How states fill current and upcoming supreme court vacancies

There are two current vacancies on state supreme courts, with another three planned based on scheduled retirements.
The current vacancies are in Kentucky and South Dakota, and the pending vacancies are in Arizona, North Carolina, and Virginia.
States fill their supreme court vacancies in a number of ways. Here’s how the states with current or upcoming vacancies fill unexpected openings:
  • Kentucky, South Dakota, and Arizona: a successor is chosen by the governor from a list of names compiled by a nominating commission. They are among the 24 states that use this form of assisted appointment for their court of last resort.
  • North Carolina: vacancies are filled by the governor, without him or her having to choose from a list supplied by a commission. It is one of four states that fills vacancies by gubernatorial appointment.
    • This year, Gov. Roy Cooper (D) chose sitting justice Cheri Beasley to fill the vacant chief justice position. She will take the seat on March 1.
  • Virginia: vacancies are filled by a majority vote of the House of Delegates and state Senate. It is one of two states that fills vacancies this way.
    • On February 14, 2019, the General Assembly appointed Virginia Court of Appeals Judge Teresa M. Chafin to fill a vacancy on the court. She will join the court on September 1.

Legislators consider initiative and referendum process following increased initiative activity over the last three years

As direct democracy receives more attention so do the processes that govern how measures get on the ballot, the rules for support and opposition campaigns, the requirements for approval, and other details. In 2016 and 2018, citizen-initiatives were more prominent in the political landscape than they had been for several election cycles.
Voters directly decided nearly 150 issues over the last three years through initiative and veto referendum signature petitions. More than 200 other statewide ballot measures were sent to voters in the last three years by state legislatures or automatically referred by state laws.
So far in 2019 legislative sessions, 121 legislative proposals concerning ballot initiatives, veto referendums, legislative referrals, local ballot measures, and recall have been introduced in 30 states. Two initiatives directly related to initiative and referendum laws were also filed in Missouri and South Dakota targeting the 2020 ballot.
  • Laws concerning total signature requirements for initiatives and veto referendums or recalls were introduced in five states; in Missouri and Utah, the bills were designed to increase the total number of signatures required for citizen initiatives.
  • Proposed laws concerning distribution requirements for signature gathering were introduced in Arizona, Arkansas, Missouri, and Montana.
  • In Maine and Massachusetts pay-per-signature bans were introduced.
  • In Oregon, a bill to restrict legislative alteration of future initiatives was introduced.
  • Legislation to increase the supermajority requirement or impose additional vote requirements was introduced in Florida, New Mexico, North Dakota, and Washington.
  • In Missouri, a citizen initiative was filed to prevent state residency requirements, pay-per-signature restrictions, and initiative filing fees. It would also require voter approval for any changes to the initiative and referendum process and establish a system for electronic signatures. Two bills designed to enact initiative filing fees, among other provisions, were introduced in Missouri’s 2019 legislative session.
  • In South Dakota, an initiative to roll back some changes made in 2018 was filed.
  • Proposals were introduced in nine states to establish a process for ballot initiatives, veto referendums, recall, or some combination of the three.
  • 26 states have some form of initiative or veto referendum process. The last state to establish a process for initiatives was Mississippi in 1992.

In 2018, Ballotpedia tracked 203 pieces of legislation related to ballot measures and recall in 34 states by the end of the year. Of those 203, 34 were approved, 140 were rejected or abandoned, and nine were carried over to 2019. The most significant proposals were passed in Michigan and South Dakota.

Obama-Obama-Trump pivot counties in 2018 state legislative elections

There are 206 pivot counties in the country-those that voted for Barack Obama (D) in both 2008 and 2012 and Donald Trump (R) in 2016. On November 6, 2018, 87 of the nation’s 99 state legislative chambers held regularly-scheduled elections for 6,073 seats. Of those, 453 state house districts and 138 state senate districts intersected with pivot counties. These 591 state legislative districts accounted for approximately 10 percent of all state legislative districts up for election in 2018.
Sixty-one districts switched partisan control in the 2018 elections. The elections resulted in a net change of 19 seats in favor of Democrats. The most common changes were:
  • Republican to Democrat: 31 districts
  • Democrat to Republican: 20 districts
  • Split districts to all-Democrats: 10 districts
Democratic candidates for state legislatures in districts that intersected with a pivot county won a net total of 19 seats (3.2 percent of the total they controlled going into the election). Nationally, the party gained 308 seats (9.7 percent of the total they controlled going into the election).
Republicans lost a lower percentage of these seats than they did nationally, 3.3 percent to 7.2 percent.
Across the country, Democrats gained control of six state legislative chambers from Republicans, while losing one chamber (Alaska House) to a power-sharing agreement.

Reverse pivot counties in 2018 U.S. House elections

Democratic candidates for the U.S. House carried all six reverse pivot counties in 2018. Reverse pivot counties are counties that voted for John McCain (R) in 2008, Mitt Romney (R) in 2012, and Hillary Clinton (R) in 2016.
The average margin of victory for 2018 U.S. House candidates in these counties was 11.05 percent. Cobb County, Georgia, had the lowest margin of victory with 7.18 percent and Henry County, Georgia, had the highest with 14.59 percent.
In five of the six counties, the Democratic U.S. House candidate had a larger margin of victory than Clinton did in 2016. Her average margin of victory in 2016 in these counties was 4.96 percent.
There are six reverse pivot counties in the country from four states: Orange County, California; Cobb County, Georgia; Gwinnett County, Georgia; Henry County, Georgia; Anne Arundel County, Maryland; and Fort Bend County, Texas. Their opposite, pivot counties, voted for Barack Obama twice and Donald Trump in 2016.

