2010 State Legislatures: State By State

Louis Jacobson looks ahead to see which parties are likely to control the state legislatures after this year's elections.
by | July 7, 2010
 

The race to control the nation's legislatures may be overshadowed during this year's midterm elections by congressional and gubernatorial contests, but the battle is poised to be pivotal nonetheless. To read more about the 2010 state legislative picture, click here.

Here is a look ahead to see which parties are likely to control the state legislatures after this year's elections. Here's how the states break down:

Note: Expanded coverage, including interactive maps, ratings and analysis for all state legislative races, is available here.

Alabama

State Senate »

20 Democrats 15 Republicans Tossup Rating
State House »

60 Democrats 45 Republicans Tossup Rating

In this Deep South state, the GOP reigns supreme in national contests, and the ancestrally Democratic legislature is under greater pressure than ever in 2010. Both chambers have been in Democratic hands for more than a century but are vulnerable to a party switch this year. A number of Democratic retirements in both the House and Senate will aid the GOP's chances, as will ongoing fallout from corruption investigations. Even if the GOP doesn't get enough seats on Election Day, they might have enough momentum to convince a few conservative Democrats to switch parties, allowing them to shift control -- as long as they're not scared off by party-switching U.S. Rep. Parker Griffith's recent GOP primary loss.

Alaska

State Senate »

10 Democrats 10 Republicans Tossup Rating
State House »

18 Democrats 22 Republicans Lean R Rating

In recent years, the Alaska legislature has been fractured in unusual ways, with party label not always determining who exercises majority power in a chamber. Though the state is reliably Republican in national races, the legislative races in Alaska are more driven by local issues and personal factors. With narrow margins in both chambers and malleable party ties, both the House and Senate are in play (tossup for the Senate and lean Republican for the House) but with an expectation that both assessments could jump around a bit before Election Day.

Colorado

State Senate »

21 Democrats 14 Republicans Lean D Rating
State House »

37 Democrats 27 Republicans Lean D Rating

Once the shining example of Democratic gains in the West, Colorado is poised to slip away from the Democrats. Gov. Bill Ritter is leaving after just one term; the party must get through both a competitive primary and a competitive general election in order to hold a shaky U.S. Senate seat; and both chambers of the legislature are in play. For now, the Democrats have a slight edge, thanks to the fact that Republicans will have to oust incumbents who have worked their districts hard. But the national climate, combined with the fact that the Democrats have unified control of state government, makes this a prime pickup opportunity for the GOP.

Delaware

State Senate »

15 Democrats 6 Republicans Safe D Rating
State House »

24 Democrats 17 Republicans Lean D Rating

The Delaware Senate should remain in Democratic hands, as it has been for years. The Delaware House -- a Democratic pickup two years ago, ending a long GOP reign -- is up for grabs. The likelihood that popular GOP Rep. Mike Castle will win an open Senate seat should help Republicans down-ballot, but Democrats aren't sitting still -- they're playing offense against GOP incumbents in a number of downstate seats. Ultimately, shoe-leather campaigning makes a big difference in a small state like Delaware. For now, the House leans Democratic, but it could shift to tossup before Election Day.

Indiana

State Senate »

17 Democrats 33 Republicans Safe R Rating
State House »

52 Democrats 48 Republicans Lean R Rating

The GOP should easily hold on to the state Senate and make a serious play for the always-close state House, which is currently controlled -- narrowly -- by the Democrats. An aggressive GOP push, backed by popular Republican Gov. Mitch Daniels, has House Democrats on the defensive, suggesting a Republican turnover even at this early point in the campaign year.

Iowa

State Senate »

32 Democrats 18 Republicans Lean D Rating
State House »

56 Democrats 44 Republicans Tossup Rating

Iowa, the state that arguably catapulted Barack Obama to the presidency, isn't as warm toward the Democrats as it was two years ago. Democratic Gov. Chet Culver is in a deep hole against GOP gubernatorial nominee Terry Branstad, a former governor, and Culver's travails have boosted GOP hopes of winning back one or both of the state's legislative chambers. The state House is a tossup and the state Senate leans Democratic, but these ratings could bounce around in the coming months.

Maine

State Senate »

20 Democrats 15 Republicans Lean D Rating
State House »

95 Democrats 55 Republicans Safe D Rating

The nearly 2-to-1 Democratic margin in the state House should hold even in a tough midterm cycle for the party. But the state Senate, which is much closer and which has often been competitive in past cycles, is in play once again. Maine's celebrated independent streak and its public-financing law could meld with anti-incumbent sentiments to produce a volatile fight for control. It rates leans Democratic for now, but that could change.

Michigan

State Senate »

16 Democrats 22 Republicans Likely R Rating
State House »

66 Democrats 43 Republicans Lean D Rating

The environment in Michigan couldn't be worse for the Democrats, with crushing economic hardship and two terms of Democratic gubernatorial control. The Democrats are poised to lose the open-seat governorship, and while their chances of holding the state House are stronger, they could lose control of that chamber too. The Senate should easily stay in Republican hands, maybe even adding a few seats to the GOP column.

Minnesota

State Senate »

46 Democrats 21 Republicans Likely D Rating
State House »

87 Democrats 47 Republicans Lean D Rating

The Democrats are still favored to hold both chambers in Minnesota, but amid much angst over the state's fiscal situation, a shift of control -- especially in the House -- isn't out of the question. A determining factor could be how much blame voters place on the Democrats as opposed to outgoing Republican Gov. Tim Pawlenty.

