Writing at Democracy, Alexander Hertel-Fernandez observes that conservative organizations have invested heavily in state-level political races and policy proposals — giving them a legislative advantage there even as Democratic policies often remain more popular overall. As he notes,
Across much of America, conservatives can mount powerful state legislative campaigns through three well-funded networks that operate as complements to one another. Think tanks affiliated with the State Policy Network (SPN) spew out studies and prepare op-eds and legislative testimony. Paid state directors and staffers installed by Americans for Prosperity (AFP) sponsor bus tours, convene rallies and public forums, run radio and television ads, send mailers, and spur activists to contact legislators. And inside the legislatures themselves, many representatives and senators, especially Republicans, are members of [the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC)], which invites them to serve alongside business lobbyists and right-wing advocacy groups on national task forces that prepare “model” bills that the legislators can advance at the state and local level, with assistance from ALEC staffers. Year in and year out, this three-pronged approach ensures that a steady diet of conservative proposals is on the menu for legislative consideration and public discussion—and when political openings appear, dramatic policy changes can result.