Author

Dave Beaudoin

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

Ballotpedia’s Daily Brew: 12 states + D.C. currently have travel restrictions

Happy early Thanksgiving! We hope you enjoy the day, even if it looks a little different this year. We’ll be back with the next Brew edition on Monday, Nov. 30.

Welcome to the Tuesday, Nov. 24, Brew. Here’s what’s in store for you as you start your day:

  1. Traveling over Thanksgiving? Here are the states with restrictions on travel
  2. Expected census delays may postpone state redistricting efforts in 2021
  3. Upcoming elections

Traveling over Thanksgiving? Here are the states with restrictions on travel

Thanksgiving week is historically one of the busiest travel periods of the year. The CDC and many state officials are discouraging travel this year, citing the rise in coronavirus cases across the country.

Ballotpedia has tracked 12 states plus the District of Columbia that currently have active restrictions on travel:

  • Alaska
  • Connecticut
  • District of Columbia
  • Hawaii
  • Kansas
  • Maine
  • Massachusetts
  • New Jersey
  • New Mexico
  • New York
  • Pennsylvania
  • Rhode Island
  • Vermont

Of the states on that list, Alaska was the first to impose travel restrictions. Pennsylvania, which issued its restrictions on Nov. 20, was the most recent to do so.

All 12 states plus the District of Columbia require out-of-state travelers to self-quarantine for 14 days upon arrival. Some states, including Alaska, Massachusetts, and New York, allow travelers to avoid or reduce the length of the quarantine period if they can produce a negative COVID-19 test upon arrival. Restriction enforcement includes fines ranging from $100 to $10,000.

Since the pandemic began, 26 states have issued restrictions on travel, and 14 have been rescinded.

Many states that have not issued enforceable orders limiting travel have instead issued advisories encouraging travelers to quarantine upon arrival. Click the link below for a list of all the states’ travel restrictions and advisories. And to stay up-to-date on travel restrictions and much more coronavirus-related news, click here to subscribe to our Documenting America’s Path to Recovery emails.

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Expected census delays may postpone state redistricting efforts in 2021

On Nov. 19, U.S. Census Bureau Director Steve Dillingham announced an expected delay in processing population totals for the 2020 U.S. Census. On the same day, the New York Times reported that calculations could be delayed until at least Jan. 26, 2021, but possibly to mid-February. 

The standard census timeline calls for the bureau to submit apportionment counts to the President by Dec. 31 and redistricting data to the states by April 1, 2021. In the 2010 cycle, the bureau delivered apportion counts to the president on Dec. 21, 2010, and redistricting data to the states between Feb. 3 and March 24, 2011.

At least one state (California) has already extended its redistricting deadlines by order of the state supreme court, in light of the uncertainty surrounding the conclusion of the census. 

Federal law requires congressional and legislative districts to have roughly equal populations. Consequently, states use census data during their redistricting processes to ensure compliance with this requirement. 

Every 10 years, the United States conducts the census, a complete count of the U.S. population. Census results determine the number of seats each state has in the U.S. House of Representatives. Because the U.S. Constitution requires that representation be apportioned to the states on the basis of population, a state can gain seats if its population grows or lose seats if its population decreases, relative to populations in other states.

In the 2010 cycle, redistricting authorities enacted 43 new congressional district maps and 50 new state legislative district maps (seven states had only one district each, eliminating the need for congressional redistricting). The majority—63 maps (31 congressional and 32 state legislative), or 67.74% of the total—were enacted in 2011. In 2012, 28 maps (12 congressional and 16 state legislative) were enacted—30.11% of the total. The remaining maps were enacted in the first six months of 2013.

Although postponements to the 2020 process are possible because of census delays, what happened in 2010 gives us an idea of when most of the redistricting activity will occur.

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Upcoming elections

Much of the country’s attention is focused on the Jan. 5 runoffs for the U.S. Senate in Georgia. But there are several elections occurring before then. Let’s take a look at the upcoming races:

  • Nov. 24: Mississippi is holding a special runoff election for state House District 87 and a general runoff election for DeSoto County School District.
  • Dec. 1: Arkansas will hold a general runoff for the Little Rock School District.
  • Dec. 1: Georgia will hold a runoff for state races, including a special election runoff for Georgia state Senate District 39.
  • Dec. 5: Louisiana’s statewide general election.
  • Texas will hold elections on multiple days in December:
    • Dec. 8: General runoff for Arlington, Mansfield ISD, and Dallas County
    • Dec. 12: General runoff for El Paso County, Laredo, and Houston City Council 
    • Dec. 15: General runoff for Austin and Corpus Christi
    • Dec. 19: Special election runoff for state Senate District 30
  • Dec. 15: Alabama will hold a special election primary runoff will be held for state Senate District 26.
  • Dec. 22: New York will hold a special election for City Council District 12.

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Ballotpedia’s Daily Brew: Reviewing the effect of the Nov. 3 election results on redistricting

Welcome to the Friday, Nov. 20, Brew. Here’s what’s in store for you as you start your day:

  1. Legislative control of redistricting changed in New Hampshire, Vermont after Nov. 3 elections
  2. Election certification dates and next week’s election deadlines
  3. Friday trivia: Which state voted Republican in the presidential election and Democratic in its gubernatorial race?

Legislative control of redistricting changed in New Hampshire, Vermont after Nov. 3 elections

We’ve been busy analyzing this month’s election results and the effects they may have on politics and governance. This includes topics such as trifectas, triplexes, and the status of veto-proof majorities in state legislatures. Another area we’re tracking is how the results affected legislative control of redistricting.

Redistricting is the process of drawing new congressional and state legislative district boundaries. It occurs every 10 years after the publication of the decennial United States Census. Each state determines its own redistricting method.

Partisan control of redistricting changed from their post-2018 status in two states—New Hampshire and Vermont—as a result of the Nov. 3 elections: 

  • Both chambers of the New Hampshire legislature switched from Democratic to Republican control. Republicans gained a net 57 seats in the state House—giving them a 213-187 majority—and a net four seats in the state Senate, for a 14-10 majority. New Hampshire’s legislature will draw congressional and state legislative district lines in 2021, and the governor, Chris Sununu, is Republican.
  • Vermont’s redistricting process will occur under divided party control in 2021. Before the election, Democrats and third-party representatives who caucus with Democrats had supermajorities in both chambers of Vermont’s state legislature. Republicans had a net gain of three seats in the state House, meaning Democrats no longer have supermajority status in that chamber. The Democratic-controlled Vermont legislature will develop redistricting plans next year but will not have the two-thirds supermajority in each chamber necessary to override a possible veto from Republican Gov. Phil Scott.

