TagState leg

May 2022 breakdown of state legislative party membership: 54.33% Republicans, 44.39% Democrats

According to Ballotpedia’s May partisan count of the 7,383 state legislators across the United States, 54.33% of all state legislators are Republicans and 44.39% 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 control 62 chambers, while Democrats hold 36. The Alaska House of Representatives is the only chamber to be organized under a multipartisan, power-sharing coalition.

Nationally, the state legislatures include 1,961 state senators and 5,368 state representatives. Democrats hold 860 state Senate seats—losing one since April—and 2,417 state House seats, up two from last month. Republicans hold 4,011 of the 7,383 state legislative seats—1,093 state Senate seats (down three since April) and 2,918 state House seats, an increase of one. Independent or third-party legislators hold 41 seats, of which 33 are state House seats and eight are state Senate seats. There are 54 vacant seats.

Compared to May 2021, Democrats have lost seven state Senate seats (867 v 860) and 33 state House seats (2,450 v 2,417). Republicans have gained two state Senate seats (1,091 v 1,093), while the number of state House seats has remained the same.  

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5.3% of state legislative incumbents who filed for re-election have lost in primaries

So far this year, 91 state legislative incumbents—17 Democrats and 74 Republicans—have lost to primary challengers.

Across the 17 states that have held primaries, 5.3% of incumbents running for re-election have lost. This is both the largest number and highest incumbent loss rate in these 17 states since 2014.

In addition to earlier primaries, these totals include preliminary results from primaries held in California, Iowa, Montana, New Mexico, and South Dakota, on June 7. So far, 13 incumbents have lost in those states:

  • Six Republicans in Iowa;
  • One Democrat in Montana;
  • One Democrat and one Republican in New Mexico; and,
  • Four Republicans in South Dakota.

No incumbents have lost in California’s primaries so far. Since the state began using a top-two primary system in 2012, two state legislative incumbents have lost in primaries, both Republicans, in 2020.

Republican incumbents have lost at a higher rate than Democrats. Of the 1,083 Republican incumbents who filed for re-election, 74 (6.8%) have lost to primary challengers. For Democrats, 17 of the 635 who filed for re-election (2.7%) have lost.

Fewer Democratic incumbents are facing primary challengers than Republicans. Around 21% of Democratic incumbents who filed for re-election faced contested primaries compared to 34% for Republicans.

In these 17 states, 1,718 incumbents filed for re-election, 506 of whom (29%) faced primary challengers.

Twenty-six of these 91 incumbent defeats (29%) were guaranteed due to redistricting. When states redraw legislative lines, incumbents can oftentimes end up in a new district with other incumbents leading to incumbent v. incumbent primaries or general elections. Since, in these races, there are more incumbents running than nominations or seats available, at least one incumbent must lose.

Of the 17 states that have held primaries so far, three had Democratic trifectas, 11 had Republican trifectas, and three had divided governments with Democrats controlling the governorship and Republicans controlling both legislative chambers. Across these 17 states, there are 2,189 seats up for election, 36% of the nationwide total.

The figures for 2022 will likely increase. There are currently 58 uncalled primaries featuring 59 incumbents: 29 Democrats and 30 Republicans. One of those uncalled races is an incumbent v. incumbent primary, guaranteeing at least one more incumbent defeat.

You can view a full list of defeated incumbents and totals from previous years by clicking “Learn More” below.



Rate of state legislative incumbents facing contested primaries in Utah at its highest since 2014

Fifteen of the 82 Utah state legislators running for election this year—two Democrats and 13 incumbents—face contested primaries. That equals 18% of incumbents seeking re-election, the highest rate since 2014. The remaining 82% of incumbents are not facing primary challengers.

Utah uses a unique convention-primary structure where candidates participate in party conventions before advancing to the primary. This year, conventions were held on April 23.

If a candidate receives at least 60% of the delegate vote in the convention, they typically advance directly to the general election. If no candidate crosses that threshold, the top-two vote-getters advance to a contested primary.

In 2014, state law was changed so that candidates can also qualify for the primary ballot by collecting the required number of signatures.

Ballotpedia does not count contested convention races as contested primaries. Nevertheless, incumbents can be challenged and can lose in conventions if they do not gather signatures. Three incumbents have already been defeated: Reps. Stephen Handy (R), Douglas Sagers (R), and Steve Waldrip (R). This is the most state legislative incumbents defeated in Utah’s conventions since 2014.

The total number of contested primaries—including those without incumbents—also reached its highest point since 2014. With 90 districts holding elections, there are 180 possible primaries in 2022.

This year, 23 districts (13%) are contested: three Democratic primaries and 20 for Republicans. For Democrats, this is up from one in 2020, a 200% increase. For Republicans, the number increased by 18% from 17 in 2020 to 20 in 2022.

