republicans will have the upper hand in designing its footprint.
Until the next redistricting after the 2030 Census, district maps in most cases can only be redrawn under court order – but Murphy said state courts also saw Republican victories on Election Day with the election of conservative judges.
“In North Carolina, as it stands right now, the Democrats had a 6 to 1 majority on our Supreme Court,” Murphy said. Republicans won at least two of the three contested judge seats this year — and they have a chance at winning the third.
“Democrats’ mantra for the last decade has been sue until you’re blue,” he said, noting that North Carolina underwent four redistrictings since 2010 due to legal decisions. Having a more conservative court could have changed the outcome of those cases — and of other election issues like voter-ID laws, which Murphy said has widespread public support in his state.
Murphy cruised to a definitive victory in his reelection campaign with more than 63% of the vote, and he said that freed him up to aid North Carolina House and Senate candidates with whom he’d worked in the past. He was elected to the state’s House of Representatives in 2015 and served there until his election to the U.S. House of Representatives four years later.
As for the polling that widely predicted a blue wave that failed to materialize, Murphy said the organizations that conduct them should reevaluate their approach.
“A lot of pollsters either need to give up their job or figure out what they did wrong,” he said.
The Republican State Leadership Committee, the largest caucus of Republican state leaders in the nation, said it was pleasantly surprised by the results on and after Election Day.
In a statement, the leadership committee Deputy Executive Director David Abrams noted that Democrats have spent millions to flip state chambers. “So far, they don’t have a damn thing to show for it,” he added.
Committee spokeswoman Lenze Morris told Fox News last week that it was “kind of jaw-dropping” Republicans were able to hold on to their seats.
For their part, Democrats have blamed both polling errors and the fact that many current districts have been drawn by the GOP for their losses.
Fox News’ Julia Musto contributed to this report.