Welcome to the Thursday, November 10, Brew.
By: Samuel Wonacott
Here’s what’s in store for you as you start your day:
- A roundup of election results from key state-level races
- Walker, Warnock advance to Dec. 6 runoff election
A roundup of election results from key state-level races
Now we’re able to return to your inboxes having gotten some sleep. Ever since the first polls closed Tuesday night, the country’s attention has focused on critical battleground races for governor, U.S. Senate, and U.S. House. Some of those elections remain uncalled..
Today, we’re stepping back from the headline-grabbing elections to bring you results and analysis from five key—but often overlooked—areas of politics that we’ve been closely tracking this election cycle: state legislatures, state financial officers, state supreme courts, secretaries of state, and attorneys general.
Let’s jump right in.
Key takeaway: Democrats gain four chambers and two trifectas; Republicans expand margins in several states.
Legislators in 88 of the country’s 99 state chambers were up for election last night, accounting for 6,278 of the country’s 7,383 state legislative seats. In primaries this year, 4.7% of incumbents who filed for re-election lost to challengers, including 69 Democratic incumbents and 160 Republican incumbents. In the 2020 general elections, 4.7% of incumbents who filed for re-election lost to challengers. Keep that number in mind, because we’ll be back in the coming days with this year’s figures.
Here’s how Democrats did: Democrats gained control of four chambers, creating new trifectas in Michigan and Minnesota. Both states previously had divided governments. In total, Democrats gained at least four trifectas. In addition to Michigan and Minnesota, Democrats also gained trifectas in Maryland and Massachusetts where the party maintained legislative majorities but gained control of governorships.
- In Michigan, Democrats won a majority in the House and at least 19 seats in the 38-member Senate, with a tie-breaking vote going to Lt. Gov. Garlin Gilchrest (D). Democrats last held a trifecta in Michigan in 1983.
- In Minnesota, Democrats maintained a majority in the House and gained a majority in the Senate. Democrats last held a trifecta in Minnesota in 2014.
Here’s how Republicans did: While Republicans have not yet gained control of any new chambers this cycle, the party has expanded its control in several states. In Florida, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Wisconsin, Republicans gained veto-proof majorities in at least one chamber
- In Florida, Republicans gained veto-proof majorities in both the House and Senate.
- In North Carolina, Republicans gained a veto-proof majority in the Senate. In the House, the party won 71 seats, one shy of the veto-proof threshold.
- In South Carolina, Republicans gained a veto-proof majority in the House. The party also came one seat away from winning a veto-proof majority in the Senate.
- In Wisconsin, Republicans gained a veto-proof majority in the Senate.
Here’s a breakdown of the changes we know so far:
With four chambers changing party control, this cycle has surpassed 2020, when only two chambers—the New Hampshire House and Senate—changed hands, going from Democrats to Republicans.
Learn more about state legislative election results here.
State supreme courts
Key takeaway: Republicans win control of one state supreme court—three of 70 seats up for election change party control.
Twenty-five states held state supreme court elections last night, accounting for 70 (20%) of the nation’s 344 supreme court seats. Heading into the elections, Republicans had majorities on 26 state supreme courts, Democrats controlled 17, and control of the nine remaining courts was either split between parties or unclear.
Here’s how Republicans did: Republicans gained two seats on the Democratically-controlled North Carolina Supreme Court, flipping the court to Republican control.
Here’s how Democrats did: A Democrat won a seat in Illinois currently held by a Republican.
Overall, Democrats will hold majorities on 16 courts, Republicans will hold majorities on 27, and the remaining nine courts’ majorities will either be split between parties or unclear. (Texas and Oklahoma both have two courts of last resort.)
Two incumbent justice lost a re-election campaign last night. In North Carolina, Trey Allen (R) defeated Justice Sam Ervin IV (D). Mary O’Brien (D) defeated Justice Michael Burke (R) in Illinois.
Most state supreme courts are officially nonpartisan. In June 2020, Ballotpedia conducted a nationwide study to determine each state supreme court justice’s affiliation with one of the two major political parties. Those findings were used for this analysis.
For the partisan labels of justices who assumed office after that study was published, factors considered include, but are not limited to: whether the justice previously held office with a party label, trifecta status at the time of appointment, and whether the justice donated to candidates from a certain party.
Click here to follow updates and learn more about state supreme court election results.
Key takeaway: Partisan balance of state attorneys general remains unchanged (so far).
Heading into the election, Republicans controlled 28 offices, the party’s largest number in more than three decades. Voters decided who would control 34 of 50 state attorney general offices last night. Thirty offices were up for election, and four offices’ appointment authorities were on the ballot.