Thirty-four states grant their state legislature control over congressional redistricting, and 35 give the legislature control over state legislative redistricting. After the Nov. 3 elections, the partisan control for these states will break down as follows:

  • Republican legislatures control 20 congressional and state legislative redistricting processes. 
  • Democratic legislatures control 10 congressional redistricting processes and 11 state legislative redistricting processes. 
  • Four congressional and state legislative redistricting processes are under divided party control. 

The remaining states employ independent or political commissions for their redistricting process. 

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Election certification dates and next week’s election deadlines 

Next week may include the Thanksgiving holiday, but it will be a busy week for states to certify their Nov. 3 election results. Between Nov. 23 and 25, 12 states and the District of Columbia have election certification and/or canvassing deadlines:

Nov. 23: Kentucky, Maine, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Utah

Nov. 24: District of Columbia, Indiana, Minnesota, New Mexico, North Carolina, and Ohio

Nov. 25: Alabama and Alaska

Five states—Arizona, Colorado, Iowa, Montana, and Nebraska—certify their election results Nov. 30.

To date, election certification and/or canvassing dates will pass today or have passed in 15 states:

• Nov. 5: Delaware

• Nov. 10: Louisiana, Oklahoma, South Dakota, and Vermont

• Nov. 11: South Carolina and Wyoming

• Nov. 13: Mississippi

• Nov. 16: Virginia (actual certification took place on Nov. 18)

• Nov. 17: Florida

• Nov. 18: Arkansas, Idaho, and Massachusetts

• Nov. 20: Georgia and North Dakota

By the end of next week, certification and/or canvassing deadlines will have passed in 27 states and the District of Columbia. 

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Friday trivia: Which state voted Republican in the presidential election and Democratic in its gubernatorial race?

We’ve been analyzing election results since Nov. 3, and earlier this week, we highlighted those states that voted for one party’s candidate for president and the other major party’s candidate for governor. Eleven states held gubernatorial elections this year.

Joe Biden (D) won two states—Vermont and New Hampshire—in the presidential race at the same time voters re-elected their Republican governors: Chris Sununu (N.H.) and Phil Scott (Vt.). A third state voted for President Donald Trump (R) and elected a Democratic governor. Can you guess which one?

Which state voted Republican in the presidential election and Democratic in their governor’s race?

  1. Delaware
  2. Indiana
  3. Montana
  4. North Carolina


Ballotpedia’s Daily Brew: The 75 closest congressional races of 2020

Welcome to the Thursday, Nov. 19, Brew. Here’s what’s in store for you as you start your day:

  1. Seventy-five congressional elections were decided by 10 percentage points or fewer
  2. Voters in Arizona, Colorado, Illinois decide ballot measures regarding state income taxes
  3. Local roundup

Seventy-five congressional elections were decided by 10 percentage points or fewer

Here’s more post-election analysis: Seventy-five (or 16%) of congressional elections were decided by 10 percentage points or fewer. Eight were races for U.S. Senate, and 67 were for U.S. House. 

This marks the second straight election cycle when more than 15% of congressional races were decided within that margin. In 2018, 22% were decided by 10 percentage points or fewer. Nine percent and 12% of races were decided by that margin in 2016 and 2014, respectively. 

In 2020, Democrats won 40 of these elections and Republicans won 35. 

Note: 14  U.S. House races were uncalled as of this writing (they’re not counted in the analysis below), and final counts haven’t been certified in many others. Ballotpedia will not project a winner for U.S. House elections until there is a consensus projection made by a pool of five national news outlets—ABC News, CNN, Fox News, NBC, and The New York Times. These numbers will change over the coming days and weeks.

Of the top three closest races this year (that have been called), two of the three resulted in a party change. Those were:

Thirty-five races were decided by fewer than five percentage points; three of those were U.S. Senate races, and 32 were U.S. House races. Of those, Democrats won 22 and Republicans won 13. 

In comparison, 102 races were decided by 10 percentage points or fewer in 2018. Of these, 12 were elections for the U.S. Senate, and 90 were elections for the U.S. House. Democratic candidates won 49 of these elections, and Republican candidates won 53. 

Fifty races in 2018 were decided by fewer than five percentage points: five elections for the U.S. Senate and 45 were elections for the U.S. House. Democratic candidates won 24 of these elections, and Republican candidates won 26.

There were 42 and 56 congressional races decided by 10 percentage points or fewer in 2016 and 2014, respectively. In 2016, nine were elections for the U.S. Senate, and 33 were elections for the U.S. House, with candidates from each major party winning 21 of the elections. In 2014, seven were elections for the U.S. Senate, and 49 were elections for the U.S. House. Democratic candidates won 32 of these elections, and Republican candidates won 24.

For races decided by fewer than five percentage points, there were 22 in 2016 and 31 in 2014. In 2016, five elections were for the U.S. Senate, and 17 were for the U.S. House seats, with Democratic candidates winning 14 of these elections and Republicans winning eight. In 2014, five were elections for the U.S. Senate, and 26 were for the U.S. House, with Democratic candidates winning 17 of these elections and Republican candidates winning 14.

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Voters in Arizona, Colorado, Illinois decide ballot measures regarding state income taxes

Voters in 12 states voted on 19 ballot measures addressing tax-related policies on Nov. 3. Today, let’s look at the three which concerned state income taxes, which were on the ballot in Arizona, Colorado, and Illinois. Arizona voters approved a measure to increase tax rates for income above a certain level to fund education. Colorado voters approved a decrease to the state’s flat income tax rate. Illinois voters defeated a measure to allow for a graduated income tax. Here are the details:

  • Arizona Proposition 208: Voters approved the measure by a vote of 51.8% to 48.3%. The measure enacts a 3.50% income tax, in addition to the existing income tax, on taxable income above $250,000 (single filing) or $500,000 (joint filing). 
    • As of 2020, the highest income tax in Arizona was 4.50%, which was levied on income above $159,000 (single filing) or $318,000 (joint filing). Based on the existing income tax rates, the ballot initiative has the effect of increasing the tax rate from 4.50% to 8.00% on income above $250,000 (single filing) or $500,000 (joint filing). 
  • Colorado Proposition 116: Voters approved the measure by a vote of 57.9% to 42.2%. It decreases the state income tax rate from 4.63% to 4.55% for individuals, estates, trusts, and foreign and domestic C corporations operating in Colorado. 
    • The Colorado individual income tax rate has been a flat tax rate since 1987. The flat tax was 5% from 1987 to 1998. It was lowered to 4.75% in 1999. The rate has been 4.63% since 2000. 
  • Illinois Graduated Income Tax Amendment: Voters defeated the measure 54.5% to 45.5%. It would have authorized the state to enact legislation providing for a graduated income tax. The measure would have repealed the state’s constitutional requirement that the state’s personal income tax is a flat rate across income. Instead, the ballot measure would have allowed the state to enact legislation for a graduated income tax. In Illinois, income is taxed at a flat rate of 4.95%. 

