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John Oliver takes on state legislators, the most important politicians you're ignoring

Dylan Matthews is a senior correspondent and head writer for Vox's Future Perfect section and has worked at Vox since 2014. He is particularly interested in global health and pandemic prevention, anti-poverty efforts, economic policy and theory, and conflicts about the right way to do philanthropy.

National coverage of the 2014 midterm elections has understandably centered on congressional races. But while those elections matter, their importance will likely pale in comparison to that of state legislature races. Given that there will still be a Democrat in the White House come January, and there will almost certainly still be a Republican House, we can expect the legislative paralysis of the past four years to hold.

The state legislatures are a different story. They're much more up for grabs (as are many governorships), and they have real power. As Matt Yglesias points out, states have more influence than Congress over K-12 and higher education, criminal justice, housing, and transportation, among many other issues. And the comparative lack of scrutiny to which they're subject can lead, as John Oliver describes above, to some pretty stunning cases of corruption, as well as more run-of-the-mill corporate influence.

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