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Four state legislatures flip —Democrats pick up trifectas in mid-term elections

November 10, 2022
By: Laura Lacy Graham

Going into Tuesday’s 2022 mid-term elections, less electoral shakeup in state legislatures was expected after states’ redistricting efforts shored up many safe seats for incumbents — with the one notable exception being Michigan, thanks to an independent commission that had drawn a competitive map that put both legislative chambers in play. The results detailed below reveal the new, and some still-standing, makeup of statehouse leadership changes as the result of Tuesday’s election.

At the start of the mid-terms, there were 37 state government trifectas (when one political party holds the governorship and majorities in both chambers of the state legislature) — with Republicans holding 23, Democrats holding 14, and 13 states with divided government (when one political party controls the governorship and the opposing party holds one or both chambers of the state legislature). As of Wednesday, Nov. 9, and if election results hold, 2023 will have 41 state government trifectas ­— more than at any time in the last 30 years.

 In seven states, Democrats were projected to have a chance (however slight) at winning a trifecta (Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Michigan, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin), while Republicans were looking at the possibility of picking up two (Alaska and Kansas).

With the re-election of Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly, the Republicans lost one of the two possible pick-ups, and the results in Alaska will remain uncertain until later in the month. Meanwhile, Democrats were able to pick up four – all of which were previously divided state governments: Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, and Minnesota were flipped to trifectas ­— with two (Maryland and Massachusetts) as a result of the change in governor, and the other two (Michigan and Minnesota) as a result of changes in legislators elected to their respective state houses.

Given the redistricting changes in Michigan, Democrats were able to secure new majorities in both chambers for the first time since 1983. But in the case of Minnesota, the flip is somewhat of a surprise. The state had a rare split in the legislature for many years, with Democrats holding a majority in the House and Republicans maintaining a majority in the state Senate; however, it appears that the DFL (Democratic-Farmers-Labor Party) has secured enough seats to also take control of the Senate for the first time since 2014. While Republicans still hold the most trifectas at 23, Democrats increase their hold to 18, and 9 states are expected to have a divided government after Tuesday’s elections.

Additionally, heading into the election, 24 states had one party that controlled a veto-proof legislative majority (Republicans with 16 states and the Democrats with 8). Following the mid-terms, Democrats have won a new supermajority in both chambers of the Vermont Legislature, but remains a divided state with the re-election of Republican Gov. Phil Scott. Republicans appear to have secured new supermajorities in both chambers of the Florida Legislature and the South Carolina House, although the South Carolina Senate failed to secure a supermajority in Tuesday’s elections. However, these supermajority gains have a less direct effect on policy since both states have Republican governors and are GOP trifectas. 

The North Carolina GOP had the best and most consequential supermajority pickup opportunity this cycle but fell short. While it appears that Republicans gained the necessary two seats to gain a veto-proof supermajority in the state senate, the GOP is on track to only gain two of the three seats needed to complete a supermajority in the House.

Similarly, Republicans also fell short of gaining a supermajority in Wisconsin, their second-best supermajority pickup opportunity in a state with a Democratic governor. While GOP lawmakers appear to have secured the necessary seat to gain a supermajority in the state Senate, they picked up only three of the five seats needed for a veto-proof majority in the House that would have been able to override Gov. Tony Evers’ vetoes

Finally, in Pennsylvania, Republicans appear to be in danger of losing their majority control in the Pennsylvania House, while voters returned a solid Republican majority to the state Senate on Tuesday, re-electing all Republican incumbents and sending five new Republican senators to Harrisburg; and it also appears that Oregon Republicans will eliminate the three-fifths supermajority in the state Senate, and likely to do the same in the House.

elections, states