Curious about who your elected representatives are following the 2018 election? Find out on Ballotpedia!

Last fall’s election winners have now been sworn into office in all 50 states. The final state, Alaska, swore in its new officeholders on January 15. Ballotpedia has updated our Who represents me? tool to reflect the new arrivals.
This tool enables you to find your list of elected representatives by simply inputting your address. All of your federal and state officeholders will be included in your search results, and some or all of your local officeholders will be included as well depending on the address. While reviewing your results, be sure to click on the names of officeholders to learn more about them!
Please note that some elected offices, such as local or judicial offices, may follow unique swearing-in schedules that differ from their state’s calendar.

Florida and California top total state party revenue for both Democratic and Republican parties between 2011 and 2017

The Democratic and Republican parties maintain state-level affiliates in all 50 states. The parties primarily raise money through contributions, which they later use to support electoral candidates and general party administration.
Democratic affiliates in Florida and California—which is a Democratic state trifecta—had the highest total state party revenue between 2011 and 2017, followed by Ohio, Virginia, and New York. At the other end of the spectrum, Democratic affiliates in Wyoming and Hawaii had the lowest total state party revenue over the seven-year period, followed by Vermont, Mississippi, and South Dakota.
State Democratic parties spent the most per capita in New Hampshire, Montana, Iowa, Maine, and Nevada.
Republican affiliates in Florida–which is a Republican state trifecta—and California also had the highest total state party revenue between 2011 and 2017, followed by Ohio, Pennsylvania, and North Carolina. Republican affiliates in Rhode Island and Oregon had the lowest total state party revenue over the seven-year period, followed by Delaware, Wyoming, and Hawaii.
Per capita, Republicans spent the most in Vermont, North Dakota, Florida, Iowa, and Wisconsin.

Local California tax measures reach decade high in 2018

Ballotpedia covers all local tax measures in California. We also track ballot measure trends related to business, hotel, utility, parcel, and sales taxes. The total number of tax measures in all five of these categories was 333 in 2018, compared to 239 in 2016. This bump in tax measures represented a 39 percent increase. The number was even lower in 2014 when there were 182 measures in the five tax categories.
Numbers for business tax measures (102), hotel tax measures (43), and parcel tax measures (90) on local California ballots in 2018 were the highest in a decade. The majority of all business tax measures were marijuana business taxes.
The number of sales tax measures in 2018 (82) was only surpassed once in the past decade; in 2016, there were 100 sales tax measures on local ballots. The number of utility tax measures in 2018 was the lowest for all even-numbered years in the past decade.
Including various other types of tax-related measures, tax measures represented 48 percent of all local ballot measures in California in 2018.

RNC outraised and outspent DNC by almost a two-to-one margin in 2018

The Republican National Committee (RNC) raised over $184 million in the first eleven months of 2018, as reported on its post-general election report filed with the Federal Election Commission (FEC). In comparison, the Democratic National Committee (DNC) raised $104.5 million during that same period.
The RNC spent almost twice as much as the DNC through the end of November 2018, with disbursements of over $196 million. The DNC reported disbursements of just under $101 million over the same period. From July 1 to November 26, 2018, the RNC spent $127.5 million and the DNC spent $59.5 million.
As of November 26, 2018, the RNC reported having $27 million in cash on hand and no debts owed. The DNC reported having just over $10 million as of the end of the cycle, with about $3 million of debt.

469 state legislators lost in 2018, the most since 2012

Four hundred sixty-nine incumbent state legislators lost in 2018 primaries or general elections out of the 4,952 legislators that filed for re-election.
The 469 losses were the most since 2012 when 488 legislators were defeated.
Overall, the losses include:
  • 119 Democrats
  • 330 Republicans
  • 20 third party or independent legislators
In the November 6 general election, 322 incumbents lost. This was the highest number of general election losses since 2010, when 502 incumbents were defeated. 2018’s general election losses included:
  • 49 Democrats
  • 253 Republicans
  • 20 third party or independent legislators.
In the primaries, 147 incumbents lost, including 70 Democrats and 77 Republicans. In the last four election cycles (2010-2016), only 2012 saw more incumbents lose their primaries—194.
Democrats’ 119 incumbent losses was their lowest number since before 2010, while Republicans’ 330 losses was their highest number since 2012. Democrats lost 538 incumbents in 2010, 137 incumbents in 2012, 272 in 2014, and 165 in 2016. Republicans lost 70 incumbents in 2010, 347 in 2012, 125 in 2014, and 187 in 2016.

Forty-six percent of federal and state legislators were successful in bids for other offices in 2018

Twenty-one members of the U.S. House of Representatives and 472 state legislators ran for other elected positions in 2018. Nine (43 percent) House members won election to statewide office, while 217 (46 percent) state legislators successfully won election to a new position.
Democratic House members were more successful in their runs than Republicans. Of the 10 Democratic House members who sought statewide office, six (60 percent) won in the general election, while only three of 11 (27 percent) Republican House members won their election.
Among state legislators, Republicans were more successful. Forty-eight percent (131 out of 274) of Republican state legislators who ran for another office won election to a new position, while 44 percent (82 out of 185) of Democratic state legislators who ran for another office were successful.
For more information, including a listing of the U.S. House members who ran for statewide office and a state-by-state breakdown of the results of state legislators who ran for other offices in 2018, click here:,_2018