Tagpartisanship

Control of Alaska House of Representatives remains uncertain after Alaska Supreme Court decision

The Alaska Supreme Court confirmed Alaska Representative Lance Pruitt’s (R) 11-vote loss to Democratic challenger Liz Snyder on Friday, January 8. The court ruled that Pruitt did not provide sufficient evidence to sustain his challenge of the election results.

Pruitt’s loss means that control of the chamber will likely remain uncertain until at least January 19, when lawmakers will convene in Juneau for the start of the legislative session. As a result of this decision, the Alaska House of Representatives is currently split between a 20-member Republican faction and a multi-partisan coalition of 16 Democrats (including Snyder), three independents, and Republican Louise Stutes. Had Pruitt won, it could have given the Republican wing of the House the 21 votes needed to control the chamber.

Pruitt’s lawsuit centered on the argument that the state did not adequately notify the public when the Alaska Division of Elections moved a polling location and that the Division of Elections did not provide suitable election security in regard to absentee ballots. Pruitt’s attorney in the case, Stacey Stone, said that Pruitt will not pursue any further action to contest the results of the election. “The integrity of our election system serves as the foundation of our government. We respect the decision of the court today, but we hope the Division (of Elections) addresses the issues that occurred in Precinct 915 so that these type of events do not occur in the future, and that all voters constitutional rights are guaranteed. We await the supreme court’s full opinion as to how they addressed the multiple points on appeal,” Stone said. After the verdict was announced, Snyder said, “It was great to see that come out the way we anticipated it.”

Although Republicans won a 23-16 majority with one independent in the 2018 elections, a coalition of 15 Democrats, four Republicans, and two independents elected Bryce Edgmon (I) as House speaker on February 14, 2019. The parties split control of key leadership positions and committees and Edgmon was elected speaker after leaving the Democratic Party. The House majority consisted of 15 Democrats, eight Republicans, and two members unaffiliated with either party. Of the eight Republicans who joined the majority coalition in 2018, only Steve M. Thompson and Louise Stutes were re-elected in 2020.

Eighty-six of 99 state legislative chambers across 44 states held general elections on November 3, 2020. Heading into the 2020 elections, Republicans had majorities in 59 chambers and Democrats had majorities in 39 chambers. Partisan control flipped in two chambers—Republicans gained majorities in the New Hampshire House of Representatives and the New Hampshire State Senate.

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Mayoral partisanship control changed in 2020’s elections in seven of the 100 largest cities

Mayoral elections were held in 29 of the 100 largest U.S. cities in 2020. Seven party changes took place as a result of these elections. Five offices held by Republican incumbents and two offices held by Democratic incumbents changed partisan control:

  • Scottsdale, Arizona: Independent David Ortega won the open seat. Incumbent Jim Lane (R) was term-limited.
  • Irvine, California: Democrat Farrah Khan defeated incumbent Christina Shea (R).
  • San Diego, California: Democrat Todd Gloria won the open seat. The incumbent, Kevin Faulconer (R), was term-limited.
  • Stockton, California: Republican Kevin Lincoln II defeated incumbent Michael Tubbs (D).
  • Honolulu, Hawaii: Independent Rick Blangiardi won the open seat. Democratic mayor Kirk Caldwell was term-limited.
  • El Paso, Texas: Democrat Oscar Leeser defeated incumbent Donald Margo (R).
  • Corpus Christi, Texas: Nonpartisan Paulette Guajardo defeated incumbent Joe McComb (R).

In 15 of the 29 cities that held elections in 2020, the incumbent was Republican at the start of 2020. Twelve incumbents were Democratic, one was independent, and one was nonpartisan. Due to the number of seats up for election held by each party, the Republican Party was in a greater position of relative risk than the Democratic Party, when considering the number of mayoral offices each party will hold once mayors elected in 2020 are sworn in. More than half of the cities with Republican mayors at the start of the year held elections in 2020.

Democratic mayors oversaw 64 of the 100 largest cities at the beginning of 2020, 61 at the start of 2019, 63 at the start of 2018, 64 at the beginning of 2017, and 67 at the start of 2016.

In most of the nation’s largest cities, mayoral elections are officially nonpartisan, though many officeholders and candidates are affiliated with political parties. Ballotpedia uses one or more of the following sources to identify each officeholder’s partisan affiliation: (1) direct communication from the officeholder, (2) current or previous candidacy for partisan office, or (3) identification of partisan affiliation by multiple media outlets.