The filing deadline for candidates running for state legislative office in Utah this year was March 4. Candidates filed to run for all of the state’s 75 House districts and 15 of its 29 Senate districts.

Eight of those districts were left open, meaning no incumbents filed to run, the fewest since 2014.

Overall, 161 major party candidates advanced beyond the convention this year: 52 Democrats and 109 Republicans.

Utah has had a Republican trifecta since the party won the governorship in 1984. This is currently the longest, continuous Republican trifecta streak nationwide.

Utah’s state legislative primaries are scheduled for June 28, the eighth statewide primary date of the 2022 state legislative election cycle.

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Primary watch: number of contested state legislative primaries is up 34% compared to 2020

There are 34% more contested state legislative primaries this year than in 2020, including 68% more Republican primaries and 18% more top-two/four primaries. Democratic primaries are down 9%.

These figures include elections in 24 states that account for 2,952 of the 6,166 state legislative seats up for election this year (48%).

A primary is contested when there are more candidates running than available nominations, meaning at least one candidate must lose.

Since our last update on June 1, we have added post-filing deadline data from one state. Overall, six states in this analysis have Democratic trifectas, 15 have Republican trifectas, and three have divided governments.

Of the 24 states in this analysis, 22 are holding partisan primaries. Two states—California and Nebraska—use top-two primaries.

The number of Democratic primaries has increased in nine states, decreased in 10, and remains the same in two. The number of Republican primaries has increased in 21 states and decreased in one. The table below shows partisan statistics for the three states with the largest increases and decreases so far.

In addition to a state’s political makeup and party activity, redistricting is another reason for an increase in primary competitiveness.

After redistricting, some states—like Arkansas—hold elections for every district, while in other years, fewer districts are up each cycle. This creates more opportunities for primaries to occur. Or, like in West Virginia, redistricting creates new districts and, by extension, more primary opportunities. Currently, the total number of possible primaries affected by these changes is up 0.3% compared to 2020.

For states like New Mexico and South Carolina, where only one chamber is up for election every two years, only those chambers holding elections in 2022 that also held elections in 2020 are included.

Ballotpedia will continue to update these figures as information becomes available. In addition to this analysis, Ballotpedia collects competitiveness statistics at all levels of government, available here. This data is calculated following candidate filing deadlines and readjusted at the time of the primary to account for any changes to candidate lists.



Missouri General Assembly considered the highest number of education bills since 2019

In 2022, the Missouri General Assembly considered the highest number of education bills since 2019. The House and Senate considered 149 bills during the 2022 legislative session and 73 in 2019. There were no education bills to become law in either year.

Education bills have been adopted into law in two (2020 and 2021) out of the past four years. In order for a bill to become law, it must pass both the House and Senate and be signed by Gov. Mike Parson (R) or the legislature overrides a veto from the governor. 

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There are three education committees in the Missouri Legislature. The Senate Education Committee, the House  Primary and Secondary Education Committee, and the House Higher Education Committee. The Missouri General Assembly has 66 total standing committees. The Missouri Senate has 20 standing committees, the Missouri House of Representatives has 34 standing committees, and there are 12 joint legislative committees in the Missouri Legislature. 

The Missouri General Assembly is the state legislature of Missouri. It is a bicameral legislature composed of a 34-member Senate and a 163-member House of Representatives. Senators are term limited to two four-year terms and representatives are limited to four two-year terms. The Missouri General Assembly is a part-time legislature. The 2022 session convened on Jan. 5 and will adjourn May 13. 

Missouri is one of 23 Republican state government trifectas in the U.S. The Republican Party controls the office of governor and both chambers of the General Assembly. There is a 24-10 Republican majority in the Senate and a 108-49 majority in the House. The Republicans have a veto-proof supermajority in both chambers. In the event of a veto issued by Gov. Parson, the Republican majority is large enough to override the veto without any votes from members of the Democratic Party. 

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Newcomers will represent 35% of Colorado’s state legislative districts next year

Thirty-five state legislative districts up for election this year in Colorado are open, meaning no incumbents filed to run. That equals 43% of the 82 districts up for election this year and 35% of the 100 districts in the Colorado General Assembly.

Since no incumbents are present, newcomers to the legislature are guaranteed to win open districts. This is the most guaranteed newcomers to the Colorado General Assembly since 2014.

Colorado is one of 15 states with term limits for state legislators. Incumbents are only allowed to serve eight years in either chamber before becoming term-limited. This year, 14 incumbents are term-limited, six in the Senate and eight in the House. Term limits account for 40% of the 35 open districts this year. The remaining 21 open districts were caused by incumbents leaving office for another reason.

