Tagelection results

Jill Underly, Deborah Kerr advance from Wisconsin superintendent of public instruction primary

The statewide spring primary for Wisconsin was held on Feb. 16, 2021. If two or fewer candidates filed for each seat on the ballot, the primary was canceled and the candidates automatically advanced to the general election on April 6.

The primary for the Wisconsin superintendent of public instruction was the only statewide nonpartisan race on the ballot. Incumbent Carolyn Stanford Taylor did not file to run for election. Taylor was first appointed to the position in January 2019 by Gov. Tony Evers (D), who resigned the seat after being elected governor in 2018. Seven candidates filed to run in the race. According to unofficial results, the highest number of votes went to Jill Underly (27.3%) and Deborah Kerr (26.5%). Both candidates advanced to the general election.

Two partisan state legislative special elections were on the otherwise nonpartisan ballot. 

Wisconsin state Senate District 13 became vacant on Jan. 1 after Scott Fitzgerald (R) was elected to the U.S. House. One Democrat, three Republicans, and two independent candidates filed for the seat. John Jagler defeated Todd Menzel and Don Pridemore in the Republican primary, receiving 57.1% of the unofficial vote. He faces Melissa Winker (D), Ben Schmitz (American Solidarity Party), and Spencer Zimmerman (Trump Conservative Party) in the general election.

State Assembly District 89 became vacant on Dec. 2, 2020, after John Nygren (R) resigned his seat to work in the private sector. One Democrat and five Republicans filed for the seat. Elijah Behnke won the Republican primary with 44.5% of the unofficial vote. He faces Karl Jaeger (D) in the general election.

The general election ballot will feature more offices, including three state appellate court seats and local nonpartisan seats.

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Anthony Brindisi (D) concedes in New York’s 22nd Congressional District election

Incumbent Anthony Brindisi (D) conceded the election to represent New York’s 22nd Congressional District on Feb. 8, 2021, to Claudia Tenney (R). His concession follows several months of legal challenges from Brindisi and Tenney over the validity of certain absentee and affidavit ballots cast in the Nov. 3, 2020, election.

Brindisi announced his concession hours after the New York Board of Elections voted to certify the results of the election. Tenney led by 109 votes.

In a statement, Brindisi said: “Today I congratulated Claudia Tenney and offered to make the transition process as smooth as possible on behalf of our community. […] It is time to close the book on this election and focus on building a better community and more united country for our children.”

Tenney responded to Brindisi’s Feb. 8 concession in a tweet: “I really appreciate Anthony’s call today and thank him for his service. He graciously offered to help ensure a smooth transition and I look forward to working with him over the coming days to complete that process on behalf of everyone in NY22.”

To read more about the legal proceedings in New York’s 22nd Congressional District, click here.



Ben Robbins wins Alabama House District 33 special election

Ben Robbins (R) won the special general election for the District 33 seat in the Alabama House of Representatives on January 19, 2021. Robbins defeated Fred Crum, who was nominated by the Alabama Democratic Party to run in the special general election after Democratic primary winner Terra Foster withdrew from the race. Unofficial results from the state show Robbins won by a margin of 68% to 32%.

The seat became vacant after former incumbent Ronald Johnson (R) passed away on July 14, 2020. Johnson had held the District 33 seat since 1978. Once he is sworn in, Robbins will serve the remaining two years of Johnson’s term.

Alabama has a Republican state government trifecta. A trifecta exists when one political party simultaneously holds the governor’s office and majorities in both state legislative chambers. As of January 20, there were 23 Republican trifectas, 15 Democratic trifectas, and 12 divided governments where neither party held trifecta control. In the 2020 election, Republicans had a net gain of two trifectas, and two states under divided government became trifectas.

As of January 2021, 23 state legislative special elections have been scheduled for 2021 in 16 states. Between 2011 and 2019, an average of 77 special elections took place each year.

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Decade-low 227 state legislative incumbents defeated on Nov. 3

In the November 2020 general election, 227 state legislative incumbents were defeated, the lowest number in any even-numbered year in the past decade. By party, those defeated incumbents include 165 Democrats, 52 Republicans, and 10 independents and members of a third party.

The 227 incumbents defeated marked a 29.5% decrease from the 322 defeated in 2018 and was 54.8% lower than the decade-high 502 incumbents defeated in the 2010 general election.

By party, a larger number of Democrats were defeated in the 2020 general election compared to Republicans. This was the fourth cycle since 2010 where the number of incumbent Democrats defeated exceeded that of Republicans. The number of incumbent Republicans defeated in general elections exceeded Democrats’ in the 2012 and 2018 state legislative elections.

The chart below shows the number of incumbents defeated in general elections since 2010 broken down by party affiliation.

