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Party power on the line in many state legislative elections

September 22, 2018

A total of 6,066 state legislative seats will be on general election ballots around the country this year, and nearly two dozen more will be decided in November special elections to fill vacancies.

Here’s a look at the current partisan composition of state House and Senate chambers, as well as some of the most closely contested battles between Democrats and Republicans hoping to defend or expand their legislative majorities. Nebraska is not included in these tallies because it has only one legislative chamber, which is officially nonpartisan.

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HOUSE/ASSEMBLY CONTROL

Democrats: 18 states

Republicans: 31 states

Note: The Alaska House has more Republican members but is controlled by a Democratic-led coalition.

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SENATE CONTROL

Democrats: 14 states

Republicans: 35 states

Note: The Connecticut Senate has a partisan tie, but a Democratic lieutenant governor can cast tie-breaking votes and thus tip control to Democrats. The New York Senate has more Democrats than Republicans but has been controlled by a Republican-led coalition.

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CONTROLLING BOTH CHAMBERS

Democrats: 14

Republicans: 30

Split: 5

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TRIFECTA

Democrats: 8

Republicans: 25

Split: 16

Note: Trifecta control means one party controls both legislative chambers as well as the governor’s office. Split control means a different party controls at least one of those institutions.

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TOP ELECTION BATTLES

— Alaska House: Republicans are looking to take back what seemed to already be theirs. The GOP won more seats in the 2016 election, but Democrats have control due to a coalition that includes two independent representatives and several breakaway Republicans.

— Arizona Senate: Republicans hold a 17-13 majority in a chamber that Democrats are trying to flip.

— Colorado Senate: Republicans hold an 18-16 majority with one independent in a chamber that’s had close margins for several elections.

— Connecticut Senate: An 18-18 partisan tie makes each race potentially pivotal for chamber control.

— Delaware Senate: Democrats hold a slim 11-10 majority, although the state has traditionally leaned their way.

— Florida Senate: Democrats would need to gain five seats to win control of this 40-member chamber. It’s on their target list but could be a stretch.

— Maine Legislature: Both chambers are in play. Republicans are up 18-17 in the Senate while Democrats hold a relatively slim House majority.

— Minnesota Senate: Republicans run the chamber, but it’s currently split 33-33. Control will be at stake in a special election to fill a vacancy for a previously Republican-held seat.

— New Hampshire Legislature: Republicans hold a 14-10 Senate majority. Their lead is larger in the House, but with 400 members, the chamber is known for large electoral swings.

— Nevada Senate: Democrats narrowly flipped control of this chamber in 2016 and now hold a 10-8 majority over Republicans with one independent senator and two vacancies. Republicans are looking to flip it back.

— New York Senate: Although Democrats have more lawmakers, Republicans lead the chamber because of an alliance with a breakaway Democrat. The Democrats hope to win outright control.

— Washington Legislature: Democrats have tight majorities in both chambers, 26-23 in the Senate and 50-48 in the House.

— Wisconsin Senate: Democrats gained two seats in special elections earlier this year to cut the Republican majority to 18-15. That’s raised Democratic hopes of flipping control.

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