Democratic State Legislatures Ride Obama's Coattails
Both parties have chalked up wins at the state legislative level, but the Democrats could have a modest advantage.
Democrats got some good news downballot on Election Night: They may have rolled back GOP control in state legislative chambers -- at least modestly.
The GOP is poised to flip four chambers while the Democrats may be able to flip eight. Here is a breakdown of expected and possible shifts in partisan controls, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL). With each chamber, we've listed for your reference Governing's final pre-election rating to the right:
Shifted from Democratic to Republican
Arkansas Senate -- lean Republican
Arkansas House (likely) -- lean Republican
Wisconsin Senate -- lean Republican
Shifted from a Tie to Republican Control
Alaska Senate -- lean Republican
Shifted from Republican to Democratic
Colorado House -- lean Democratic
Maine Senate (likely) -- lean Republican
Maine House (likely) -- lean Democratic
Minnesota Senate (likely) -- tossup
Minnesota House (likely) -- tossup
New Hampshire House -- lean Republican
New York Senate (possible) -- tossup
Shifted from a Tie to Democratic
Oregon House -- lean Democratic
If these chambers do switch as noted, and if no other chambers flip control, then the Democrats will have gained a net four chambers, which was in line with our final forecast -- "a slight strengthening of the GOP's strong lead in chambers or a small rollback by the Democrats." Among the chambers that have flipped so far, the only surprises were the New Hampshire House and the Maine Senate, which we rated as competitive but leaning toward the GOP rather than the Democrats.
NCSL's Tim Storey said the number of partisan shifts is in line with a typical election year -- about a dozen flipping one way or another.
According to NCSL's The Thicket blog: "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."
Among states that didn't switch, the Democrats gained the most seats in New Hampshire, where they have gained at least 80 legislative seats. The Democrats also made gains in the Iowa and Michigan Houses, but appear to have fallen short of winning majorities in those chambers.
Still to be decided is control of competitive chambers in Iowa, Nevada, New Hampshire and New Mexico. Switches in these states could drive up the number of flipped chambers.
"We may wind up with the lowest number of divided state legislatures in over 30 years," said NCSL. "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."