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Key Takeaways

  • A significant number of state legislative seats — almost 80 percent — were up for election in 2020 (5,877 out of 7,383 total seats).
  • There is plenty of good news for Republicans. The GOP flipped control of both the House and Senate in New Hampshire from Democrats and have the numbers to break up the current coalition in the Alaska House, giving control of the chamber to Republicans in 2021.
  • Democrats failed to flip all nine of the state legislative chambers they had targeted. Democrats did not take advantage of opportunities to gain control of the Minnesota Senate, Arizona House and Senate, Iowa House, Michigan House, Pennsylvania House, Texas House, and both the House and Senate in North Carolina.
  • Republicans net three legislative chambers in a year they expected to largely play defense, which will increase the Republican lead of 62 state legislative chambers nationwide to Democrats’ 37 chambers in 2021.
  • Scroll down for additional analysis or click here to view our page on legislative supermajorities

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More Analysis

Republicans have dominated control of state legislatures over the past decade, but Democrats have slowly regained ground over the past couple of election cycles. 

Pre-election, across the 99 state legislative chambers, there were 3,849 Republicans, 3,455 Democrats, 34 Independents, and 45 vacant seats. The chambers themselves (each state has an upper and lower chamber, except unicameral Nebraska) are in unique political alignment in each state. Pre-election, the same party controlled both chambers of the legislature in every state except two: Minnesota and Alaska. 

Pre-election, nine legislative chambers controlled by a Republican majority had the potential to flip to Democratic control as a result of the election. The most likely were the Republican-controlled Minnesota Senate, Iowa House, Michigan House, and both the Senate and House in Arizona. But that's not how things turned out on November 3. Democrats failed to flip all nine of the state legislative chambers they had targeted. Democrats did not take advantage of opportunities to gain control of the Minnesota Senate, Arizona House and Senate, Iowa House, Michigan House, Pennsylvania House, Texas House, and both the House and Senate in North Carolina.

There is plenty of good news for Republicans. The GOP flipped control of both the House and Senate in New Hampshire from Democrats and have the numbers to break up the current coalition in the Alaska House, giving control of the chamber to Republicans in 2021.

Republicans net three legislative chambers in a year they expected to largely play defense, which will increase the Republican lead of 62 state legislative chambers nationwide to Democrats’ 37 chambers in 2021.

Want More Election Coverage?

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.