Incumbents defeated in the general election represent one part of Ballotpedia’s calculation of total incumbent turnover, which measures the number of seats that will be held by newcomers in 2021. The other components of the calculation are incumbents defeated in primaries and incumbents who retired.

Incumbent turnover in 2020 reached a decade-low 1,247, meaning, overall, state legislatures will see the lowest number of newcomers since before 2010.

By party, incumbent turnover was 621 for Democrats and 626 for Republicans, the smallest gap between the two parties over the preceding decade. A greater number of Republicans were defeated in primaries than Democrats. Both Democrats and Republicans saw their lowest numbers of retirement since at least 2010 at 396 and 480, respectively.

The table below shows turnover figures from 2010 to 2020. The rightmost column shows the decade average for each metric.

For additional analyses and a full list of defeated incumbents, click here.



Election still undecided in New York’s 22nd Congressional District

Results in the Nov. 3 U.S. House election in New York’s 22nd Congressional District have not yet been certified. The latest vote count, completed on Dec. 30, showed former Rep. Claudia Tenney (R) with a 29-vote lead over incumbent Anthony Brindisi (D). This race was one of 56 U.S. House rematches from 2018, when Brindisi defeated Tenney 51% to 49%.

Litigation over the validity of certain absentee and affidavit ballots began the day following the election and is ongoing. Problems with mislaid ballots, missing documentation of ballot challenges, and errors in vote tabulation slowed the process.

Oswego County Supreme Court Justice Scott DelConte has not made a final ruling on these issues, and official results have not been certified. DelConte also asked both campaigns to file legal briefs by Jan. 14 on 2,418 voter registration applications submitted through the Department of Motor Vehicles that the county board of elections did not process before election day. These voters had the option to cast an affidavit ballot, but these ballots weren’t counted since it appeared the voters weren’t registered. At least 63 affidavit ballots from this group are being reviewed.

Final oral arguments on all court proceedings in the case are scheduled for Jan. 22.

Here are some other recent elections where the result was not confirmed until weeks after the elections:

  1. In 2018, the North Carolina Board of Elections did not certify the results in the 9th Congressional District race and voted unanimously to call for a new election on Feb. 21, 2019. Rep. Dan Bishop (R) won the special election on Sept. 10, 2019. 
  2. In the 2016 North Carolina governor’s race, incumbent Pat McCrory (R) conceded on Dec. 5, 2016, after a recount in Durham County verified that Roy Cooper (D) would remain ahead. 
  3. In 2014, Martha McSally (R) was declared the winner over incumbent Ron Barber (D) in Arizona’s 2nd Congressional District at the conclusion of a recount on Dec. 17, 2014.



315 state legislative seats flipped partisan control in the November 2020 elections

On Nov. 3, 2020, 5,875 state legislative seats were up for regularly scheduled elections across 86 of the nation’s 99 state legislative chambers. As a result of the election, control of 315 seats flipped from one party to another.

Republicans gained a net 141 seats, Democrats lost a net 133 seats, and independent and third party candidates lost a net eight seats. At least one seat flipped parties in every state holding regularly scheduled state legislative elections except Hawaii.

Of the 315 seats that changed party control, 215 (68.3%) were Democratic seats that went to Republicans. Seventy-eight (24.8%) were Republican seats that went to Democrats.

The table below shows the total number of state legislative seats that flipped partisan control during the 2020 state legislative elections. Columns show the number of seats that flipped to the given partisan affiliation listed in the top row. Rows show the number of seats that flipped from the given partisan affiliation listed in the leftmost column.

There was a 38% decrease in flipped state legislative seats compared to 2018, which saw 508 flips. Democrats flipped 80% fewer seats from Republicans in 2020 compared to 2018. Republicans saw a 131.2% increase in flipped Democratic seats. The table below shows the total number of flipped seats in both years and the number of seats flipped between major parties.

Fifty seats flipped party control in New Hampshire, the most of any state. Forty-nine of those seats flipped to Republicans—48 from Democrats and one from a Libertarian. One seat flipped from Republican to Democrat. As a result, both chambers of the New Hampshire General Court changed from Democratic to Republican control.

The map below shows states shaded to reflect the number of seats that changed party control in 2020. Darker shades indicate a larger number of flips. States shown in gray did not hold regularly scheduled state legislative elections in 2020.

To see more analysis and the full list of state legislative seats that flipped partisan control following the 2020 elections: Election results, 2020: State legislative seats that changed party control, Overview



Republican incumbent re-elected to Public Service Commission in Georgia’s statewide runoff election

District 4 Commissioner Lauren “Bubba” McDonald Jr. (R) won re-election to Georgia’s Public Service Commission (PSC) on Tuesday, January 5, 2021. He defeated challenger Daniel Blackman (D) with 50.6% of the vote, according to unofficial results posted on January 7. There were 4.40 million votes cast in the race.

