While most news outlets focused on who will control the U.S. House and Senate, state governments saw a shake-up in party control of both governorships and statehouses. Republicans have held wide control of state governments since the 2010 midterm elections. But now, eight years later, Democrats have begun to chip away at Republican domination in the states. The bullet points below from the Council of State Chambers’ Policy Center summarize the change in legislative and executive power across the states:
- Governors (D+7): Overall, Democrats gained seven governorships after last Tuesday night with big wins in Kansas and Wisconsin, while Republicans won the seat of Alaska’s independent governor. Georgia remains too close to call and could very well head to a runoff election.
- Legislative Chambers (D+5): Results from over 6,000 state legislative races will take a few days to finalize, but it looks like Democrats will take control of six legislative chambers: the Minnesota House, Maine Senate, New York Senate, Colorado Senate, both the House and Senate in New Hampshire, and have broken a tied chamber in the Connecticut Senate. Republicans were able to take back control of the Alaska Senate. We now project that only one legislature in the country — the Minnesota Legislature — will have split party control in 2019 (with Democrats controlling the House and Republicans the Senate). The remaining 49 states will be split: 31 under Republican control and 18 under Democratic control of both chambers.
- Trifectas (D+6 / R-3): Pre-election, Republicans controlled both the legislature and governorship in 26 states, while Democrats held the same in only eight states (and only six prior to last year’s elections in New Jersey and Washington). After Tuesday, it appears that Democrats have gained six new trifectas in Illinois, New Mexico, Nevada, Maine, Colorado, and New York. Republicans gained a trifecta in Alaska and lost trifectas in Kansas, Wisconsin, New Hampshire, and Michigan.
There were 36 gubernatorial seats up for election this year, 26 of which are currently held by Republicans. Democrats have flipped governor’s mansions in seven states, capturing Michigan, Illinois, Kansas, Maine, Wisconsin, Nevada, and New Mexico. The biggest wins for Democrats were in Kansas and Wisconsin where Laura Kelly (D) defeated Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach (R) and Tom Evers (D) defeated two-term incumbent Scott Walker (R).
Republicans held on to competitive seats in Florida, Oklahoma, and Ohio. Finally, Republicans took control of the governorship in Alaska after independent incumbent Bill Walker dropped out of the race and Mike Dunleavy (R) defeated former U.S. Senator Mark Begich (D).