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. Today, there are 22 Republican trifectas and 14 Democratic trifectas. Sixty-three trifectas have been broken or formed in the past 10 years.
Here is the latest update on the possibility for trifecta status changes as a result of November 2019 statewide elections in Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, New Jersey, and Virginia.
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. Political racetrackers rate the gubernatorial election as leaning towards Democrats. In order for partisan control of the state Senate to change, 15% of seats up would need to flip, while 11% of seats up in the House would need to flip to change control of that chamber.
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. Political racetrackers say that the gubernatorial election leans towards Republicans. In order for partisan control of the state Senate to change, 14% of seats up would need to flip, while 12% of seats up in the House would need to flip to change control of that chamber.
New Jersey has been a Democratic trifecta since Gov. Phil Murphy (D) took office in 2018. New Jersey is holding elections for all 80 state Assembly seats in 2019. In order to preserve their trifecta, Democrats would need to maintain their majority in the state Assembly. In order to break the Democratic trifecta, Republicans would need to win a majority in the state Assembly. Because there are no gubernatorial or regularly scheduled state Senate elections in New Jersey in 2019, New Jersey’s trifecta status can only change as a result of the Assembly elections. In order for partisan control of the Assembly to change, 18% of seats up would need to flip.
Virginia has been under divided government since Gov. Mark Warner (D) took office in 2002. Gov. Ralph Northam is a Democrat while Republicans hold majorities in both chambers of the state legislature. Virginia is holding elections for all 40 state Senate seats and all 100 state House seats. Because the governorship is not up for election, Republicans cannot win a trifecta in 2019. In order to prevent Democrats from gaining a trifecta, Republicans must prevent them from gaining control of both chambers. In order to gain a trifecta, Democrats must win both. The Republican majority in both chambers is held by a two-seat margin; if Democrats gain a net of one seat in either chamber, that chamber will fall under a power-sharing agreement. Democrats would need to flip two or more seats in each chamber to gain a majority.