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November 2020 breakdown of state legislative party membership—52.4% Republicans, 46.6% Democrats

According to Ballotpedia’s November partisan count of the 7,383 state legislators across the United States, 46.58% of all state legislators are Democrats and 52.39% are Republicans.

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. Prior to the general election, Republicans held a majority in 59 chambers and Democrats held a majority in 39 chambers. Alaska’s state House was the only chamber to have a power-sharing agreement between the two parties. Since the election, Republicans flipped two chambers, the New Hampshire state House and state Senate (effective Dec. 2), while control of Alaska’s state House and state Senate remained undetermined as of Nov. 30. 

Nationally, the state legislatures include 1,972 state senators and 5,411 state representatives. Democrats hold 874 state Senate seats—losing one since October—and 2,565 state House seats, a loss of 15. Republicans hold 3,868 of the 7,383 state legislative seats—1,084 state Senate seats (no change since October) and 2,784 state House seats, an increase of 24. Independent or third-party legislators hold 34 seats, of which 30 are state House seats and four state Senate seats. There are 42 vacant seats.

During the month of November, Democrats saw a net change of -16 seats, while Republicans saw a net change of +24 seats. Some states, for example Alabama, swear new officeholders in during the same month as the general election, while others wait until December or the beginning of a new legislative session in January. The partisan count will likely fluctuate as state legislators are sworn in and out during the next two months.

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Ballotpedia publishes state court partisanship study

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. Ballotpedia Courts: State Partisanship—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 ConfidenceMild Democratic ConfidenceIndeterminate ConfidenceMild Republican Confidence, and Strong Republican Confidence

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:

  1. 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%). 
  2. 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. 
  3. 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. 

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At least four mayoral offices changed partisan control in the 100 largest cities Nov. 3

Twenty-nine of the 100 largest U.S. cities held mayoral elections in 2020. Of the 24 elections called so far, four party changes have taken place, with Republicans losing three offices and Democrats losing one. Democrats and independents each flipped two offices:

• In Honolulu, Hawaii, independent Rick Blangiardi won the open seat. Democratic mayor Kirk Caldwell was term-limited.

• In Irvine, California, Democrat Farrah Khan defeated incumbent Christina Shea (R).

• In San Diego, California, Democrat Todd Gloria won the open seat. The incumbent, Kevin Faulconer (R), was term-limited.

• In Scottsdale, Arizona, independent David Ortega won the open seat. Incumbent Jim Lane (R) was term-limited.

In those four cities—and in most of the nation’s largest cities—mayoral elections are officially nonpartisan, though many officeholders and candidates are affiliated with political parties. Ballotpedia uses one or more of the following sources to identify each officeholder’s partisan affiliation: (1) direct communication from the officeholder, (2) current or previous candidacy for partisan office, or (3) identification of partisan affiliation by multiple media outlets.

Democratic mayors oversaw 64 of the 100 largest cities at the beginning of 2020.

In 15 of the 29 cities that held elections in 2020, the incumbent was Republican at the start of 2020. Twelve incumbents were Democratic, one was independent, and one was nonpartisan.

Mayoral races in Riverside and Stockton, California, remain undecided. December runoff elections for mayor will be held in Baton Rouge, Louisiana (Dec. 5); Corpus Christi, Texas (Dec. 12); and El Paso, Texas (Dec. 15).

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September 2020 breakdown of state legislative party membership: 52.0% Republicans, 46.8% Democrats

According to Ballotpedia’s September partisan count of the 7,383 state legislators across the United States, 52.01% of all state legislators are Republicans and 46.77% are Democrats.

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 hold a majority in 59 chambers and Democrats hold a majority in 39 chambers. Alaska’s chamber is the only one to have a power-sharing agreement between the two parties.

Nationally, the state legislatures include 1,972 state senators and 5,411 state representatives. Republicans hold 1,081 state Senate seats—remaining the same since August — and 2,759 state House seats — up one from last month. Democrats hold 3,453 of the 7,383 state legislative seats—874 state Senate seats (down one seat) and 2,579 state House seats (the same as last month). Independent or third-party legislators hold 34 seats, of which 30 are state House seats and four state Senate seats. There are 56 vacant seats.

In the September prior to the 2016 general election, Democrats held 821 state Senate seats (53 fewer than today) and 2,334 state House seats (a decrease of 245), while Republicans held 1,087 state Senate seats (an additional six when compared to today) and 3,017 state House seats (an increase of 258).

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