13 vulnerable trifectas in ’22

By: Douglas Kronaizl

Here’s what’s in store for you as you start your day:

  1. Here are the most vulnerable trifectas this year
  2. Ketanji Brown Jackson’s Supreme Court confirmation hearings to begin March 21
  3. Four Republican candidates running to challenge Rep. Marcy Kaptur in Ohio’s 9th Congressional District

13 vulnerable trifectas in ‘22

Thirteen state government trifectas are vulnerable this year, according to our annual trifecta vulnerability ratings. Democrats are defending seven and Republicans are defending six.

A state government trifecta exists when one party controls the governorship and both chambers of the legislature. There are currently 14 Democratic trifectas, 23 Republican trifectas, and 13 states with divided governments.

Ballotpedia calculates the likelihood of trifectas breaking and forming by evaluating each trifecta component—the governorship, state Senate, and House—individually and assessing the chances of them changing control. We base our gubernatorial evaluations on race ratings from The Cook Political Report, Inside Elections, and Larry Sabato’s Crystal Ball. We assess state legislative chambers according to the absolute number of seats up for election and the proportion of seats that would need to flip for partisan control to change.

While 35 states with trifectas are holding elections this year, the map below shows those 13 we identified as vulnerable heading into the 2022 elections.

The two most vulnerable Democratic trifectas are in Delaware and Washington. Neither state is holding gubernatorial elections this year but, in both, Democrats have an advantage of five seats or fewer in their respective state Senates.

Arizona is the only highly vulnerable Republican trifecta this year. Race forecasters have rated the gubernatorial election as a Toss-up, and Republicans have a one-seat majority in both the state House and Senate.

In addition to our trifecta vulnerability analysis, we also took a look at those 13 states with divided governments to see how likely it is that they might become trifectas following the elections this year.

For Democrats, we identified Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, and North Carolina as possible trifecta pickups. Our methodology also pointed to Alaska and Kansas as possible Republican trifecta pickups. In Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin, both parties have an opportunity to establish a state government trifecta.

In 2020, Republicans gained trifectas in Montana and New Hampshire, both of which had been divided governments. In 2021, Republicans in Virginia broke what had been a Democratic trifecta by winning the governorship and control of the House of Delegates. Between 2010 and 2021, 73 state government trifectas were broken or gained.

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Ketanji Brown Jackson’s Supreme Court confirmation hearings to begin March 21

The Senate Judiciary Committee will hold its first day of confirmation hearings for U.S. Supreme Court nominee Ketanji Brown Jackson on March 21.

These hearings typically involve a statement from the nominee, interviews with witnesses testifying for or against the nomination, and questions from Senators regarding the nominee’s experience, past judgments, and judicial philosophy.

After the hearings, the committee will vote on whether to advance Jackson’s nomination to a full Senate vote. The committee’s current membership consists of 11 Democrats and 11 Republicans. Under the power-sharing agreement drawn up at the beginning of this Congress, nominees can advance out of committee with a tie vote. If advanced, the full Senate may hold a confirmation vote before retiring Justice Stephen Breyer leaves office, with Jackson’s swearing-in date delayed until his departure.

The average length of a Supreme court vacancy since 1962, when measured from the retirement announcement to confirmation of a successor, is 132 days. The longest vacancy was between the terms of Antonin Scalia and Neil Gorsuch at 419 days, and the shortest was between the terms of Charles Evans Whittaker and Byron White at 13 days. Breyer officially announced his retirement 50 days ago on Jan. 27.

Jackson currently serves as a judge on the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. President Joe Biden (D) nominated her to that post in April 2021 and the Senate confirmed her with a 53-44 vote on June 14, 2021. Three Republicans—Sens. Susan Collins (R-Maine), Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), and Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska)—voted to confirm Jackson.

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Four Republican candidates running to challenge Rep. Marcy Kaptur in Ohio’s 9th Congressional District

Note: Ohio is undergoing congressional redistricting, meaning the exact boundaries of the 9th District are currently unknown. The state enacted new congressional maps last year which were later struck down by the state supreme court. On March 2, the Ohio Redistricting Commission approved new maps, which are now pending before the court.

Twelve states are holding statewide primaries in May and, today, we’re taking a look at another one of those battleground primaries, this time in Ohio on May 10.

Four candidates—Beth Deck, Theresa Gavarone, J.R. Majewski, and Craig Riedel—are running in the Republican primary election for Ohio’s 9th Congressional District. The winner of the primary will face incumbent Rep. Marcy Kaptur (D) in the general election. First elected in 1982, Kaptur is the longest-serving woman in U.S. House history.

Gavarone, Majewski, and Riedel have received the most media attention.

Gavarone is a member of the Ohio State Senate, first appointed in 2019 after having previously served in the state House since 2016. In a campaign ad, Gavarone highlighted her legislative experience, saying that she “turned conservative principles into action” and passed “balanced budgets, brought parents to the table to improve our schools, and defended our men and women in uniform.”

Majewski works in the nuclear industry in project management positions and served in the U.S. Air Force from 1999 to 2003. In a Candidate Connection survey submitted to Ballotpedia, Majewski described himself as “the America First Candidate” and said he would “Bring back good paying American jobs … Maintain a strong national defense and stop the endless wars.”

Riedel is a member of the Ohio House of Representatives, first elected in 2016. He said Kaptur had been in office for too long and said, “I am sick and tired of career politicians … who always make promises, fail to deliver, then pass the buck,” adding that he would “work with President Trump and … the Freedom Caucus to push an America-first agenda.”

Under the two congressional map proposals, the 9th District—which race forecasters rated as Solid Democratic in 2020—would be given a more Republican lean. According to FiveThirtyEight, the 9th District would have an R+6 lean under the proposal currently before the supreme court.

This possibility led the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee to list Kaptur as a Frontline candidate, a distinction used to identify and support vulnerable Democratic incumbents.

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