Beyond these three tax-related policy measures on the Nov. 3 ballot, 10 others addressed property taxes, two addressed tobacco taxes, one addressed business-related taxes, one addressed sales tax rates, one addressed fees and surcharges, and one was related to tax-increment financing (TIF).

Heading into the 2020 election, 43 states levied a tax on personal income. Of these 43 states, 11 states had a flat income tax rate, meaning there is a constant rate across income before deductions and exemptions. The flat income tax rates ranged from 2.00% in Tennessee to 5.25% in North Carolina. Most (32 of 50) states had a graduated income tax, with different rates applied to different levels of income.

Since 2016, California, Colorado, and Maine voters have decided four measures designed to directly increase or renew income tax rates. Two were approved, and two were defeated. One was repealed after approval.

Local roundup

In today’s roundup of local election results and previews, here’s an update on a Seattle City Council recall effort.

The Washington Supreme Court will consider the appeal of a recall petition against Seattle City Councilmember Kshama Sawant before the end of the year. Here’s a brief timeline of the events leading up to the court’s consideration.

  • Aug. 18: The recall against Sawant was initiated when lead petitioner Ernie Lou submitted a formal recall petition to the King County Elections Office.
  • Sept. 16: King County Superior Court Judge Jim Rogers certified four of the six grounds for recall contained in the petition.
  • Oct. 2: Sawant filed an appeal of the recall certification with the Washington Supreme Court. 
  • Nov. 12: The Washington Supreme Court issued a timeline for the appeal: 
    • Sawant’s opening brief is due to the court by Nov. 23
    • Petitioners’ response is due on Dec. 3
    • Sawant’s reply is due by Dec. 10

The court expects to rule on the appeal by Jan. 7, 2021. If Sawant’s appeal is unsuccessful, petitioners would be required to gather over 10,700 signatures from registered voters to get the recall on the ballot, which equals 25% of the total votes cast in the last District 3 election held in 2019.

Sawant represents District 3 on the Seattle City Council. Though the office is officially nonpartisan, Sawant is a member of the Socialist Alternative Party and, upon her election in 2013, was the first socialist elected to Seattle city government in 97 years.

In 2019, Ballotpedia covered a total of 151 recall efforts against 230 elected officials. Of the 66 officials whose recalls made it to the ballot, 34 were recalled for a rate of 52%. That was lower than the 63% rate and 57% rate for 2018 and 2017 recalls, respectively.
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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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Ballotpedia’s Daily Brew: Introducing Ballotpedia’s state supreme court partisanship study

Welcome to the Tuesday, Nov. 17, Brew. Here’s what’s in store for you as you start your day:

  1. Introducing Ballotpedia’s supreme court partisanship study
  2. Three states split presidential and gubernatorial vote in 2020
  3. Alaska state Legislature elections could influence trifecta status, legislature majorities

Introducing Ballotpedia’s supreme court partisanship study

Today, I’m excited to brief you on our newly published State Supreme Court Partisanship Study. 

First, some background. Each state has at least one supreme court, or court of last resort. Oklahoma and Texas each have two such courts, one for civil appeals and one for criminal appeals. The study – a culmination of eight months of research and compilation of raw data – supplies Partisan Confidence Scores for 341 active state supreme court justices on all 52 courts of last resort. 

We gathered a variety of data on each justice and, based on that data, placed each justice into one of five categories indicating our confidence in their affiliations with either the Democratic or Republican Parties. These categories are Strong Democratic Confidence, Mild Democratic Confidence, Indeterminate Confidence, Mild Republican Confidence, and Strong Republican Confidence. Click here to learn more about our methodology.

To be clear – the study does not specifically describe the partisan affiliation of judges. We call our scores Confidence Scores because we believe they provide insight into the degree of confidence we have in each justice’s political leanings because of their previous partisan activity.

Here are some of the key findings from the study:

  • Of the 341 justices studied, we assigned Republican scores to 178 (52.2%), Democratic scores to 114 (33.4%), and Indeterminate scores to 49 (14.4%).
  • Twenty-seven states (54%) have a majority of justices with Republican scores. Fifteen state supreme courts (30%) have a majority of justices with Democratic scores. Eight state supreme courts (16%) do not have a majority of justices with Democratic scores or Republican scores.
  • 39.9% of the population live in a state which has a majority of justices with Democratic scores on the court. 51.1% of citizens live in a state which has a majority of justices with Republican scores on the court. 9% of citizens live in a state with a split court, or a court with a majority of justices with indeterminate partisan leanings. 

Stay tuned for future Brew editions, where we’ll dive deeper into the study’s findings. 

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Three states split presidential and gubernatorial vote in 2020

Here’s another post-election results analysis for you. Of the 11 states that elected a governor this year, voters in three states (New Hampshire, North Carolina, and Vermont) voted for presidential and gubernatorial candidates of different parties. Voters in at least one other state voted for a presidential candidate opposite its current trifecta status. 

A state government trifecta occurs when one party holds a state’s governorship and majorities in both chambers of the state legislature. Heading into the 2020 elections, Republicans had 21 state government trifectas, and Democrats had 15. The 14 remaining states had divided government, where neither party had a trifecta.

Following the 2020 elections, Republicans were projected to gain trifecta control in Montana and New Hampshire. The trifecta status of Alaska was not yet determined. If control of Alaska does not change, Republicans will have 23 trifectas (a net gain of two), Democrats will have 15 trifectas, and 12 states will have divided governments (a net loss of two). If Republicans gain a trifecta in Alaska, they will have 24 trifectas to Democrats’ 15 with 11 divided governments.

