It’s Status Quo in the States > National Conference of State Legislatures

election 2020 states legislative partisan control

By Tim Storey and Wendy Underhill

For the visual learners out there, compare the postelection map of legislative control against the map of preelection control. Can you spot the differences? Probably not. At this point there are no changes. That is phenomenal in and of itself.

election 2020 states legislative partisan controlAs of now, NCSL has not confirmed that any chambers have switched party control, although at least two are looking possible based on trends in results posted to this point. Democrats look like they will win the Arizona House for the first time since 1966. Republicans are poised to win back the New Hampshire Senate that went Democratic just two years ago.

Control of several other chambers is still undetermined. (It’s not news at this point that ballot counting goes on longer in some states than in others.)

We’re still waiting on results to finalize chamber control in the Arizona House, Arizona Senate, New Hampshire House, Michigan House, New Hampshire Senate, Pennsylvania House and both chambers in Nevada.

But of the chambers we can call, we have zero changes so far. In other words, this appears to be a remarkably status quo election in the U.S. states.

It looks like this will be the least party control changes on Election Day since at least 1944 when only four chambers changed hands. It’s still possible that there could be even fewer than four flips as a result of Tuesday’s voting. In the 1926 and 1928 elections, only one chamber changed hands. And 2020 could conceivably match that. Stay tuned.

Even adding in the governors’ races leads to hardly any change in the state partisan landscape. There was only one party change among the chief executives, and that was in the open governor’s race in Montana. Term-limited Democratic Governor Steve Bullock ran for Congress, and Republican candidate Greg Gianforte took the mansion back for the GOP.

That win led to the only new trifecta in the nation, in Big Sky Country.

It is possible that Republicans will lose their unified control in Arizona, meaning the number of D, R and divided states stays exactly the same. No other changes are expected in the trifecta unless late returns in New Hampshire’s 400-member House, notoriously always hard to pin down, plus a GOP pick-up of the Granite State Senate leads to a new GOP trifecta there.

As it stands now, the lack of partisan change in the states is jaw dropping.

Tim Storey is NCSL’s executive director.

Wendy Underhill is NCSL’s diector of Elections and Redistricting.

Email Tim

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