Tagtrifecta

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.



Special election to be held Jan. 23 in Texas state House district

A special general election is being held on January 23 for District 68 of the Texas House of Representatives. Charles Gregory (D), John Berry (R), Jason Brinkley (R), Craig Carter (R), and David Spiller (R) are running in the general election. A general election runoff will be scheduled if no candidate earns at least 50% of the vote.

The seat became vacant after Drew Springer (R) won a special election for Texas State Senate District 30 on December 19, 2020. Springer was elected to the state House in 2012. He won re-election in 2020 with 85.5% of the vote.

Heading into the special election, Republicans have an 82-67 majority in the Texas House. Texas 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 state legislative special elections have been scheduled for 2021 in 14 states. Between 2011 and 2020, an average of 75 special elections took place each year.

Additional reading:



Donald Trump wins 20 states with trifectas, