That's the current number of state legislative chambers* that the GOP will be controlling, starting next year: there are still five state legislative chambers still undecided, so the number could go as high as 59 of 99. That represents a flip of eighteen state chambers (and the gain of both houses in the state legislature in six states) by the GOP; couple that with a +7 to +10 gain in governorships and it was a good night for the Republicans on the state level.
This is important for two reasons (besides the obvious one that this makes it easier to pass conservative/Republican policies): first, it cuts deeply into the available pool for up-and-coming Democratic legislators who would like to be Federal Congressmen and Senators - or, for that matter, governors. Second, it neatly spokes the wheel of the Democrats' long-term project to have control over the redistricting process. In 2011, the redistricting process will require the maps to be redrawn in eighteen states; and it was always the goal of the Democratic party to have unilateral oversight over that process, the better to eliminate troublesome Republicans via gerrymandering. Thanks largely to the RGA, that's a lot less of a problem than it was before: of the eighteen states that are going to gain/lose seats, at least thirteen will have Republican governors, which will help keep the shenanigans down.
In short: Tuesday was a great night for the GOP, on pretty much every level that you would care to name.
Moe Lane (crosspost)
*Nebraska has an unicameral legislature.