Tagpartisanship

Analyzing partisan splits in states holding U.S. Senate elections in 2022

Thirty-four Senate seats are up for election on November 8, 2022. Republicans currently hold 20 and Democrats hold 14. 

For seats up for election next year, we look at party differences between the current Senate incumbent and their state’s other senator, their state’s governor, and their state’s 2020 presidential winner.

Split Senate delegations

Seven states have senators from different parties in the 117th Senate: Maine, Montana, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Vermont, West Virginia, and Wisconsin. This is the fewest number of states with split Senate delegations in history, according to Eric Ostermeier of the University of Minnesota.

Four of the seven states with split delegations in 2021 have Senate seats up for election in 2022. Vermont has one Democratic senator and one independent senator who caucuses with Democrats, so three states with seats up for election have senators in different caucuses: Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin. In all three, the seats up for election in 2022 are currently held by Republicans.

Senator’s vs. governor’s party

Eleven seats up for election are currently held by a senator of a different party than the state’s governor. Six seats held by Republican senators in states with Democratic governors are up. Five seats held by Democratic senators in states with Republican governors are up.

States won by presidential candidate of a different party

Democrats are not defending any Senate seats in states Donald Trump won in the 2020 presidential election. Republicans are defending two Senate seats in states Joe Biden won: Pennsylvania (held by Sen. Pat Toomey) and Wisconsin (held by Sen. Ron Johnson).

• In Pennsylvania, Biden defeated Trump (R) 50.0%-48.8%.

• In Wisconsin, Biden defeated Trump 49.5%-48.8%.

For additional information on the 2022 Senate elections, including outside race ratings and a full list of seats up for election, click below.

https://ballotpedia.org/United_States_Senate_elections,_2022

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Breaking down partisanship on the Delaware Supreme Court

Delaware is the only state in the country with a constitutional requirement mandating partisan balance on the state supreme court. In 1851, Delaware amended its constitution to include: “three of the five Justices of the Supreme Court in office at the same time, shall be of one major political party, and two of said Justices shall be of the other major political party.”

Ballotpedia’s recently published study on state supreme courts revealed that of the five justices on the Delaware Supreme Court, four justices had some level of affiliation with the Democratic party and one justice had an indeterminate partisan affiliation.

In “Ballotpedia Courts: State Partisanship”, we gathered a variety of data on 341 active state supreme court justices across the 50 states in order to understand their partisan affiliations. Based on this research, we 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, Mild Democratic, Indeterminate, Mild Republican, and Strong Republican.

Our confidence measure shows that there are two Strong Democrats on the Delaware Supreme Court (Justices James Vaughn and Collins Seitz), two Mild Democrats (Justices Gary Traynor and Tamika Montgomery-Reeves), and one Indeterminate justice (Justice Karen Valihura). 

Although Justice Traynor is a registered Republican, the Federal Election Commission records that he has donated to Democratic political campaigns and has no recorded donations to Republican campaigns. Justice Valihura is also a registered Republican in the state. Unlike Traynor, she has donated to Republican campaigns throughout her career.

As of 2020, Delaware remains the only state with such a requirement in its constitution. States like New Jersey and Massachusetts have informal but not constitutional rules which mandate balance on the state supreme court.

Justices in Delaware are selected using the assisted appointment method, where the Judicial Selection Commission forwards a list of candidates to the governor. The governor then appoints a candidate who must then be confirmed by the Delaware General Assembly. Justices serve renewable twelve-year terms.

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Alaska House of Representatives elects temporary speaker

Forty-six state legislatures are currently in session. The Alaska House of Representatives has been in session since Jan. 19. But no regular business has taken place because legislators have not elected a permanent speaker or organized committees.

Partisan control of the House was uncertain after the 2020 elections, split between those favoring a Republican-led majority and those supporting a multi-party coalition. Republicans won 21 of 40 seats, but Rep. Louise Stutes (R) joined a coalition of 16 Democrats and three independents, leaving legislators split into two 20-member factions.

The Alaska House elected Josiah Patkotak (I) unanimously as temporary speaker on Feb. 4. Patkotak was elected to his first term on Nov. 3. He is presiding over the chamber until a permanent speaker is elected, taking over for Lt. Gov. Kevin Meyer (R) who had filled the role of presiding officer since the legislative session began. Legislators have not submitted any nominations for a permanent speaker as of Feb. 9.

Alaska has a Republican governor, and Republicans control the state Senate, so final control of the chamber will also determine the state’s trifecta status.

