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Key Takeaways

  • A significant number of state legislative seats — almost 80 percent — are up for election in 2020 (5,877 out of 7,383 total seats).
  • At present, the same party controls both chambers of the legislature in every state except two: Minnesota and Alaska. Minnesota currently has a Democratic Senate and Republican House, and Alaska has a Republican Senate with the House controlled by a coalition of Democrats and centrist Republicans.
  • Nine legislative chambers controlled by a Republican majority have the potential to flip to Democratic control as a result of the election. The most likely are the Republican-controlled Minnesota Senate, Iowa House, and both the Senate and House in Arizona.
  • 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. 

Currently, across the 99 state legislative chambers, there are 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. The same party controls both chambers of the legislature in every state except Minnesota (Democratic Senate and Republican House) and Alaska (Republican Senate and the House is controlled by a coalition of Democrats and centrist Republicans). In total, Republicans control 59 state legislative chambers, Democrats control 39 legislative chambers, and a coalition controls the Alaska House. 

But how might this all shift after the 2020 elections? There are 5,877 (out of 7,383) state legislative seats up for election on November 3. Using the projections produced by election forecasters CNalysis, there are nine state legislative chambers currently held by Republicans that have the potential to flip to Democrats next year. The most likely are the Republican-controlled Minnesota Senate, Iowa House, and both the Senate and House in Arizona, all of which CNalysis rates as “Tilt Democratic.” Furthermore, the Republican-controlled Michigan House is rated as a “Toss-Up.” Finally, the Pennsylvania House, Texas House, and North Carolina Senate are all rated as “Lean Republican” and the North Carolina House as “Tilt Republican,”, so there is a smaller chance these chambers flip to Democratic control in 2021. On the other hand, Republicans can pick up the Alaska House, which is currently controlled by a coalition of Democrats and moderate Republicans, which is rated "Tilt Republican."

While the chances of Democrats flipping governors’ seats in 2020 are slim, the party has real opportunities to take control of a handful of state legislative chambers from Republicans on November 3.  If Democrats can pick up the four chambers rated Lean Democratic" and the Toss-Up" in Michigan, they'd net five new chambers. Even with a loss in the Alaska House, this would put the nationwide tally at Democrats controlling 44 (+5) chambers nationwide and Republicans controlling 55 (-4). And if Democrats are able to put the additional four Lean Republican" and Tilt Republican" chambers in play, Democrats would make major progress in leveling the largely lopsided partisan divide in state legislatures.

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 pre- and post-election, plus analysis on the races and key ballot measures from our MultiState Insider blog.