This year, New Hampshire and Vermont re-elected their Republican governors while also voting for Joe Biden. North Carolina re-elected its Democratic governor while voting a second time for Donald Trump.

Both Montana and West Virginia voted for Donald Trump a second time while also electing a Republican governor. In Montana, Greg Gianforte (R) was elected governor after losing to incumbent Steve Bullock (D) in the 2016 election. In West Virginia, Jim Justice (R) was re-elected. Justice was first elected as a Democrat in 2016 and joined the Republican Party the following year.

In 2016, when all 11 states also held gubernatorial elections, five states split their presidential and gubernatorial votes. Montana, North Carolina, and West Virginia elected Democratic governors while also voting for Donald Trump (R). New Hampshire and Vermont elected Republican governors while also voting for Hillary Clinton (D).

Joe Biden (D) won all 15 states with Democratic trifectas as well as Arizona, which has a Republican trifecta. As of Nov. 16, the results of the presidential election in Georgia, a Republican trifecta, remained too close to call. Four of the five outlets Ballotpedia tracks had called the state for Joe Biden.

Donald Trump (R) won the other 19 Republican trifecta states. Of the 14 states with divided government heading into the election, six voted for Donald Trump and eight for Joe Biden.

Republicans gained trifectas in two states that had divided government before the election: Montana (which voted for Donald Trump) and New Hampshire (which voted for Joe Biden). As of Monday, Republicans stood to also gain a trifecta in Alaska, which voted for Donald Trump, although that state’s final trifecta status remained too close to call.

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Alaska state Legislature elections could influence trifecta status, legislative majorities

Speaking of trifectas, here’s an update from Alaska.

As of Monday, Republicans led in both legislative chambers, although several races remained too close to call. Local political observers suggest that minority coalitions had the potential to form in both chambers. Republicans won a 12-seat majority in the state Senate, with one election in a Republican-held district too close to call. However, observers reported that policy disputes in the Republican caucus left the possibility of a minority coalition open. Republicans won at least 19 seats in the state House, with 12 going to Democrats and one to an independent. Control of the eight remaining seats was too close to call.

In 2018, Republicans had a majority in the state Senate, gained control of the state House, and won the governorship. Although Republicans won a 23-16 majority of House seats in the 2018 election, divisions within the house caucus prevented them from taking formal control of the chamber and achieving a state government trifecta. A bipartisan coalition eventually organized a majority in which the two parties divided leadership and committee positions. Although they lost one seat in the Alaska state Senate, Republicans maintained a 13-7 majority.

Even with a majority in the Senate, Republicans could fail to unify, with some members possibly joining with the seven Democratic senators to form a coalition like the one created in the House in 2018. Eleven votes are necessary to name a new Senate leader and control the legislative process. In the House, the outcome of uncalled elections could affect the composition of the bipartisan coalition formed in 2018, and Republicans would have to form a united governing majority in both the House and Senate to achieve a trifecta.

Click the link below to follow along with us as we track results.
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Ballotpedia’s Daily Brew: The makeup of the federal judiciary

Welcome to the Monday, Nov. 16, Brew. Here’s what’s in store for you as you start your day:

  1. Under Trump, Republican-appointed majorities in circuit courts doubled
  2. Wyoming amendment concerning municipal debt for sewage systems fails due to non-votes
  3. Upcoming elections

Number of federal circuit courts with a majority of judges appointed by Republican presidents has doubled in Trump administration

From time to time, we’ve written in the Brew about the pace and status of judicial confirmations by the Trump administration. As 2020 draws to a close, let’s take a look back at the past four years.

Since Donald Trump’s inauguration, the number of federal circuit courts with Republican-appointed majorities has doubled from four to eight. Trump has appointed 52 judges to the 13 federal circuit courts. There are 179 U.S. Court of Appeals judgeships overall.

In January 2017, there were 90 judges appointed by Democrats, 74 judges appointed by Republicans, and 14 vacancies across the circuit courts. In November 2020, there were 80 judges appointed by Democrats, 97 judges appointed by Republicans, and one vacancy.

Of the five circuits that did not flip from majority Democratic-appointed to majority Republican-appointed, all but one kept the same partisan balance. The Ninth Circuit went from an 18-9 split (with two vacancies) before Trump took office to a 16-13 split (with no vacancies). The other four are the First, Tenth, D.C, and Federal Circuits.

All four circuits that were majority Republican-appointed when Trump took office added to that majority. The Fifth Circuit moved from R+5 to R+7, the Sixth Circuit from R+5 to R+6, the Seventh Circuit from R+2 to R+6, and the Eighth Circuit from R+6 to R+9.

Trump made the most appointments (10) to the Ninth Circuit. He made six appointments each to the Fifth, Sixth, and Eleventh Circuits. The only circuits without a Trump appointee as of November 2020 were the First Circuit and the Federal Circuit.

Overall, Trump had made 220 federal judicial appointments through Nov. 1 of this year. This is the highest number up to that date in a president’s first term since Jimmy Carter (D), who appointed 260 federal judges in that time period. Bill Clinton (D) follows Trump, having appointed 203 judges during the same time. 

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Wyoming amendment concerning municipal debt for sewage systems fails due to non-votes

We’ve been tracking and updating you on the November 2020 ballot measure results as they come in. Here’s an interesting one that may have been buried under all the others.

A Wyoming measure designed to remove the limit on debt a municipality could incur for sewer projects failed after 11% of the ballots cast either left the measure blank or filled in both “for” and “against.” The measure failed since it required approval from a majority of voters casting a ballot at the election, which means leaving Amendment A blank was the equivalent of voting against it. 

  • Total ballots cast at the election: 278,503 (100%)
  • Total votes for Amendment A: 126,589 (45.45%)
  • Total votes against Amendment A: 120,808 (43.38%)
  • Undervotes and overvotes on Amendment A: 31,106 (11.17%)

In other words, the measure received a plurality of votes cast, but it required a majority based on the total number of ballots cast for it to be approved. 

Five other states besides Wyoming have the requirement that a majority of voters must approve a constitutional amendment. Four—Utah, Minnesota, Hawaii, and Illinois—require constitutional amendments to be approved by a majority of all voters at the election, and one (Tennessee) requires approval from a number equal to a majority of all voters casting a ballot for governor. Nebraska, Mississippi, and Massachusetts have provisions that require approval from a certain percentage, ranging from 30% to 40%, of all voters at the election. Provisions like these mean that a certain number of undervotes on an amendment could prevent the measure from passing despite approval from a majority of votes cast on the measure itself.

