Elections & Campaigns
Two Weeks Out: The Latest 2020 State Elections Projections and Analysis
October 22, 2020 | Bill Kramer
What will the 2020 election bring for legislative supermajorities? Several states could gain a supermajority and some could lose a supermajority, which has a significant impact on how business is done in a state legislature.
Last Updated October 22, 2020Download Overview
When a political party holds a supermajority of seats in a state legislature, that supermajority has the power to override gubernatorial vetoes as well as approve special measures (e.g., sending constitutional amendments to the voters) that require passage beyond a simple majority. Currently, of the 99 state legislative chambers, Republicans hold supermajorities in 30 chambers and Democrats hold supermajorities in 20 chambers. The remaining 49 chambers have one political party with a simple majority that cannot override the governor's veto of its legislation.
Supermajorities are particularly important when the sitting governor is of the opposite political party than the supermajority because it can effectively neutralize the governor’s veto power over the legislative branch. More likely, a supermajority and sitting governor may be of the same political party, but a legislature with veto override powers can push a governor of the same party to more extreme political stances than that governor might have taken on their own.
The 2020 state elections could see parties lose supermajorities in some state legislatures and parties gain supermajorities in others.
Democrats have an edge in picking up new supermajorities in both the New York Senate and New Mexico House, as each chamber has moved from a “Toss-Up” rating to “Tilt Democratic Gain.”
Notably, according to projections produced by election forecasters CNalysis, it's a "Toss Up" whether Republicans will retain or lose their supermajorities in the Arkansas House and both the House and Senate in Kansas, while Democrats could lose supermajorities in the Nevada House (Tilt Democratic Keep) and the Oregon House (Lean Democratic Keep) and Senate (Tilt Democratic Lose). On the other hand, Democrats are favored to gain a supermajority in the Delaware Senate (Likely Democratic Gain), New Mexico House (Tilt Democratic Gain), and New York Senate (Tilt Democratic Gain), while Republicans are largely playing defense on their 30 state legislative chamber supermajorities (with no significant supermajority gain opportunities).
Democrats have a good chance at taking over control of a handful of state legislative chambers on November 3. Similarly, Democrats can chip away at recent Republican dominance in state legislatures by gaining enough seats to deny Republicans supermajority control or gain supermajority control themselves in several states. If Democrats are able to secure supermajorities in the Delaware Senate, New Mexico House, and New York Senate, while Republicans retain their current supermajority level, Democrats will inch closer to Republican’s 30 supermajority chambers with 23 of their own. Republicans are also poised to deny Democrats their supermajority in the Oregon Senate, which would diminish any Democratic gains in supermajorities in 2020.
For even more election coverage, visit MultiState's 2020 State Elections Landing Page, your source for up-to-date and accurate election results and analysis. Bookmark our page for updated maps on partisan breakdown of state governors and legislatures pre- and post-election, plus analysis on the races and key ballot measures from our MultiState Insider blog.