Ballotpedia Competitiveness Report: State legislative elections reach decade high

Welcome to the Thursday, September 2, Brew. Here’s what’s in store for you as you start your day:

  1. Major party competition in state legislative elections reaches decade high
  2. Federal Register nears 50,000 pages
  3. Redistricting Roundup: Illinois legislature enacts revised district boundaries, Ohio sets more public hearings

Major party competition in state legislative elections reaches decade high

Of the 220 state legislative seats up for election this year in New Jersey and Virginia, 93% will feature a Democrat and a Republican on the general election ballot this November. 

This is the highest percentage of state legislative seats being contested by both major parties at any point in the past decade. It is also the first election cycle since at least 2010 where more than 90% of state legislative seats up for election nationwide were contested by both major parties.

This increase in major party competition is largely driven by an increased level of competitiveness in the Virginia House of Delegates over the past decade. 

Looking back to 2011, less than half of the seats in the chamber were contested by both major parties. In 2017, the chamber began trending more competitive when Democrats contested 57% more seats than they had in 2015. Both Democrats and Republicans continued to increase their number of contested seats in 2019 and 2021.

In contrast, state legislative elections in New Jersey have featured higher levels of major party competition throughout the decade. Both major parties have contested at least 90% of seats in each state legislative election cycle from 2011 to 2021.

In the New Jersey General Assembly, no Republican has run unopposed since 2017. The highest number of uncontested seats in the chamber came in 2015 when eight seats, or 10%, were effectively guaranteed to one of the two major parties.

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Federal Register nears 50,000 pages

The Federal Register is a daily journal of federal government activity that includes presidential documents, proposed and final rules, and public notices. It is a common measure of an administration’s overall regulatory activity, accounting for both regulatory and deregulatory actions. We periodically update you about its status—here’s a recent report.

From Aug. 23 through Aug. 27, the Federal Register grew by 1,344 pages for a year-to-date total of 48,294 pages. By this point in President Donald Trump’s (R) first year as president, the year-to-date total was 40,666 pages.

Last week’s Federal Register additions featured the following 611 documents:

  • 495 notices
  • Two presidential documents
  • 52 proposed rules
  • 62 final rules

Ballotpedia has maintained page counts and other information about the Federal Register as part of its Administrative State Project since 2017. Click below to learn more about how the Federal Register has changed from the Trump administration to the Biden administration.

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Redistricting Roundup: Illinois legislature enacts revised district boundaries, Ohio sets more public hearings

The Illinois House and Senate approved new state legislative boundaries during a special session on Aug. 31. 

The maps, which passed 73-43 in the state House, and 40-17 in the state Senate, revised legislative redistricting plans enacted in June before the U.S. Census Bureau released block-level data from the 2020 census on Aug. 12. Illinois had been the second state to pass new legislative maps. 

For reference, following the 2010 census, Gov. Pat Quinn (D) signed redistricting legislation on June 3, 2011.

Two lawsuits challenging the 2021 maps were consolidated in a federal district court on July 14. The plaintiffs—the minority leaders of the Illinois House and Senate and the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund—argued that the redistricting plans did not ensure that the districts had substantially equal populations because they used data from the American Community Survey (ACS) instead of the 2020 census. The trial is set to begin on Sept. 27.

In Ohio, the state’s redistricting commission decided on Aug. 31 that it would hold three additional public hearings before approving proposed maps, as opposed to the single public hearing required by law. 

The commission did not approve new state legislative districts by its initial Sept. 1 deadline. The final deadline is Sept 15.

Rep. Bob Cupp (R), the co-chair of the commission, said the late release of census data caused the commission’s delay. He estimated maps would be formally proposed in 10-12 days. 

The Ohio Redistricting Commission is composed of five Republicans—including Gov. Mike DeWine (R)—and two Democrats.

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