Here are some background facts:

  • From 1996 through 2018, the Wyoming State Legislature referred 26 constitutional amendments to the ballot. Voters approved 18 and rejected eight of the referred amendments. 
  • Four of the eight rejected measures were defeated despite receiving more yes votes than no votes. 
  • All of the amendments were referred to the ballot for general elections during even-numbered election years. 
  • The average number of amendments appearing on the general election ballot was two. 
  • The approval rate at the ballot box was 69.23% during the 22-year period from 1996 through 2018. The rejection rate was 30.77%.

Ballotpedia covers local measures that appear on the ballot for voters within the top 100 largest cities in the U.S. Ballotpedia also covers all local measures in California and all statewide ballot measures. For the latest on ballot measures, click here subscribe to our State Ballot Measure Monthly newsletter. 

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Upcoming elections

After the whirlwind of the Nov. 3 elections, you might think elections are over for this year. However, residents in several states still have upcoming races in November and December. Here’s a look at what’s coming up:

  • Alabama: A special general election and a special primary will be held for a state House and state Senate district, respectively, on Nov. 17.
  • Mississippi: A general runoff election will be held for a school district and state House district on Nov. 24.
  • Arkansas: A general runoff election will be held for a school district on Dec. 1.
  • Georgia: General runoff elections will be held for statewide races and one federal race on Dec. 1.
  • Louisiana: General statewide elections will be held on Dec. 5.
  • Texas: A general runoff election will be held for mayoral and city council seats on Dec. 12.

There is also a potential runoff election for the regular U.S. Senate race in Georgia, which would be held on Jan. 5. 

The runoffs for statewide and federal offices in Georgia are on separate dates to allow enough time to send and receive military and overseas ballots.

We’ll be covering the Georgia elections in a regular newsletter starting later this week. Stay tuned for more details!
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On Veterans Day, a look at members of Congress who served

Welcome to the Wednesday, Nov. 11, Brew. Here’s what’s in store for you as you start your day:

  1. 96 current members of Congress have served in the armed forces 
  2. Five states have certified their Nov. 3 election results
  3. Eleven states, Washington D.C., have active travel restrictions due to COVID-19

96 current members of Congress have served in the armed forces 

Ninety-six members—18%—of the current Congress (pre-Nov. 3 election) have served in the armed forces. Of those, 66 are Republicans, and 30 are Democrats. Fourteen of these veterans retired or sought other offices in the 2020 elections, meaning they will not return for the 117th Congress in January.

Of the others, 66 won their re-election campaigns, six were Senators not up for re-election this year, and six are in races that are not yet called. Four—Sen. Martha McSally (R-Ariz.), Steve Watkins (R-Kan.), Collin Peterson (D-Minn.), and Denver Riggleman (R-Va.)—lost their bid for re-election.

  • Of the 96 veterans serving in the 116th Congress, 73 served on active duty with one of the four main branches of the service—15 in the Air Force, 36 in the Army, 15 in the Marine Corps, and eight in the Navy. 
  • U.S. Rep. Steven Palazzo (R-Miss.) served in both the Army and Marine Corps. 
  • Twelve members of Congress served in the National Guard, and 11 have served in the reserves. 

According to the American Enterprise Institute, there were 100 veterans in the 115th Congress and 101 in the 114th Congress.

President Woodrow Wilson (D) recognized November 11 as Armistice Day in 1919 to commemorate the armistice agreement that ended World War I in 1918. Congress recognized Nov. 11 as a legal holiday to honor veterans of World War I in 1926. It changed the name from Armistice Day to Veteran’s Day in 1954 to further commemorate the service of veterans in World War II and the Korean War.

Five states have certified their Nov. 3 election results

Election results reported by media sources are regularly referred to as unofficial on Election Night and the days that follow. But when do unofficial election returns become official? Each state has its own process and timetable for canvassing and certifying results in every election.

In a canvass, local and state election officials verify that each ballot cast in the election was correctly counted. Certification is the process where election results are made official. The two processes are closely related, and some states, localities, and commentators use the terms interchangeably to describe the entire process of counting ballots and formalizing results.

Five states have already certified their Nov. 3 election results. Delaware was the first state to do so on Nov. 5. Louisiana, Oklahoma, South Dakota, and Vermont certified their results on Nov. 10. Two states—South Carolina and Wyoming—will certify election results today.

Forty-six states have laws establishing deadlines for certification. Four states—Hawaii, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Tennessee—have no specific date for certification.

The election certification date affects when a recount can occur. A recount is a process where election officials re-tabulate the votes cast in an election to verify the accuracy of the original results. Recount laws and the timing of when a recount can be triggered or requested varies by state. Some states allow for recounts to occur after canvassing but before results are made official through certification. Other states require both the canvassing and certification of results before beginning a recount process. 

The chart below shows state election result certification deadlines relative to the Nov. 3 general election. A longer bar indicates a date further from the general election. Ballotpedia compiled this information from a review of state laws, election administration manuals, election calendars, and inquiries of election officials.

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Eleven states, Washington D.C., have active travel restrictions due to COVID-19

Since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, 25 states have issued at least one executive order restricting interstate travel. While each state’s order is different, they generally required travelers from certain states to self-quarantine and limit exposure to others for a specified period of time upon entering the state. In some instances, travelers could be exempt from the requirement if they took or presented a negative COVID-19 test taken within a certain number of days of their arrival.

Of the 25 executive orders issued by governors or state agencies placing restrictions on out-of-state visitors, at least 14 have been rescinded. Eleven states and Washington D.C. currently have active travel restrictions.

For example, Washington, D.C., Mayor Muriel Bowser (D) announced a new advisory Nov. 4 that requires visitors to the city to take a COVID-19 test within 72 hours of arriving in the district. Visitors who are in the city for longer than three days are asked to take a test within 3-5 days of arrival. The advisory asks those who test positive or come into contact with someone who tested positive to refrain from entering the city.

Our Documenting America’s Path to Recovery newsletter tracks the status of reopening in all 50 states and summarizes major changes due to the coronavirus pandemic in politics, government, and elections. It covers the current status of school closures and reopenings, stay-at-home orders, noteworthy lawsuits, travel restrictions, mask mandates, eviction and foreclosure policies and more. 

