Elections & Campaigns
Post-Election Analysis: Democratic Hopes Dashed after Strong Showing by Republicans in State Races
November 4, 2020 | Bill Kramer, Lauren Doroghazi
Post-election, both Republicans and Democrats added a single legislative chamber to their veto-proof majorities nationwide. However, Republicans still hold a commanding advantage in legislative chambers with veto-proof majorities in 34 states (+1) with Democrats holding veto-proof majorities in 18 (+1) legislative chambers.
Last Updated December 1, 2020Download Slide Deck
When a political party holds a veto-proof majority of seats in a state legislature, that "supermajority" has the power to override gubernatorial vetoes. Pre-election, of the 99 state legislative chambers, Republicans held supermajorities in 33 chambers and Democrats held supermajorities in 17 chambers. The remaining 49 chambers had one political party with a simple majority that cannot override the governor's veto of its legislation.
Veto-proof majorities are particularly important when the sitting governor is of the opposite political party than the legislative majority because it can effectively neutralize the governor’s veto power over the legislative branch. More likely, a veto-proof majority 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.
Democrats gained new veto-proof majorities in the Delaware Senate, Connecticut Senate, and New York Senate. There were also high hopes in Democratic circles of breaking up a number of Republican veto-proof majorities in state legislative chambers. However, Republicans were able to hold on to their veto-proof majorities in the Arkansas House and both the House and Senate in Kansas. Republicans retained all 33 of their current veto-proof majorities and gained an additional veto-proof majority in the Montana House.
Overall, both Republicans and Democrats added a single legislative chamber to their veto-proof majorities nationwide. However, Republicans still hold a commanding advantage in legislative chambers with veto-proof majorities in 34 states (+1) with Democrats holding veto-proof majorities in 18 (+1) legislative chambers. Once again, Democrats had high hopes for making progress in state legislative races but fell short in the 2020 elections. Republicans successfully played defense with their nationwide lead in veto-proof majorities and even added to it.
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 post-election, plus analysis on the races and key ballot measures from our MultiState Insider blog.