Here’s how Republicans did: Republicans gained one office that Democrats currently hold in Iowa.
Here’s how Democrats did: Democrats gained one office that Republicans currently hold in Vermont.
Two elections remain uncalled: the Republican-controlled office in Arizona and the Democratic-controlled office in Nevada. Alaska’s governor appoints the state attorney general with confirmation from the state legislature, and that state’s gubernatorial election is also uncalled. If none of three uncalled races change party control, the nationwide partisan balance of attorneys general will remain the same at 22 Democrats and 28 Republicans.
Click here to follow updates and learn more about attorneys general election results.
Secretaries of state
Key takeaway: Democrats gain control of one secretary of state office so far.
Heading into the election, Democrats controlled 20 secretaries of state offices, while Republicans controlled 27. The position does not exist in Alaska, Hawaii and Utah. Voters decided who would control 35 of the country’s 47 secretary of state offices yesterday. Twenty-seven offices were up for election, and eight offices’ appointment authorities were on the ballot.
Democrats won the governorship in Maryland, which currently has a Republican secretary of state, giving the Democrats appointment control. Among contested elections, no secretary of state positions changed partisan control.
Five offices remain uncalled: the Democratic-controlled offices in Arizona, Washington, and Wisconsin, and the Republican-controlled office in Nevada. New Hampshire’s secretary of state, elected jointly by both chambers of the state legislature, is also unknown.
The high water mark for a party controlling secretary of state offices since 1992 was in 2017 when there were 30 Republican secretaries.
All but 11 secretaries of state either certify election results, oversee election administration, or both. With four uncalled offices remaining, Democrats control 13 offices that oversee election administration and Republicans oversee 19.
Click here to follow updates and learn more about secretaries of state election results.
State financial officers
Key takeaway: Republicans make gains in state financial officer races.
State financial officeholders—treasurers, auditors, and comptrollers (or controllers)—are responsible for billions of dollars in state government funds. Heading into the election, Republicans controlled 56 offices, Democrats controlled 42, and officeholders with unclear affiliations held the remaining seven.
Here’s how Republicans did: Republicans gained at least four offices that Democrats currently control, defeating two incumbents in the process.
Here’s how Democrats did: Democrats gained full appointment authority over two offices: Massachusetts, where a Republican appointee’s term is expiring, and Minnesota, where the current appointee’s affiliation is unclear.
Ten races remain uncalled. Six directly elected positions remain uncalled—Democrats currently control five and Republicans control one. Four are appointed positions, where gubernatorial and/or state legislative control remains undetermined. Of the six directly elected positions, Republicans currently lead in two, Democrats lead in one, and three are too close to call.
The table below shows partisan control before and after the election for all 105 state financial officerships, including those that were not decided yesterday.
One area to watch moving forward with respect to these offices: the investment of state funds and environmental, social, and corporate governance (ESG).
Twenty-nine of the 38 offices decided last night are responsible for investing state funds. The map below shows all 38 states where SFOs have that responsibility.
- Republicans gained one office Democrats currently hold with investment responsibilities: Iowa. The party will control at least 18.
- Democrats did not gain any new offices and will control at least 13.
- Control of offices in Alaska, Arizona, Nevada, and New Hampshire remains undecided.
Click here to follow updates and learn more about state financial officeholder elections.
Walker, Warnock advance to Dec. 6 runoff election
Although several U.S. Senate races remain uncalled as of the time of this writing, we now know one thing for sure—election season just got a little longer. On Nov. 9, Georgia election officials declared that incumbent U.S. Sen. Raphael Warnock (D) and Herschel Walker (R) would advance to a Dec. 6 runoff election because neither candidate received more than 50% of the vote.
As of this writing, Warnock led with 49.4% of the vote to Walker’s 48.5%. In the Nov. 8 general election, Libertarian candidate Chase Oliver won 2.1% of the vote.
Depending on what happens in uncalled U.S. Senate elections in Arizona and Nevada, the outcome of the Georgia runoff could determine control of the U.S. Senate. A similar situation occurred in 2021, when Georgia held two runoff elections for the U.S. Senate, both of which Democrats won. The victories gave Democrats effective control of the U.S. Senate (with Vice President Kamala Harris (D) casting tie-breaking votes).
Including the 2021 runoffs, four Senate runoffs have taken place in Georgia. In 2008, Saxby Chambliss (R) won re-election in a runoff. The first Senate runoff occurred in 1992. Incumbent Wyche Fowler (D) lost in the runoff.
Read more about the Dec. 6 runoff at the link below.