How close races in 2020 might affect state legislative elections in 2022

Welcome to the Tuesday, August 30, Brew. 

By: Douglas Kronaizl

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

  1. How close races in 2020 might affect state legislative elections in 2022
  2. Explore Indiana’s elections
  3. A look at the recall in Johnstown, Ohio

How close races in 2020 might affect state legislative elections in 2022

This November, 88 of the 99 state legislative chambers will hold regularly-scheduled elections for 6,278 of the country’s 7,383 state legislative seats (85%). 

To better understand and prepare for what lies ahead, let’s take a look back at 2020. 

In 2020, the average margin of victory in state legislative elections was 27 percentage points, meaning most winning candidates won by a fairly large margin. For example, a candidate winning 63%-36% would have a margin of 27 percentage points. 

But for 928 seats, 16% of those up for election, the margins were less than 10 percentage points, making them some of the most competitive of the cycle. Democrats won 444 of those seats and Republicans won 484.

The graphic below shows major party margin of victory statistics from 2020, broken down by the size of the margin or whether the seat was unopposed.

What were these margin of victory stats like in some of the 2022 battleground state legislatures?

Here’s a list of a few battleground states where the “Need” column shows the net gain in seats each out-of-power party would need in order to break an existing state government trifecta.

When it comes to battleground state legislatures, we look at whether a majority is in jeopardy. But, equally important, is whether a party has the opportunity to create a veto-proof supermajority, especially in states where the governor is from a different party. 

Here’s a look at one of those states—North Carolina—where Democrats control the governorship and Republicans could potentially create a veto-proof supermajority.

Keep in mind, every state legislature redrew its district lines following the 2020 census, so districts that existed during the last cycle might not match up with districts on the ballot this year.

Still, the margins of these races in 2020, and the possibility of changing the balance of power in 2022, mean we will be keeping a close eye on the outcomes.

Use the link below to view our entire analysis and learn more about how the close races in 2020 might affect elections this November.

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Explore Indiana elections

Today is the second day of our 50 States in 50 Days series, and it’s bringing us to Indiana—the Hoosier State!

Week One: Pennsylvania

On the ballot in Indiana

At the federal level, voters will elect one U.S. Senator and nine U.S. Representatives. 

Rep. Trey Hollingsworth (R) is retiring, leaving the 9th District open. Voters in the 2nd District will decide two elections: one, a special election, to fill out the remaining months of the late Rep. Jackie Walorski’s (R) term, and another regularly-scheduled election to select a new representative for a full term.

At the state level, the offices of secretary of state, treasurer, auditor, and one seat on the state supreme court are up for election. 

Twenty-five out of 50 seats in the state Senate and all 100 seats in the state House are up for election. Of the 125 state legislative seats up for election, 14 are open. 

Additionally, we are covering municipal elections in Indianapolis and Allen County.

Redistricting highlights

Indiana was apportioned nine seats in the U.S. House after the 2020 census, the same number it was apportioned after the 2010 census.

Congressional and state legislative elections will take place under new district lines. With our side-by-side map comparison tools, you can see what redistricting looks like in your state. Here are the congressional maps in effect before and after the 2020 redistricting cycle in Indiana: 

To interact with this map, visit our Indiana redistricting page.

Partisan balance

  • Both of Indiana’s U.S. Senators–Mike Braun and Todd Young–are Republicans. 
  • Republicans represent six of the state’s U.S. House districts. Democrats represent two. One district has a vacancy.
  • Republicans hold a 39-11 majority in the state Senate and a 71-29 majority in the state House. The governor–Eric Holcomb–is a Republican, making Indiana one of the nation’s 23 Republican trifectas. Indiana has been a Republican trifecta since 2011. 
  • Indiana’s governor, attorney general, and secretary of state are all Republicans, making the state one of the nation’s 22 Republican triplexes.

State legislative seats contested by only one major party

Fifty-four state legislative seats, 43% of those up for election, do not have major party competition. When only a Democrat or Republican runs for a state legislative seat, the candidate running is all but assured of being elected.

Democrats are running for 68% of all seats up for election. Forty seats (32%) do not have a Democratic candidate.

Republicans are running for 88% of the seats up for election. Fourteen seats (11%) do not have a Republican candidate.

Key races

  • In Indiana’s 1st Congressional District, U.S. Rep. Frank Mrvan (D) faces Jennifer-Ruth Green (R) in his first re-election bid. Democrats have held the district since 1930. Two race forecasters rate the contest as Toss-Up and one as Likely Democratic.
  • A special election to fill the vacancy in Indiana’s 2nd Congressional District will be held on Nov. 8, 2022. The previous incumbent, Jackie Walorski (R), died in a car accident on Aug. 3, 2022.

Ballot measures

There are no statewide ballot measures in Indiana this year.


  • On Election Day, polls are open from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m.. An individual in line at the time polls close must be allowed to vote. 
  • Indiana requires voters to present photo identification at the polls. For more information about voter ID requirements in Indiana, click here
  • Early voting in Indiana is available to all voters. Early voting starts on Oct. 11, 2022, and ends on Nov. 7, 2022. 
  • The voting registration deadline in Indiana is Oct. 11, 2022. Registration can be done online, in person, or by mail. Indiana does not allow same-day voter registration.
  • In Indiana, voters meeting certain eligibility requirements can vote by absentee ballot. Eligible voters can return their ballots in person or by mail. Ballots must be received by Nov. 8 at 6 p.m. The deadline to request an absentee ballot is Oct. 27. 

Want to learn more about the elections you’ll be voting in this year? Click here to use our Sample Ballot Lookup tool! 

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A look at the recall election in Johnstown, Ohio

Today, Aug. 30, voters in Johnston, Ohio, will decide whether to recall Mayor Chip Dutcher and City Council President Marvin Block.

Recall supporters initiated the campaign after alleging Block had tried to intimidate former Police Chief Abe Haroon into dismissing a mayor’s court clerk and dispatcher from his office. 

Block said he did nothing wrong and, regarding the recall efforts, said, “That’s in our charter and part of the American way … I fully support that right and I support my right to defend myself.”

Recall supporters extended the effort to include Mayor Dutcher, saying, “He is the one presiding over the council … So, he is part of the problem. It’s a failure of leadership.”

Dutcher said, “It’s certainly the right of the voters to file whatever petition they like … I’m not afraid of my voters at all,” adding, ‘There are important things to focus on and this is just a distraction.”

This is the first scheduled recall election Ballotpedia has followed in Ohio this year.

Recall activity this year has decreased compared to 2021. Halfway through 2022, there had been 152 recall efforts against 240 officials. At that point in 2021, there were 165 efforts against 263 officials.

Of the 240 officials included in recalls by the middle of 2022, voters removed 20 from office.

The chart below compares recall statistics at all levels of government through June 22 of this year to the same overall counts in previous years. Based on data from the past five years, 55% of each year’s total recall efforts were initiated by the middle of the year, on average. 

If the pace from previous years holds, we project that 2022 will have 436 officials included in recall efforts by the end of the year.

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