The runoff was held after no candidates received a majority of the vote in the general election on November 3, 2020. McDonald received the highest number of votes in that race, winning 49.9% of the 4.84 million votes cast, roughly 0.1 percentage points below what he needed in order to win the election outright. Blackman received 47.0% of the vote, and Libertarian candidate Nathan Wilson received 3.1% of the vote.

While the PSC race had the lowest total votes of the night, McDonald received the third-highest number of votes (2.22 million votes), behind U.S. Senate challengers Raphael Warnock (D) (2.26 million) and Jon Ossoff (D) (2.24 million). Both Sen. Kelly Loeffler (R) (2.19 million) and Sen. David Perdue (R) (2.20 million) received fewer votes than McDonald. Each U.S. Senate race saw approximately 4.45 million total votes.

The Georgia Public Service Commission is responsible for regulating Georgia’s public utilities—that is, electric, gas, telecommunications, and transportation firms—and is composed of five popularly elected members who serve staggered, six-year terms.

Georgia has a Republican trifecta. A state government trifecta exists when one political party simultaneously holds the governor’s office and both state legislative chambers.

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Democrats win control of U.S. Senate

Democrats won control of the U.S. Senate following two runoff elections in Georgia on January 5. Jon Ossoff (D) defeated David Perdue (R) in the regular runoff election. Raphael Warnock defeated Kelly Loeffler (R) in the special runoff election.

As of 5 p.m. Wednesday, Ossoff had 50.3% of the vote to Perdue’s 49.7%. Perdue was elected in 2014, and his term ended on January 3, 2021. 

In the special election, Warnock had 50.7% of the vote to Loeffler’s 49.3%. Gov. Brian Kemp (R) appointed Loeffler after Johnny Isakson (R) resigned at the end of 2019 for health reasons. Warnock will serve the remaining two years of the term Isakson won in 2016.

Once sworn in after runoff results are certified, Ossoff and Warnock will bring the Democratic caucus to 50 members, splitting the chamber with 50 Republicans. The vice president—Kamala Harris (D) as of January 20, 2021—has the tie-breaking vote in the chamber. Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger (R) has until January 22 to certify runoff results.

Democrats last controlled the Senate from 2007 to 2015. Democrats currently hold a majority of 222-211 in the U.S. House.

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In five elections since 1920, the winning presidential candidate’s party has lost seats in the U.S. House

On Dec. 14, 2020, the Electoral College cast votes for president and vice president of the United States. Joe Biden (D) won 306 electoral votes, defeating President Donald Trump (R) who won 232. In the same 2020 election cycle, Biden’s Democratic party lost 13 U.S. House seats (one race remains uncalled). How many times has a winning presidential candidate’s party lost U.S. House seats in modern American history?

Since 1920, there have been five presidential election years where where the winning presidential candidate’s party lost U.S. House seats. In all of these cases, the party that lost seats in the House maintained the majority it had going into the election.

The greatest loss of seats in the House by a party that won the presidency happened in 1960. That year, John F. Kennedy (D) won the White House for Democrats and the party lost 21 House seats.

The three other cases all occurred after 1990:

  1. In 1992, Bill Clinton (D) won the White House and the Democratic Party lost nine seats in the House.
  2. In 2000, George W. Bush (R) won the White House and the Republican Party lost two seats in the House.
  3. In 2016, Donald Trump (R) won the White House and the Republican Party lost six seats in the House.

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Biden wins all six Reverse-Pivot Counties that voted McCain-Romney-Clinton

Following the 2016 presidential election, Ballotpedia identified six Reverse-Pivot Counties that voted for Hillary Clinton (D) in 2016 after voting for John McCain (R) in 2008 and Mitt Romney (R) in 2012. 

All six of 2016’s Reverse-Pivot Counties voted for Biden in 2020.

These counties have a median population of 785,915. Voters there cast 4,015,613 ballots, representing 2.5% of all votes cast in the 2020 presidential election. All six are located in or near major metropolitan areas: Los Angeles, Atlanta, Baltimore, and Houston.

As of Dec. 11, Joe Biden (D) won all six of 2016’s Reverse-Pivot Counties by an average margin of 14.54 percentage points, roughly triple Clinton’s average margin of 4.96 in 2016.

The shift represents a continuing trend in these counties from supporting Republican presidential candidates towards supporting Democrats. Since 2008, when McCain won these counties, margins of victory have shifted 20.18 percentage points from Republicans to Democrats, on average.