TagBP Analysis

Confirmation votes for SCOTUS justices appointed since 1967

President Joe Biden (D) said that he will name his nominee to replace Justice Stephen Breyer on the United States Supreme Court by the end of February. Whoever the nominee is, they are set to be the first to require confirmation from a United States Senate divided 50-50.

Since 1967, when the U.S. Senate held its first roll call confirmation after Hawaii became the 50th state, the Senate has confirmed 20 individuals to the Supreme Court. Of those, Sandra Day O’Connor received the most yes votes (99), and Brett Kavanaugh received the fewest (50). Amy Coney Barrett is the only justice in that time that was confirmed with yes votes from senators belonging to a single party.

The chart below shows the total number of yes votes each Supreme Court justice received in the U.S. Senate since 1967, divided by senators’ party. Blue represents Democratic votes, red represents Republican votes, and grey represents independent or third party votes.


  1. Sandra Day O’Connor (nom. Ronald Reagan (R), 1981) received the most votes (99).
  2. Brett Kavanaugh (nom. Donald Trump (R), 2018) received the fewest votes (50).
  3. John Paul Stevens (nom. Gerald Ford (R), 1975) received the most votes Democratic votes (59).
  4. Amy Coney Barrett (nom. Donald Trump (R), 2020) received the fewest Democratic votes (0).
  5. John Roberts (nom. George W. Bush (R), 2005) received the most Republican votes (55).
  6. Elena Kagan (nom. Barack Obama (D), 2010) received the fewest Republican votes (5).

Among those nominated by Democratic presidents…

  1. Ruth Bader Ginsburg (nom. Bill Clinton, 1993) received the most yes votes (96).
  2. Kagan received the fewest yes votes (63).
  3. Ginsburg received the most Republican votes (41).
  4. Kagan (nom. Obama, 2010) received the fewest Republican votes (5).
  5. Sonia Sotomayor (nom. Obama, 2009) received the most Democratic votes (57).
  6. Thurgood Marshall (nom. Johnson, 1967) received the fewest Democratic votes (37).

Among those nominated by Republican presidents…

  1. O’Connor received the most yes votes (99).
  2. Kavanaugh received the fewest yes votes (50).
  3. Stevens received the most number of Democratic votes (59).
  4. Barrett received the fewest number ofDemocratic votes(0).
  5. Roberts received the most number of Republican votes (55).
  6. Warren Burger (nom. Richard Nixon, 1969) received the fewest Republican votes (36).

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171 state legislative vacancies occurred in 2021

There were 171 state legislative vacancies across 43 states in 2021, according to a Ballotpedia analysis. As of Jan. 6, 2022, 129 of those vacancies have been filled. 

One hundred and twenty-four (124) vacancies occurred in state Houses and 47 occurred in state Senates. Ninety (90) of the vacant seats were originally held by Democrats and 81 were originally held by Republicans.

Seventy-nine (79) vacancies occurred in states that fill vacancies through appointments, 81 occurred in states that fill vacancies through special elections, and 11 occurred in states that fill vacancies through a hybrid system that uses both appointments and special elections.

Arizona had the highest number of vacancies (13), followed by New Hampshire (11) and Oregon (10).

The most common reasons for a state legislative vacancy include an officeholder resigning, dying, leaving for a new job, being elected or appointed to a different office, or receiving a legal conviction. In 2021, Ballotpedia identified 90 state legislative vacancies that were caused by resignations, 52 caused by officeholders being appointed or elected to other offices, 25 caused by deaths, and four caused by removal.

Ballotpedia identified 146 state legislative vacancies in 42 states in 2020 and 177 vacancies in 45 states in 2019.

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Average margin of victory in state legislative general elections in 2021 was 23.6 percent

Three of the nation’s 99 state legislative chambers held regularly-scheduled elections for 220 seats on Nov. 2, 2021. In races where more than one candidate ran in the election, the average margin of victory was 23.6%. The margin of victory is the difference between the share of votes cast for the winning candidate and the second-place candidate in an election.