Overall, 182 major party candidates filed: 86 Democrats and 96 Republicans. This is the first time Republican candidates have outnumbered Democrats since 2016, the last time Republicans won a majority of seats in the state Senate.

There are 23 contested primaries: seven Democratic primaries and 16 for Republicans. A contested primary is one where there are more candidates running than nominations available, meaning at least one candidate must lose.

For Democrats, this figure is down from eight in 2020, a 13% decrease. For Republicans, the number increased 46% from 11 in 2020 to 16 in 2022.

Of those 23 contested primaries, six include incumbents: one Democrat and five Republicans. This is the largest number of incumbents in contested primaries since 2014, representing 13% of incumbents who filed for re-election.

The filing deadline for candidates running for state legislative office in Colorado was March 15. Candidates filed to run for all of the state’s 65 House districts and 17 of the 35 Senate districts.

Colorado has been a Democratic trifecta since the party won control of the Senate in 2016. Democrats currently hold a 20-15 majority in the Senate and a 41-24 majority in the House.

Colorado’s primaries are scheduled for June 28, the eighth statewide primary date of the 2022 state legislative election cycle.

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Primary watch: number of contested state legislative primaries is up 34% compared to 2020

There are 34% more contested state legislative primaries this year than in 2020, including 71% more Republican primaries and 18% more top-two/four primaries. Democratic primaries are down 9%.

These figures include elections in 23 states that account for 2,862 of 6,166 state legislative seats up for election this year (46%).

A primary is contested when there are more candidates running than available nominations, meaning at least one candidate must lose.

Since our last update on May 23, we have added post-filing deadline data from Colorado, Missouri, and South Carolina. Overall, six states in this analysis have Democratic trifectas, 14 have Republican trifectas, and three have divided governments.

Of the 23 states in this analysis, 21 are holding partisan primaries. Two states—California and Nebraska—use top-two primaries.

The number of Democratic primaries has increased in eight states, decreased in 10, and remains the same in two. The number of Republican primaries has increased in 20 states and decreased in one. The table below shows partisan statistics for the three states with the largest increases and decreases so far.

In addition to a state’s political makeup and party activity, redistricting is another reason for an increase in primary competitiveness.

After redistricting, some states—like Arkansas—hold elections for every district, while in other years, fewer districts are up each cycle. This creates more opportunities for primaries to occur. Or, like in West Virginia, redistricting creates new districts and, by extension, more primary opportunities. Currently, the total number of possible primaries affected by these changes is up 0.3% compared to 2020.

For states like New Mexico and South Carolina, where only one chamber is up for election every two years, only those chambers holding elections in 2022 that also held elections in 2020 are included.

Ballotpedia will continue to update these figures as information becomes available. In addition to this analysis, Ballotpedia collects competitiveness statistics at all levels of government, available here. This data is calculated following candidate filing deadlines and readjusted at the time of the primary to account for any changes to candidate lists.



Oklahoma Legislature adjourns without referring any measures to 2022 ballot

The Oklahoma State Legislature adjourned its 2022 Regular Session on May 27 without referring any measures to the 2022 ballot for voters to consider.

During the 2021 and 2022 legislative sessions, the Legislature considered referring constitutional amendments and state statutes to the ballot. Fifteen constitutional amendments and one state statute had passed in the chamber of origin, but did not receive final approval in the opposite chamber before adjournment.

Proposed constitutional amendments must be referred to the ballot and receive voter approval to be enacted. To put a proposed constitutional amendment on a ballot, a simple majority vote of all members in both the Senate and House is required.

The Legislature can also refer state statutes to the ballot. Bills that raise revenue must pass in both the House and Senate with at least a three-fourths supermajority to be enacted without voter approval; if revenue increasing bills pass a simple majority but less than a three-fourths supermajority, they must be referred to the ballot.

Oklahoma also allows for citizen-initiated constitutional amendments, citizen-initiated state statutes, and veto referendums, making it one of 26 states in which statewide ballot measures can qualify for the ballot through a signature drive. The number of signatures required to qualify initiatives and veto referendums for the ballot is tied to the total votes cast for governor in the last gubernatorial election. For an initiated constitutional amendment, proponents must collect valid signatures equal to 15% of votes cast for governor — 177,958 for 2022. For initiated state statutes, the requirement is 8% — 94,911. For veto referendums, the requirement is 5% — 59,320.

Three measures concerning marijuana legalization and medical marijuana regulation have been cleared to collect signatures.

