The Legislature’s current balances are 60 Republicans and 10 Democrats in the House of Representatives; and 29 Republicans and six Democrats in the Senate.
Legislators draw new boundaries for their 35 districts – one senators and two representatives – after the U.S. census each decade.
The most-recent census occurred in 2011 and legislators drew boundaries in a special session later that year for the November 2012 elections.
Republicans had a two-thirds majority in each chamber in 2012 and again in 2013.
They went from a 51-19 advantage in the House in 2012 to 53-17 in 2013, a gain of two seats.
The Senate went from 30-5 to 28-7.
Looking back to the 2001 redistricting, Republicans had a two-thirds majority in the House, with a 50-20 advantage in 2002 and a 49-21 advantage in 2003.
The Senate also was in two-thirds control of Republicans, as the chamber went from 24-11 to 26-9.
The 1992 redistricting came amid a brief resurgence, at least on the Senate side of the Capitol. The House of Representatives fluctuated somewhat.
Republicans held a 45-25 advantage in 1991 and a 42-29 advantage in 1993 before returning to 46-24 in 1995.
The Senate switched from an 18-17 advantage for Republicans in 1991, to a 20-15 advantage for Democrats in 1993. The chamber returned to Republican control in 1995 at 19-16.
The 1994 Republican nominee for governor, Bill Janklow, and the Republican Party’s statewide chairman at the time pushed for Republicans to regain control of the Senate and put an end to the Democratic uptick in the House. They succeeded.
Democrats controlled the House chamber only a handful of times in South Dakota’s history. The first times came in 1933 and 1935. They managed a 35-35 tie in the 1973-74 session.
The Senate came under Democratic control seven times. The first era was 1933, 1935 and 1937. The next came in 1959, then 1973 and 1975, and again in 1993.
But Democrats also found themselves without any senators in 1945, 1947 and 1953.
The conclusion I draw is that high voter registration for Democrats coincided with the brief times that Democrats controlled one or both chambers of the Legislature.