Major-party candidates won 46 seats by margins of 10% or less; Democrats won 24 of those seats Republicans won 22. That means that 21% of seats up for election were won by a margin of 10% or less.

Three races were decided by a margin of 0.5% or less. In New Jersey General Assembly District 11, the race was decided by a margin of 0.25% (347 votes). In Virginia House of Delegates District 91, the race was decided by a margin of 0.34% (94 votes). In Virginia House of Delegates District 85, the race was decided by a margin of 0.45% (127 votes).

Although there were more than double the seats up in the previous odd-year election, we can compare these numbers to 2019. The average margin of victory for the 538 seats up that year was 26.0%, with 57 seats (10.6%) decided by a margin of 10% or less. Two races that year were decided by a margin of 0.5% or less.

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Ballotpedia’s year-end analysis of statewide ballot measures

On Dec. 17, Ballotpedia published its year-end analysis of the 39 statewide ballot measures voters decided in 2021. Voters in nine states approved 26 measures and defeated 13 on four different election dates. The year-end analysis drills down into the types and origins of the measures, the outcomes, campaign finance and signature-gathering costs, and ballot language readability. It also provides historical context on all of these details.

Here are some highlights from the analysis:

  1. There were more statewide measures in 2021 than in any odd-numbered year since 2007. On average, there have been 33 in eight states during odd-numbered years since 2011.
  2. State legislatures referred 32 questions to the ballot, of which, voters approved 25 and rejected seven.
  3. Four citizen initiatives were on the ballot in 2021. Three were in Colorado and were all defeated. One was in Maine and was approved.
  4. In 2021, statewide ballot measure campaigns raised $107 million. Support and opposition campaigns for Maine Question 1 raised $99.62 million, which was 93% of the total contributions across statewide measures.
  5. The campaign opposing Maine Question 1 spent $448.61 for every vote against the measure, which is the highest cost per vote (CPV) of any statewide ballot measure campaign since at least 2016.
  6. In total, the campaigns behind the three initiatives in Colorado spent $3.33 million on signature gathering, amounting to an average cost per required signature of $8.42.
  7. The average Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level readability score for the ballot titles of all 39 statewide ballot measures was 18 (second-year graduate school reading level).

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86% of incumbents were successful in their Nov. bid for re-election

In the 2021 general election, an average of 85.54% of incumbents nationwide won their re-election bids. The number drops to 82.35% when including incumbents that withdrew or were disqualified.

In 2020, 93% of incumbents won their elections. In 2019, that number was 90%, and it was 92% in 2018. 

Minnesota incumbents were the least successful in 2021 with a win rate of 55%, followed by Kansas (59%) and Colorado (67%).

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Six of 11 wave elections in the U.S. House took place during a president’s first midterm election

The term wave election is frequently used to describe an election cycle in which one party makes significant electoral gains. With the 2022 Congressional elections approaching, the question of what qualifies as a wave election is once again gaining significance.

In a 2018 study, we examined the results of the 50 election cycles that occurred between 1918 and 2016—spanning from President Woodrow Wilson’s (D) second midterm in 1918 to Donald Trump’s (R) first presidential election in 2016. We defined wave elections as the 20 percent of elections in that period resulting in the greatest seat swings against the president’s party.

According to this definition, a U.S. House election cycle qualifies as a wave election if the president’s party loses at least 48 seats.

Between 1918 and 2016, 11 wave elections took place in the U.S. House. Six of these waves occurred during a president’s first midterm election. These six occurred under four Democratic presidents (Obama, Clinton, Johnson, and Truman) and two Republican presidents (Harding and Hoover). The president’s party lost an average of 58 seats in the U.S. House during these six elections.

As of Dec. 2, 2021, Democrats held 221 seats in the U.S. House. A wave election would result in them controlling no more than 173 seats in the chamber. Since the House grew to 435 seats in 1913, Democrats have held fewer than 173 seats twice: 131 during the 67th Congress (1921-1923) and 164 during the 71st Congress (1929-1931).

