Ballotpedia’s Daily Brew: Republicans gain in state legislative districts that intersect with Pivot Counties

Welcome to the Wednesday, Nov. 18, Brew. Here’s what’s in store for you as you start your day:

  1. Republicans to gain at least 30 state legislative seats in districts that intersect with Pivot Counties
  2. Alaska voters approve ranked-choice voting measure
  3. Rep. Cedric Richmond named member of Biden’s senior staff, will resign from Congress

Republicans to gain at least 30 state legislative seats in districts that intersect with Pivot Counties

Today we look at legislative races in the nation’s 206 Pivot Counties. Pivot Counties are the 206 counties that Ballotpedia identified as voting for Barack Obama (D) in 2008 and 2012 and Donald Trump (R) in 2016. There are 705 legislative districts—in whole or in part—in these counties. 

Republicans will have at least 30 more state legislators representing these districts, and Democrats will have at least 22 fewer.

Because some of the districts are multi-member districts, there are 800 legislators in the 705 districts. As of Nov. 16, Republicans will control 473 seats, a gain of at least 30 relative to immediately after the 2018 elections and Democrats stand to control 266. Final control of 58 seats remains too close to call, and three seats will be held by third party or independent legislators. Even if Democrats win all 58 uncalled races, they would still lose a net 22 seats relative to their post-2018 totals. After the 2018 election, Republicans held 443 of these seats to Democrats’ 346.

The table and chart below show the partisan control of all state legislative seats intersecting with Pivot Counties through Nov. 16.

The 800 state legislators who represent districts containing all or part of a Pivot County include 231 state senators (11.9% of all state senators) and 569 state representatives (10.5% of all state representatives). The number of these state legislators increased from 2016 to 2020 due to mid-cycle redistricting in North Carolina.

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Alaska voters approve ranked-choice voting measure 

Yesterday, Ballotpedia called Alaska Ballot Measure 2, with election results at that time showing the measure passing 50.5% to 49.5%. 

Ballot Measure 2 makes several changes to Alaska’s election policies, including:

  • replacing partisan primaries with open top-four primaries for state executive, state legislative, and congressional offices, 
  • establishing ranked-choice voting for general elections, including the presidential election, and
  • requiring persons and entities who contribute more than $2,000 that was derived from donations, contributions, dues, or gifts to disclose the sources of the contributions.

Alaska will become the first state to adopt top-four primaries for state executive, state legislative, and congressional offices. Like the top-two systems in California and Washington, all candidates will run in a single primary election, regardless of a candidate’s party affiliation. The four candidates receiving the most votes will advance to the general election.

In the general election, voters will elect state and federal candidates using ranked-choice voting (RCV). For state executive, state legislative, and congressional elections, voters will rank the four candidates who advanced from their top-four primaries. If a candidate receives a majority of first-choice votes, he or she will be declared the winner. If no candidate wins a majority, the candidate with the fewest votes would be eliminated, and voters who selected that candidate as their first choice would have their votes redistributed to their second choice. The process continues until two candidates remain. The candidate with the largest number of votes in the final round is the winner.

Alaska becomes the second state to approve ranked-choice voting statewide after Maine approved it in 2016. Eight states contain jurisdictions that have implemented RCV at some level, and another five states contain jurisdictions that have adopted but not yet implemented RCV in local elections.

Ballot Measure 2’s system of top-four primaries and ranked-choice voting general elections will be first used in 2022, which includes the gubernatorial, U.S. House, and a U.S. Senate election in Alaska. 

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Rep. Cedric Richmond named member of Biden’s senior staff, will resign from Congress

President-Elect Joe Biden’s transition team announced Nov. 17 that U.S. Rep. Cedric Richmond (D-La.) would become Senior Adviser to the President and Director of the White House Office of Public Engagement. When the appointment takes effect, Richmond will resign from his district in the House of Representatives.

Richmond was first elected to the House in 2010 and was re-elected Nov. 3, receiving 64% of the vote in Louisiana’s majority-vote system. Richmond chaired the Congressional Black Caucus from November 2016 to December 2018. Before joining Congress, Richmond was a member of the Louisiana House of Representatives from 2000 to 2011.

Vacancies in the House of Representatives are filled by special election, and Richmond’s resignation will trigger the first special election of the 117th Congress. Richmond did not say when his resignation would become official. Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards (D) said, “I will consult with Congressman Richmond about the timing of his resignation from Congress and with the Secretary of State and other leaders in his district about the best time for a special election to fill his seat when it is vacant.” Although the special election can be set on any date, Louisiana holds municipal primary elections on March 22, 2021, and municipal general elections on April 24, 2021.

The final partisan composition of the House of Representatives after the Nov. 3 elections has not been determined. A consensus of five media outlets have called enough races to confirm that Democrats will retain their majority.

In 2017, four U.S. House members—Mick Mulvaney (R-S.C.), Mike Pompeo (R-Kan.), Tom Price (R-Ga.), and Ryan Zinke (R-Mont.)—resigned to take positions in President Trump’s administration. In 2009, four U.S. House members—Rahm Emanuel (D-Ill.), John McHugh (R-N.Y.), Hilda Solis (D-Calif.), and Ellen Tauscher (D-Calif.)—resigned to take positions in President Barack Obama’s (D) administration. The party of the outgoing representative won seven of the eight special elections triggered by those resignations. Bill Owens (D-N.Y.) won a special election in November 2009 for McHugh’s seat.

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About the author

Dave Beaudoin

Dave Beaudoin is a project director at Ballotpedia. Contact us at editor@ballotpedia.org.

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