Documenting America’s Path to Recovery is published every week on Tuesdays and Thursdays—click here to subscribe and get Thursday’s edition delivered to your email!

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Where the state legislatures stand

Welcome to the Tuesday, Nov. 10, Brew. Here’s what’s in store for you as you start your day:

  1. An early look at partisan balance in state legislatures
  2. Local roundup
  3. Don’t miss tomorrow’s election results briefing

An early look at partisan balance in state legislatures

In the last few Brew issues, we’ve brought you a variety of election results analyses such as the updated statuses of state government trifectas and triplexes and an early look at Pivot Counties results. Today, let’s take a glance at what we know about the status of partisan balance in the state legislatures.

As of Monday, partisan control changed in two state legislative chambers as a result of the 2020 elections—Republicans gained majorities in the New Hampshire House of Representatives and the New Hampshire state Senate. 

Sixteen state-level recounts in New Hampshire begin Nov. 9, 15 of which are state legislative seats. These recounts could affect partisan control of the state legislature. We briefed our Election Help Desk newsletter subscribers on this yesterday afternoon—click here to subscribe.

This is the fourth time this decade that the New Hampshire Legislature has changed party hands.

  • In 2010, the Democrats lost their trifecta when Republicans gained a majority in both the state Senate and House.
  • In 2016, the state gained a Republican trifecta when the party maintained control in the legislature and won the governorship. 
  • In 2018, Democrats gained a majority in the state Senate, causing the state to lose its Republican trifecta.

Majorities in two chambers remained undecided: the Alaska House of Representatives and the Arizona House of Representatives.

Stay tuned for a more detailed analysis of the changes in partisan balance of each seat in state legislatures. More than 500 races—approximately 10% of the state legislative districts up for election this year—remain uncalled.

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Local roundup

This year, elections were held in 56 of the top 100 cities by population, including elections for 29 mayors. As races continue to be called, we’ve been able to dive into some of the local battleground results. Today, let’s look at the Los Angeles County district attorney election.

George Gascón defeated incumbent Jackie Lacey in the nonpartisan general election for Los Angeles County District Attorney, the nation’s largest local prosecutorial district. Preliminary returns show Gascón defeated Lacey 54% to 46%.

Gascón served two terms as San Francisco District Attorney, winning election to succeed Kamala Harris in 2011 and winning re-election unopposed in 2015. He did not seek election to a third term in 2019. Lacey was first elected as Los Angeles County District Attorney in 2012 and was re-elected unopposed in 2016.

Gascón was endorsed by Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D), and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.). Lacey received endorsements from Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), California State Treasurer Fiona Ma (D), and the Los Angeles County Police Chiefs’ Association.

Lacey was the first-place finisher in the March 3 nonpartisan primary, winning 49% of the vote to Gascón’s 28%. 

The last time an incumbent Los Angeles County district attorney was defeated in a re-election bid was in 2000.

Other Nov. 3 local battleground races include:

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Don’t miss tomorrow’s election results briefing

On Wednesday, we’ll take a look at notable updated election results. Join Ballotpedia Managing Editor Cory Eucalitto as he brings you up-to-date on the newly finalized races, recently called ballot measures, and trends from across the country. 

He’ll be addressing topics like:

  • Possible lawsuits and recounts in the presidential election
  • Georgia Senate runoff possibilities
  • Control of the Senate, House, and state government trifecta changes
  • State legislature net seat changes

You won’t want to miss such a fascinating overview of where things stand following Nov. 3! This free webinar will be held tomorrow, Nov. 11, at 11:00 a.m. Central. Click here to reserve your spot.



Election results – Day 3 – an early look at pivot counties

Welcome to the Friday, November 6, Brew. Here’s what’s in store for you as you start your day:

  1. Where the 2020 elections stand
  2. An early look at the results in Pivot Counties
  3. Looking at state executive races

Where the 2020 elections stand

We’ve been tracking election results all day as states continue to count remaining ballots. All results in this email are as of 11:30 p.m. EST.

Here are some links for you to bookmark:

  • A rundown of states’ official results certification dates can be found here. The first state certification date was Nov. 5 for Delaware. The next is Nov. 10 for Louisiana, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Vermont, and Virginia.
  • For updates throughout the day, visit our results hub page at Ballotpedia.org
  • Stay tuned for our next email update later this afternoon via our Help Desk newsletter
  • For details about how recounts and challenges work, check out the information we have compiled on our Election Help Desk.
  • Click here to learn how we decide to call an election. 

Now, let’s get into the projected results.

Who won the presidency?

Vote counting continues and media outlets hadn’t predicted a definitive winner. No new states were called for either candidate Thursday. So far, the five media outlets we’re tracking had unanimously called 44 states and Washington, D.C., in the presidential election. The six remaining uncalled states, according to Ballotpedia’s election calling policy, are Alaska, Arizona, Georgia, Nevada, North Carolina, and Pennsylvania, as well as Maine’s 2nd Congressional District.

President Donald Trump (R) had won states totaling 213 electoral votes to Joe Biden’s (D) 253. 

Yesterday, both candidates made statements expressing confidence in their own victories. 

Ballotpedia tracked two more states in which the presidential election has been subject either to lawsuits or recount efforts, bringing the total number of states to four: Georgia, Michigan, Nevada, and Pennsylvania. Click here to learn more.

Who controls the U.S. Senate?

Control of the U.S. Senate as a result of the 2020 elections had not been determined. No new Senate races were called Thursday. Six races, all with Republican incumbents, had not been called by a consensus of media outlets. Those races are in Alaska, Arizona, Georgia’s regular and special Senate elections, Maine, and North Carolina. 

Some media outlets had called the race in Arizona for Mark Kelly (D) and in Maine for Susan Collins (R), although neither had met our race calling policy. Collins’ Democratic challenger Sara Gideon conceded the race yesterday afternoon.

The composition of the Senate excluding the six uncalled seats is 47 Republicans, 45 Democrats, and two independents who caucus with the Democrats. Republicans and Democrats had each flipped one seat—a Republican gain in Alabama and a Democratic one in Colorado. 

If no candidate in the Georgia U.S. Senate races receives more than 50% of the vote, the top-two finishers will advance to a general runoff election on Jan. 5, 2021. The control of the Senate may not be determined until the winner of one or both of those elections is determined.

Who controls the House of Representatives?