Montana

State Senate »

23 Democrats 27 Republicans Lean R Rating
State House »

50 Democrats 50 Republicans Tossup Rating

Both chambers in Big Sky country have been narrowly divided in recent years, and the outlook is for close margins once again. The GOP is favored to maintain its narrow edge in the state Senate, while the tied House is once again anybody's guess. More Republican House seats than Democratic seats are in swing districts, but to take over, the Democrats would also have to hold the seats they have, and that's no foregone conclusion in this political environment. An unresolved question is how hard Democratic Gov. Brian Schweitzer campaigns for his fellow Democrats in the legislature.

Nevada

State Senate »

12 Democrats 9 Republicans Lean D Rating
State House »

28 Democrats 14 Republicans Likely D Rating

Nevada's a hot political state this year, with hard-fought contests for governor and U.S. Senate. After going for Obama in 2008, the pendulum has swung toward the GOP in 2010, but it's unclear whether that shift will be enough to change control of the legislature. With a 2-to-1 Democratic margin, the Assembly looks fairly solid for the Democrats, though the GOP could gain a seat or more, which would end the Democrats' veto-override majority. Meanwhile in the Senate, the Republicans could take over with a net gain of just three seats, but the seat-by-seat math suggests that those GOP gains are not a foregone conclusion, even in this political environment. For now, give the Democratic majority a slight edge in the state Senate, but that's subject to change.

New Hampshire

State Senate »

14 Democrats 10 Republicans Tossup Rating
State House »

222 Democrats 176 Republicans Tossup Rating

The Granite State, the last in the northeast to lose its Republican sheen during the past decade, looks more promising for the GOP in 2010, amid fatigue with unified Democratic control and a budget mess. Both chambers of the legislature are tossups, both the narrowly divided Senate and the enormous state House, where Democrats demonstrated in 2006 that a party can flip many seats in a single election. In the House, the Republicans will also likely benefit from the way party slates are put together.

New York State

State Senate »

32 Democrats 30 Republicans Tossup Rating
State House »

107 Democrats 43 Republicans Safe D Rating

In most places, the majority party controlling a state Senate that became a national laughingstock would be on its way out. But despite a cycle of party switches, lockouts, fiscal problems, a dysfunctional relationship with the governor and an excess of scandal-tarred figures, the slim Democratic majority is getting away with a designation of tossup, thanks to the state's general Democratic lean, a strong candidate for governor (Andrew Cuomo) and missed Republican opportunities. The Democratic-dominated Assembly will remain safely Democratic.

North Carolina

State Senate »

30 Democrats 20 Republicans Lean D Rating
State House »

68 Democrats 52 Republicans Lean D Rating

In this purple-to-red Southern state where the Democrats control the governorship and both chambers of the legislature, Democrats are arguably overrepresented in state government. So Republicans can expect gains in 2010, especially in the state Senate, where Democratic turnover is high. Both chambers lean Democratic, with the Senate more likely to flip, but these ratings could well shift in the GOP's direction by fall.

Ohio

State Senate »

12 Democrats 21 Republicans Safe R Rating
State House »

53 Democrats 46 Republicans Tossup Rating

Recession-battered Ohio is another state with big, competitive contests this year -- Democratic Gov. Ted Strickland is seeking a second term, and the parties are battling over an open U.S. Senate seat. The state Senate is safely in GOP hands, but the victor of the battle for the state House -- which the Democrats seized just two years ago by a narrow margin -- is anybody's guess. In contrast to Democratic gubernatorial candidates elsewhere, Strickland has managed to remain competitve in the polls, but it's an open question whether he'll have enough coattails to keep the House in Democratic hands. For now, call the House a tossup.

Pennsylvania

State Senate »

20 Democrats 30 Republicans Safe R Rating
State House »

103 Democrats 97 Republicans Tossup Rating

The state Senate is solidly Republican, but the Democratic majority in the state House is as fragile as they get. Republican Tom Corbett leads Democrat Dan Onorato in all polls, conforming to an eight-years-and-out pattern for party control of the governorship that has prevailed since World War II. Add in the lingering effects of the "Bonusgate" scandal (which hit Democrats harder) and the impending exit of Democratic Gov. Ed Rendell from the stage (which removes a big Democratic asset in southeastern Pennsylvania) and all signs point to a severely stressed Democratic hold on the House. Rate the chamber a tossup for now, but that could easily switch to lean Republican by our next rating.

Tennessee

State Senate »

14 Democrats 19 Republicans Lean R Rating
State House »

48 Democrats 50 Republicans Lean R Rating

The Republicans are favored in both the Tennessee Senate, which they control outright, and the messy Tennessee House, where an independent, formerly Republican speaker was elected with Democratic support. The Democrats have been fading in Tennessee, and the end of Democratic Gov. Phil Bredesen's two terms this year should only accelerate that trend. While Democrats aren't writing off either chamber yet, the GOP is poised to gain slightly in both.

Wisconsin

State Senate »

18 Democrats 15 Republicans Tossup Rating
State House »

52 Democrats 46 Republicans Tossup Rating

The Democrats control both chambers of the legislature as well as the governorship -- a bad position to be in for 2010, especially for a state located in the swing industrial Midwest. Observers say there's a good chance that at least one chamber will flip to the GOP, with the Assembly being the early favorite to shift. For no, call both tossups.

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