Initial Legislative Wrap-up
Here’s what we know: Many legislative chambers hang in the balance as the clock reaches midnight at NCSL’s election central in Denver. However, both Democrats and Republicans have chalked up wins at the state legislative level thus far.
For Republicans, their biggest prize might be winning the Arkansas Senate for the first time since reconstruction. Control of the Arkansas House, also Democratic since the 1870s, is still undecided but appears as it will go to Republicans pending the outcome of at least one recount. Republicans also won back the Wisconsin Senate while holding the Assembly there. The Badger State Senate had only been in the hands of Democrats for a few months since a recall switched a Senate seat a few months ago. The Alaska Senate will be Republican after being tied for four years.
Democrats appear to have gained a narrow majority in the New York Senate. They also won back the Colorado House and took the previously tied Oregon House. It’s still too early to make it official, but if trends hold, it appears as if Democrats will win back both chambers in both Minnesota and Maine. All four of those chambers went to Republicans in the wave election of 2010.
Democrats will almost certainly net more seats than the GOP, continuing a strong “coattails” trend. Including this year, the party winning the White House has gained seats in legislatures in 21 of the past 29 presidential-cycle elections. Democrats will clearly have their biggest gains in New Hampshire where they have gained at least 80 seats. President Barack Obama’s party also made gains in the Iowa and Michigan Houses but appear to have fallen short of winning majorities in those chambers.
Key races in Nevada, Iowa, New Hampshire, and New Mexico are still undecided, and all of those states could wind up changing.
At this point, one big takeaway is that we may wind up with the lowest number of divided state legislatures in over 30 years. In 1982, there were only four divided legislatures where one party held one chamber and the other party held the opposite chamber. As of now, only Kentucky and Virginia have divided legislatures. Iowa may wind up divided. The last time that there were fewer divided legislatures was in 1928 when there were two.