Control of the U.S. House as a result of the 2020 elections had not been determined, although media outlets project the Democratic Party to maintain their majority. As of 8:30 p.m. ET on Nov. 5, we had called 379 of 435 House races. Democrats had won 192, and Republicans had won 187. Democrats currently hold a 232-197 majority.

Republicans had flipped seven seats, and Democrats flipped two, according to Ballotpedia’s election calling policy.

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An early look at the results in Pivot Counties 

Pivot Counties are the 206 counties nationwide that Ballotpedia identified as having voted for Barack Obama (D) in 2008 and 2012 and Donald Trump (R) in 2016. These counties are sometimes referred to as swing counties by media and political observers.

More than four-fifths of Pivot Counties—174—backed President Trump (R) for re-election this year, while 20 voted for Joe Biden (D), according to our analysis of preliminary vote totals. Preliminary election returns were not available in the 12 remaining Pivot Counties.

In 2016, President Trump carried the median Pivot County by a margin of 9.4 percentage points. This year, President Trump’s median margin of victory in the 174 counties he carried was 13.8 percentage points, while Joe Biden’s median margin in the 20 counties he carried was 3.4 percentage points. The raw data for this study was provided by Dave Leip of Atlas of U.S. Presidential Elections in July 2017.

Donald Trump expanded on his 2016 margins in 125 of the 174 Pivot Counties he carried by an average margin of 4.5 percentage points and lost ground in the remaining 49 by an average margin of 2.5 percentage points. The 20 counties Biden carried swung towards Democrats by an average margin of 5.6 percentage points.

The two largest swings towards President Trump were 19.2 percentage points in Woodruff County, Arkansas, and 14.5 percentage points in St. Lawrence County, New York.

The largest swing away from Trump overall was in Ziebach County, South Dakota. Joe Biden carried the county by a margin of 8.5 percentage points after Trump carried it by a 2.0 percentage point margin in 2016—a 10.5 percentage point swing. 

On average, the 174 Trump-voting Pivot Counties were smaller than the 20 Biden-supporting counties, with average populations of 66,917 and 181,325, respectively. The 20 Biden-supporting counties had a smaller average non-Hispanic White population (77.1% versus 80.1% in the Trump-supporting counties) and a smaller average Black population (5.8% versus 8.2%). They also had a higher average proportion of the population with bachelor’s degrees (26.0% versus 18.9%). The Biden-supporting counties are in Colorado, Delaware, Florida, Michigan, Minnesota (four counties), Montana, New Hampshire (two counties), New Jersey, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Washington (two counties), and Wisconsin (two counties).

The results detailed above are all unofficial and exact county counts are expected to change. As more vote totals come in, we’ll be updating our analysis accordingly. As we continue to monitor the situation, follow along with us at the link below, where you can also find more details about Pivot County results.

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Looking at state executive races

Yesterday, we brought you the status of state government trifectas. Here’s the latest update: 

Republicans were projected to gain trifecta control in Montana and New Hampshire, leaving them with 22 trifectas and Democrats with 15. Eleven states had divided governments. It was too early to call the trifecta status of Alaska, which was under divided government heading into the election, and Arizona, which was a Republican trifecta.

Now, let’s dive into state executive race results.

Gubernatorial elections

In this year’s 11 gubernatorial races, incumbents won re-election in nine. 

The races in Montana and Utah were for open seats. Spencer Cox (R) won in Utah, where Gov. Gary Herbert (R) did not run for re-election. Greg Gianforte (R) won in Montana, where Gov. Steve Bullock (D) was term-limited and instead ran for U.S. Senate. Montana was the only governorship to change partisan control in 2020. 

Republicans will have 27 governorships to Democrats’ 23 as a result of the 2020 elections. Seven of this year’s elections were in states with a Republican governor, and four were in states with a Democratic governor.

The last time these offices were all up for election together was in 2016. That year, Republicans gained three governorships (in Missouri, New Hampshire, and Vermont), and Democrats gained one (in North Carolina). In Vermont and New Hampshire, governors are elected to two-year terms. In 2018, their respective governors Phillip Scott (R) and Chris Sununu (R) both won re-election.

Attorney general elections

Ten attorney general elections were held this year, and nine of the races had been called. Incumbents won re-election in seven of the nine called races, and no seats changed party hands.

In Indiana, incumbent Curtis Hill lost in the Republican convention to Todd Rokita, who went on to win the general election. In Montana, incumbent Tim Fox (R) did not run for re-election, and Austin Knudsen (R) won in the general election.

The last time this set of offices was up was 2016. That year, one seat changed party hands—Republican Josh Hawley won the open seat in Missouri, which was previously under Democratic control.

Secretary of state elections

Seven secretary of state elections were held this year, and four of the races have been called. Incumbents won re-election in two of the four called races, and one seat changed party hands.

In Montana, incumbent Corey Stapleton lost the Republican primary to Matt Rosendale, who went on to win the general election. In Oregon, incumbent Bev Clarno (R) did not run for re-election. Shemia Fagan (D) won the general election. 

The last time this set of offices was up was 2016. That year, five seats changed party hands, with a net gain of three seats for Republicans.

Don’t forget: We’re holding our third election results briefing later today as David Luchs from our marquee team joins me to discuss notable trends, races, and results from state-level and down-ballot races across the nation. Click here to register for this free briefing at 11 a.m. CT. And if you can’t attend live, we’ll send you a link to the video when it’s concluded so you can watch it on your schedule.

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Election results – Day 2

Welcome to the Thursday, Nov. 5, Brew. Here’s what’s in store for you as you start your day:

  1. Where the 2020 elections stand
  2. Looking at statewide ballot measure results
  3. Status of state government trifectas and triplexes

Where the 2020 elections stand

It was another busy day and late-night tracking election results. All results in this email are as of 11:30 p.m. EST.

Here are some links for you to bookmark to stay on top of things:

  • A rundown of states’ official results certification dates can be found here. The first state certification date is Nov. 10 for Louisiana, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Vermont, and Virginia.
  • For updates throughout the day today, visit our results hub page at Ballotpedia.org
  • Stay tuned for our next email update later this morning via our Help Desk newsletter
  • For details about how recounts and challenges work, check out the information we have compiled on our Election Help Desk.
  • Click here to learn how we decide to call an election. 

Now, let’s get into the projected results. 

Who won the presidency?