The Alaska House faced a similar situation after the 2018 elections. That year, Republican-aligned candidates won 23 seats, and Democratic-aligned candidates won 17. A coalition of 15 Democrats, four Republicans, and two independents elected Bryce Edgmon (I) as House speaker on Feb. 14, 2019. Edgmon was originally elected as a Democrat but changed his party affiliation to independent before he was elected speaker. Both parties split control of key leadership positions and committees.



New Mexico state Rep. Phelps Anderson changes party affiliation

New Mexico state Rep. Phelps Anderson changed his voter registration from Republican to “declined to state” on Feb. 5 after he was the only Republican to vote in favor of repealing a 1969 anti-abortion law.

Phelps was first elected to House District 66 in 2018 and ran uncontested for re-election in 2020.

Of the 70 members in the New Mexico House, 45 are Democrats, 24 are Republicans, and one is an independent.

This is the third state legislator in New Mexico to switch parties since 1994. Rep. Andrew Nunez changed his partisan affiliation to independent on Jan. 25, 2011. Nunez represented District 36 from 2001 to 2013. On Nov. 10, 2020, District 12 Rep. Brittney Barreras changed her partisan affiliation from independent to Democratic. Barreras is currently serving her first term in the House.

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Partisan control of 20 state executive offices changed in the 2020 elections

Image of donkey and elephant to symbolize the Democratic and Republican parties.

Partisan control of 20 state executive offices changed in the 2020 elections. Republicans gained a net three state executive offices and Democrats lost a net two.

Eleven offices flipped from Democratic to Republican control, while eight offices flipped from Republican to Democratic control, and one office flipped from third party to Democratic control.

The table below shows the direction and totals of these flips.

The 20 offices that changed control were spread across 15 states. There was a net gain for Democrats in eight of those states and a net gain for Republicans in seven. The state with the most Democratic gains was Kansas, where two positions on the state board of education flipped from Republican to Democratic control. The state with the most Republican gains was Michigan, where three members of the state university boards of regents flipped from Democrats to Republicans.

The map below shows states where party flips occurred in 2020. States shaded dark gray saw no change in the party control of the state executive offices up for election in 2020. In the case of Utah, the state began holding partisan elections for offices that were previously nonpartisan. Those elections were excluded from this analysis.

There were four states where partisan control of a top-ballot executive office or an executive board changed as a result of the 2020 elections.

In Montana, Republicans won control of the governorship. U.S. Rep. Greg Gianforte (R) defeated Lt. Gov. Mike Cooney (D) for the open office. Incumbent Steve Bullock (D) was term-limited. Republicans maintained their majorities in both chambers of the state legislature, so Gianforte’s win created a Republican trifecta in the state.

In Oregon, Democrats won control of the secretary of state’s office. State Sen. Shemia Fagan (D) defeated state Sen. Kim Thatcher (R) in the November election. Incumbent Bev Clarno (R) did not seek re-election. Because the governor and attorney general were already Democrats, Fagan’s win gave Democrats a triplex in the state.

In Colorado and New Hampshire, control of two state boards changed as a result of the 2020 elections. In Colorado, one position on the state’s board of regents flipped to Democrats, giving the party a 5-4 majority. In New Hampshire, two positions on the Executive Council flipped to Republicans, changing the board’s partisan balance from a 3-2 Democratic majority to a 4-1 Republican majority.

To learn more about state executive office party flips, click here.



January 2021 breakdown of state legislative party membership: 54.27% Republicans, 44.86% Democrats

According to Ballotpedia’s January partisan count of the 7,383 state legislators across the United States, 54.27% of all state legislators are Republicans and 44.86% are Democrats. Ballotpedia did not provide partisan counts for December 2020 because the number and partisan affiliation of state legislators fluctuated as officeholders were sworn in and out of office following the general election.

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 control 61 chambers, while Democrats hold 37. As of Jan. 29, control of Alaska’s state House remained undetermined. 

Nationally, the state legislatures include 1,953 state senators and 5,366 state representatives. Democrats hold 864 state Senate seats—losing 10 since November—and 2,448 state House seats, a loss of 117. Republicans hold 4,007 of the 7,383 state legislative seats—1,089 state Senate seats (up five since November) and 2,918 state House seats, an increase of 134. Independent or third-party legislators hold 36 seats, of which 31 are state House seats and five state Senate seats. There are 28 vacant seats.

During the month of January, Democrats saw a net change of -127 seats, while Republicans saw a net change of +139 seats. Democrats gained seats in New York, Massachusetts, Connecticut, and Georgia, while Republicans gained seats in New Hampshire, West Virginia, Ohio, South Carolina, Florida, Kentucky, Arkansas, North Dakota, South Dakota, Montana, Wyoming, Oregon, and Nevada. Both parties gained seats in Vermont and Missouri.  

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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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