The 2018 U.S. House elections were the most recent first midterm election under President Donald Trump (R). Democrats won a majority in the chamber by gaining a net of 40 seats. The 2018 midterm election fell eight seats short of qualifying as a wave election.

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Major party campaign committees raise $63 million in October

Six party committees have raised a combined $662 million over the first ten months of the 2022 election cycle. In October, the committees raised $63 million, according to recent filings with the Federal Election Commission.

The Republican National Committee (RNC) raised and spent more than the Democratic National Committee (DNC) in October. The RNC raised $13.8 million and spent $16.5 million, while the DNC raised $11.5 million and spent $13.0 million. So far in the 2022 election cycle, the RNC has raised 2.7% more than the DNC ($136.7 million to $133.0 million).

At this time in the 2020 election cycle, the RNC led the DNC in fundraising by a larger 89.0% margin ($194.0 million to $74.5 million).

The National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC) raised $9.0 million and spent $7.1 million in October, while the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee (DSCC) raised $7.0 million and spent $4.5 million. The NRSC has raised 13.8% more than the DSCC so far in the 2022 election cycle ($85.2 million to $74.2 million). October was the seventh consecutive month where the NRCC outraised the DSCC.

The House committees raised more than their Senate counterparts last month, with the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) raising $11.7 million and spending $6.8 million and the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) raising $9.8 million and spending $7.1 million. So far in the 2022 election cycle, the DCCC has raised 2.8% more than the NRCC ($118.2 million to $114.8 million). This was the fourth consecutive month where the DCCC outraised the NRCC.

At this point in the 2020 election cycle, the NRSC also led the DSCC in fundraising by 8.8%($54.4 million to $49.8 million). The DCCC also led the NRCC in total fundraising by 38.4% ($101.3 million to $70.4 million).

So far in the 2022 election cycle, the RNC, NRSC, and NRCC have raised 3.4% more than the  DNC, DSCC, and DCCC ($336.7 million to $325.4 million). The Republican committees’ fundraising advantage is up from 3.0% last month.

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October 2021 breakdown of state legislative party membership: 54.11% Republicans, 44.71% Democrats

54.11% of all state legislators are Republicans and 44.71% are Democrats, according to Ballotpedia’s October partisan count of the 7,383 state legislators.

Ballotpedia tallies the partisan balance of state legislatures at the end of every month. This refers to which political party holds the majority of seats in each chamber. Republicans control 61 chambers, while Democrats hold 37. The Alaska House of Representatives is the only chamber to be organized under a multipartisan, power-sharing coalition.

Nationally, the state legislatures include 1,957 state senators and 5,379 state representatives. Democrats hold 864 state Senate seats and 2,437 state House seats, a gain of three state Senate seats and a loss of one state House seat. Republicans hold 3,995 of the 7,383 total state legislative seats—1,086 state Senate seats (five fewer than September) and 2,909 state House seats (a decrease of three).

Independent or third-party legislators hold 40 seats, of which 33 are state House seats and seven are state Senate seats. There are 47 vacant seats.

Since our last partisan count, Democrats saw a net increase of two seats, while Republicans saw a net decrease of eight seats. 

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How Clallam County’s cities vote in presidential elections

There is one county in America that has, since 1980, voted for the winning presidential candidate—Clallam County, Wa. The county’s 40-year record of voting for Republican and Democratic candidates reflects its political diversity. In Clallam County, elections, especially federal and state elections, tend to be closely decided. In 2020 and 2016, for example, Joe Biden (D) and Donald Trump (R) won the county by a margin of 3.37% and 2.28%, respectively. In 2012, voters in Clallam favored Barack Obama (D) over Mitt Romney (R) by a margin of .38%.

