Potential trifecta changes in five states in 2019 elections

Five states are holding gubernatorial or state legislative elections this year: Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, New Jersey, and Virginia. All five states could see a change in trifecta status as a result.
 
A state government trifecta exists when one party controls a state’s governorship and holds majorities in both chambers of the state legislature. There are currently 22 Republican trifectas and 14 Democratic trifectas. Sixty-three trifectas have been broken or formed in the past 10 years.
 
As part of Ballotpedia’s ongoing coverage of state elections, we assess the vulnerability of each existing trifecta and the chances of new trifectas forming. None of the five states holding 2019 elections shifted in our ratings this month.
 
Kentucky has been under a Republican trifecta since the party gained a majority in the state House in the 2016 elections. This year, only the governorship is up for election, so Democrats cannot gain a trifecta in Kentucky. If Matt Bevin (R) is re-elected, Kentucky’s Republican trifecta will hold, and if he is defeated it will be broken.
 
Louisiana is under divided government, meaning that neither party has a trifecta, as a result of John Bel Edwards’ (D) victory in the 2015 gubernatorial election. Edwards is up for re-election this year along with all 144 state legislative seats. To gain a trifecta, Democrats would need to hold the governorship and gain majorities in both legislative chambers while Republicans would need to hold their legislative majorities and win the governorship.
 
Republicans have held a trifecta in Mississippi since winning control of the state House in 2011. This year, the governorship and all 174 state legislative seats are up for election. In order to hold their trifecta, Republicans would need to hold the governorship and majorities in both legislative chambers, while Democrats would only need to win the governorship or gain a majority in one chamber to break the Republican trifecta.
 
New Jersey has been a Democratic trifecta since Phil Murphy (D) won the 2017 gubernatorial election. This year, all 80 seats in the state Assembly are up for election. Because the governorship and the state Senate are not up for election, Republicans cannot gain a trifecta in New Jersey this year. To hold their trifecta, Democrats would need to hold their majority in the state Assembly while Republicans would need to gain a majority to break the Democratic trifecta.
 
Virginia has been under divided government since Mark Warner (D) won the 2001 gubernatorial election. This year, all 140 seats in the state legislature are up for election. Because the governorship is not up for election, Republicans cannot gain a trifecta in Virginia this year. In order to gain a trifecta, Democrats would need to flip both chambers, while Republicans would need to hold at least one chamber to prevent Democrats from gaining a trifecta. Democrats would need to flip two seats in each chamber to win control.
 



About the author

David Luchs

David Luchs is a staff writer at Ballotpedia and can be reached at david.luchs@ballotpedia.org

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