Media outlets still hadn’t predicted a definitive winner, and neither candidate had conceded. So far, the five media outlets we’re tracking had unanimously called 44 states and Washington, D.C., in the presidential election. Six states remained uncalled, according to Ballotpedia’s election calling policy—Alaska, Arizona, Georgia, Nevada, North Carolina, and Pennsylvania—in addition to Maine’s 2nd Congressional District. 

President Donald Trump (R) had won states totaling 213 electoral votes to Joe Biden’s (D) 237.

On Wednesday, Donald Trump’s campaign filed lawsuits in Georgia and Pennsylvania. Subscribers to the Ballotpedia Help Desk newsletter received detailed updates about these yesterday. Click here to learn more.

Who controls the U.S. Senate?

Control of the U.S. Senate as a result of the 2020 elections had not been determined. Twenty-eight of 35 races had been called, and Republicans had 47 seats, while Democrats had 46 seats (including two independents who caucus with Democrats).

Outlets had not reached consensus in Alaska, Arizona, Georgia (regular and special), Maine, Michigan, and North Carolina.

Republicans and Democrats had each flipped one seat:

  • Tommy Tuberville (R) defeated incumbent Doug Jones (D) in Alabama.
  • John Hickenlooper (D) defeated incumbent Cory Gardner (R) in Colorado.

Who controls the House of Representatives?

Control of the U.S. House as a result of the 2020 elections had not been determined, although media outlets project the Democratic Party to maintain their majority. Three-hundred forty-seven of the 435 races had been called. Republicans had won 173 seats to Democrats’ 170.

Republicans flipped four seats, and Democrats flipped two, according to Ballotpedia’s election calling policy. 

Some outlets projected that at least two other districts had flipped, though they had not yet met our race calling policy: Florida’s 26th and 27th Congressional Districts.

State executives

Eleven states held elections for governor. Incumbents won nine of the races. Spencer Cox (R) won in Utah, where the Republican incumbent did not run for re-election. Greg Gianforte (R) won in Montana, making it the only governorship to change partisan control in 2020. After the 2020 elections, Republicans will hold 27 governorships to Democrats’ 23. Seven of the elections this year were in states with a Republican governor, and four were in states with a Democratic governor.

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Looking at statewide ballot measure results 

Voters in 32 states decided 120 statewide ballot measures on Nov. 3, and Ballotpedia had called the outcome of 93 measures. Seventy-two were approved and 21 were defeated. The remaining 27 were uncalled.

Below are a few noteworthy results:

  • Illinois voters rejected a constitutional amendment to allow for a graduated income tax. The ballot measure would have repealed the state’s constitutional requirement that the state’s personal income tax be a flat rate across income. Instead, the ballot measure would have allowed the state to enact legislation for a graduated income tax. More than $121 million was raised by supporters and opponents of the measure. Supporters raised $60.33 million, including $56.5 million from Gov. J.B. Pritzker. Opponents raised $60.86 million, including $53.8 million from Citadel CEO Kenneth C. Griffin.
  • Voters approved changes to state drug and criminal justice policies in several states. In Oregon, two ballot measures—Measure 109 and Measure 110—were approved. Measure 109 created a program for administering psilocybin products, such as psilocybin-producing mushrooms and fungi. Measure 110 decriminalized Schedule I-IV controlled substances, such as heroin, cocaine, and methamphetamines. 
  • In Arizona, Montana, New Jersey, and South Dakota, voters approved ballot measures to legalize recreational marijuana. Mississippi, along with South Dakota, also approved medical marijuana programs. Voters in Oklahoma rejected a ballot initiative, State Question 805, that would have prohibited the use of a person’s past non-violent felony convictions to impose a greater (enhanced) sentence when sentencing a person convicted of a non-violent felony.
  • In California, voters rejected Proposition 16. Proposition 16 would have allowed the use of affirmative action involving race-based or sex-based preferences in California by repealing Proposition 209, passed in 1996, from the California Constitution. Proposition 209 states that discrimination and preferential treatment are prohibited in public employment, public education, and public contracting on account of a person’s or group’s race, sex, color, ethnicity, or national origin.
  • California voters approved Proposition 17, which expanded the right to vote to people on parole for felony convictions. In Alabama, Colorado, and Florida, constitutional amendments were approved to state that only a citizen of the U.S. who is 18 years old or older can vote. 
  • Abortion was on the ballot in Colorado and Louisiana. Colorado voters rejected Proposition 115, which would have prohibited abortion after a fetus reaches 22 weeks gestational age. Louisiana voters approved Amendment 1, which added language to the Louisiana Constitution stating that “nothing in this constitution shall be construed to secure or protect a right to abortion or require the funding of abortion.”
  • On election policy issues, both Florida Amendment 3 and Massachusetts Question 2 were defeated. Florida Amendment 3 would have created a top-two primary system, and Massachusetts Question 2 would have adopted ranked-choice voting.

For more on ballot measure results, don’t miss today’s briefing reviewing what we know about results so far. Ballotpedia’s own Josh Altic will be joining me at 11:00 a.m. Central Time as he breaks down the results and what happens next. Click here to secure your spot!

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Status of state government trifectas and triplexes

A state government trifecta occurs when one party holds the governorship and a majority in both chambers of a state’s legislature. A state government triplex occurs when the governor, attorney general, and secretary of state in a given state are all members of the same political party. We’re monitoring how the 2020 elections will affect the status of trifectas and triplexes throughout the country.

Trifectas

As of last night, Republicans were projected to gain trifecta control in Montana and New Hampshire. It was too early to call one Republican-held trifecta, six Democratic-held trifectas, and four divided governments. If Republicans hold the net gain of two trifectas, the country will have 23 Republican-held trifectas, 15 Democratic-held trifectas, and 12 divided governments.

Heading into the 2020 elections, there were 36 state government trifectas—the most since 2013. Republicans had 21 trifectas, and Democrats had 15. The other 14 states had divided government, meaning neither party had a trifecta.

Triplexes

In the 2020 elections, 13 states held elections for one or more triplex offices. Heading into the 2020 elections, there were 36 state government triplexes—19 Republican triplexes and 17 Democratic triplexes. The remaining 14 states were under divided control.

As of last night, Republicans and Democrats had each gained triplex status in one state. Montana will become a Republican triplex, as they won the governor’s race and maintained control of the secretary of state and attorney general offices. Oregon will become a Democratic triplex, as they flipped the secretary of state’s office and maintained control of the attorney general’s office. Triplex status as a result of the 2020 elections remains undetermined in six states.
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