At the county level, Clallam’s political leanings can be hard to decipher. Precinct-level voting data reveal the county’s three cities—Port Angeles, Sequim, and Forks—and assorted unincorporated areas exhibit partisan voting patterns.

For this analysis, we sorted the county’s 68 voter precincts into four groups—those in Port Angeles, Sequim, and Forks, and those in unincorporated areas.

Clallam County had an estimated population of around 76,770 in 2020. Port Angeles, the county seat, had a population of around 20,000, while Sequim had a population of about 7,600. Forks had a population of about 3,862.

Overall, in the last four presidential elections, Port Angeles and Sequim have leaned Democratic, while Forks has shown a strong preference for Republican candidates. The rest of the county has narrowly favored Republican candidates.

  1. In 2020 in Port Angeles, Biden won 54.678% of the vote to Trump’s 41.16%. In Sequim, Biden won 56.77% to Trump’s 41.21%. In Forks, Trump won 65.36% to Biden’s 31.96%. Trump won the rest of the county by a margin of .77%. 
  2. In 2016 in Port Angeles, Hillary Clinton (D) won 49.42% of the vote to Trump’s 41.47%. In Sequim, Clinton won 48.99% to Trump’s 43.96%. In Forks, Trump won 59.98% to 30.58%. The rest of the county favored Trump over Clinton by a margin of 6.94%.
  3. In 2012 in Port Angeles, Obama won 54.88% of the vote to Romney’s 42.01%. In Sequim, Romney won 48.96% to Obama’s 48.65%. In Forks, Romney won 55.88% to Obama’s 40.51%. Romney won the rest of the county by a margin of 3.49%.
  4. In 2008 in Port Angeles, Obama won 55.71% to John McCain’s (R) 41.85%. In Sequim, Obama won 50.24% to McCain’s 47.52%. In Forks, McCain won 56.31% to Obama’s 40.19%. Obama won the rest of the county by a margin of .13%.

Clallam County is holding municipal elections in its three cities—Port Angeles, Sequim, and Forks— in 2021. Twenty-six offices are up for election in those cities.

Major party competition reaches a decade-high in the 2021 state legislative elections

The percentage of state legislative seats being contested by both major parties in 2021 is higher than at any point in the past decade, according to a Ballotpedia analysis of candidate filings. Of the 220 seats up for election in New Jersey and Virginia, 93% are set to feature a Democrat versus a Republican on the general election ballot this November. Of the remaining 15 seats, ten will likely be won by Democrats since they have no Republican competitors and five will likely be won by Republicans.

This is the first state legislative election cycle since at least 2010 where more than 90% of state legislative seats up for election nationwide were contested by both major parties. This increase in major party competition was largely driven by an increased level of competitiveness in the Virginia House of Delegates over the past decade. 

In 2011, less than half of the seats in the chamber were contested by both major parties. In 2021, 93% of seats featured major party competition, an increase of 52 percentage points over the decade. The chamber began trending more competitive in 2017 when Democrats contested 57% more seats than they had in 2015. Both parties continued to increase their numbers of contested seats in 2019 and 2021.

By comparison, state legislative elections in New Jersey have tended to feature higher levels of major party competition throughout the decade. At least 90% of seats have been contested by both major parties in each election cycle from 2011 to 2021 in both the Senate and General Assembly.

In the Senate, which saw its decade-high number of uncontested seats in 2021, the rate of major party competition remained above 92%.

In the General Assembly, Democrats have contested every seat since 2017. The highest number of uncontested seats in the chamber came in 2015 when eight seats, or 10%, were effectively guaranteed to one of the two major parties.

Major party competition refers to the percentage of state legislative seats where voters have the ability to choose between one of the two major parties: Democrats or Republicans. These figures are subject to change ahead of the November general elections as candidates of either party may still drop out. Ballotpedia will continue to provide updates throughout the election cycle.

Major party competition is one component of Ballotpedia’s annual state legislative competitiveness study, which also includes analyses of incumbents in contested primaries and open seats.

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