Partisan control of 20 state executive offices changed in the 2020 elections

Image of donkey and elephant to symbolize the Democratic and Republican parties.

Partisan control of 20 state executive offices changed in the 2020 elections. Republicans gained a net three state executive offices and Democrats lost a net two.

Eleven offices flipped from Democratic to Republican control, while eight offices flipped from Republican to Democratic control, and one office flipped from third party to Democratic control.

The table below shows the direction and totals of these flips.

The 20 offices that changed control were spread across 15 states. There was a net gain for Democrats in eight of those states and a net gain for Republicans in seven. The state with the most Democratic gains was Kansas, where two positions on the state board of education flipped from Republican to Democratic control. The state with the most Republican gains was Michigan, where three members of the state university boards of regents flipped from Democrats to Republicans.

The map below shows states where party flips occurred in 2020. States shaded dark gray saw no change in the party control of the state executive offices up for election in 2020. In the case of Utah, the state began holding partisan elections for offices that were previously nonpartisan. Those elections were excluded from this analysis.

There were four states where partisan control of a top-ballot executive office or an executive board changed as a result of the 2020 elections.

In Montana, Republicans won control of the governorship. U.S. Rep. Greg Gianforte (R) defeated Lt. Gov. Mike Cooney (D) for the open office. Incumbent Steve Bullock (D) was term-limited. Republicans maintained their majorities in both chambers of the state legislature, so Gianforte’s win created a Republican trifecta in the state.

In Oregon, Democrats won control of the secretary of state’s office. State Sen. Shemia Fagan (D) defeated state Sen. Kim Thatcher (R) in the November election. Incumbent Bev Clarno (R) did not seek re-election. Because the governor and attorney general were already Democrats, Fagan’s win gave Democrats a triplex in the state.

In Colorado and New Hampshire, control of two state boards changed as a result of the 2020 elections. In Colorado, one position on the state’s board of regents flipped to Democrats, giving the party a 5-4 majority. In New Hampshire, two positions on the Executive Council flipped to Republicans, changing the board’s partisan balance from a 3-2 Democratic majority to a 4-1 Republican majority.

To learn more about state executive office party flips, click here.