by Tim Storey
All of the standard disclaimers apply. Elections were held for legislative seats in six chambers on Tuesday and based on the unofficial, preliminary results and pending recounts, Democrats appear to have clawed to new, narrow majorities in the Mississippi and Virginia Senates. In addition, they maintained majority status in both New Jersey chambers and the Mississippi House. The GOP held its majority control in the Virginia House of Delegates although they appear to have lost a few seats. If those results hold, Democrats will control 23 legislatures; Republicans control 14 legislatures, and 12 are split between the two parties.
In Virginia, the unofficial returns show that Democrats won 21 Senate seats and Republicans won 19. Going into the election, it was 23 R and 17 D. Democrats knocked off at least a couple of GOP incumbents including northern Virginia Senator Jeannemarie Devolites Davis and Senator Nick Rerras. The AP reported that Virginia legislative candidates raised over $60 million for legislative elections this year (call it the "redistricting factor"). Democrats have not controlled either chamber in Virginia since the 1999 election.
Democrats appear to have won 28 of the 52 Mississippi Senate races giving them a majority in the Senate although several races are still very close and could wind up being recounted. Democrats picked off three incumbent Republican Senators in the Magnolia State--Sen. Ralph Doxey, Sen. Richard White and Sen. James Walley--but lost one of their own incumbents when Democratic Senator Gloria Williamson lost. Mississippi Democrats also held their majority in the House perhaps losing one seat to make it 74 D--48 R.
New Jersey Republicans actually netted a one seat gain, but Democrats still control both houses comfortably. Preliminary numbers for the New Jersey Senate are 23 D and 17 R. In the New Jersey Assembly, it will be 48 D, 32 R. The big story in New Jersey is turnover. Over a third of Garden State legislators will be new in 2008--term limits like turnover in a non-term limited state.
Results from the second branch of state government were less exciting and went as predicted with Mississippi Republican governor Haley Barbour cruising to re-election while Kentucky incumbent Republican governor Ernie Fletcher lost. Factoring in legislative and gubernatorial control, Democrats now have the reins of state government in 15 states, and Republicans hold all the marbles in 10 states. In 24 states, power is divided between the two parties.
A 50 state table of partisan control of legislatures is on NCSL's website here.
Updated 11/7/07, 9:49am MST