Two constitutional measures sponsored by Oklahomans for Responsible Cannabis Action (ORCA) were cleared for signature gathering on May 2, with signatures due by August 22, 2022. One of the measures, State Question 818, would create the State Cannabis Commission to replace the Oklahoma Medical Marijuana Authority and to regulate medical marijuana, cannabis, and hemp. The other measure, State Question 819, would legalize and regulate marijuana for persons 21 years old and older and would impose a 15% excise tax on marijuana sales for purchases by an individual without a medical marijuana license.

The other measure, State Question 820, is supported by New Approach PAC. The initiative would amend state law (rather than the state constitution) to legalize and regulate marijuana for persons 21 years old and older. The measure would also impose a 15% excise tax on marijuana purchases by individuals without a medical marijuana license. Under the measure, the Oklahoma Medical Marijuana Authority would be responsible for administering and regulating marijuana access. Signatures for the measure are due by August 1.

Medical marijuana was established in Oklahoma following voter approval of State Question 788, a statutory measure, in 2018. Under State Question 788, the Oklahoma State Department of Health was tasked with overseeing the medical marijuana program through the Oklahoma Medical Marijuana Authority. Following approval of the measure, lawsuits were filed alleging that the Authority was implementing the medical marijuana program in a way that did not align with provisions of the approved ballot measure.

Since State Question 788 was approved, the Legislature has passed and the governor has signed bills altering the state’s medical marijuana program and regulations. On May 11, 2022, Gov. Kevin Stitt (R) signed Senate Bill 1367, which increased penalties for sharing medical marijuana products with individuals who do not have medical marijuana licenses.

A total of 71 measures appeared on statewide ballots in Oklahoma from 2000 to 2020. Of the measures, 74.65% (53 of 71) were approved, and 25.35% (18 of 71) were defeated.



South Carolina House has its most contested primaries since 2014

The number of contested primaries in the South Carolina House of Representatives rose to 48 this year, the most since 2014. With 124 House districts holding elections, this represents 19% of the 248 possible primaries in the chamber.

Of those 44 contested primaries, 12 include Democrats and 36 include Republicans. For Democrats, this is down from 17 in 2020, a 29% decrease. For Republicans, the number increased 50% from 24 in the previous cycle.

Ten of the contested primaries are taking place in open districts where no incumbents filed to run. The remaining 34 contested primaries include incumbents: 11 Democrats and 23 Republicans. That equals 30.6% of incumbents who filed for re-election, the largest percentage since 2018 in the chamber.

The filing deadline for candidates running for the state House in South Carolina this year was March 30. Candidates filed to run for all of the state’s 124 House districts. The 46 Senate districts are not up for election this year. Senators serve four-year terms and face re-election during presidential election cycles.

Overall, 243 major party candidates filed: 85 Democrats and 158 Republicans.

South Carolina has been a Republican trifecta since the party won control of the governorship in 2002. Republicans currently hold an 80-43 majority in the House and a 30-16 majority in the Senate.

South Carolina’s primaries are scheduled for June 14.

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4.5% of state legislative incumbents who filed for re-election have lost in primaries

So far this year, 61 state legislative incumbents—13 Democrats and 48 Republicans—have lost to primary challengers.

Across the 12 states that have held primaries, 4.5% of incumbents running for re-election have lost. This is both the largest number and highest incumbent loss rate in these 12 states since 2014.

In addition to earlier primaries, these totals include preliminary results from primaries held in Alabama, Arkansas, and Georgia, as well as primary runoffs in Texas, on May 24. So far, four incumbents have lost, one in each of those four states, all of whom are Republicans.

So far this year, Republican incumbents have lost at a higher rate than Democrats. Of the 869 Republican incumbents who filed for re-election, 48 (5.5%) have lost to primary challengers. For Democrats, 13 of the 474 who filed for re-election (2.7%) have lost.

However, fewer Democrat incumbents are facing primary challengers than their Republican counterparts. Around 21% of the Democratic incumbents faced contested primaries compared to 35% for Republicans.

Overall, in those 12 states, 1,343 incumbents filed for re-election, 406 of whom (30%) faced primary challengers

Seventeen of the incumbents who lost primaries so far were due to redistricting. When states redraw legislative lines, incumbents can oftentimes end up in a new district with other incumbents leading to incumbent v. incumbent primaries or general elections. In these races, there are more incumbents than nominations or seats available, guaranteeing that at least one incumbent must lose.

Of the 12 states that have held primaries so far, one had a Democratic trifecta, eight had Republican trifectas, and three had divided governments with Democrats controlling the governorship and Republicans controlling both legislative chambers. Across these 12 states, there are 1,655 seats up for election, 11% of the nationwide total.

The figures for 2022 will likely increase. There are currently 64 primaries featuring incumbents—19 Democrats and 45 Republicans—that remain uncalled.

You can view a full list of defeated incumbents and defeat totals from previous years by clicking “Learn More” below.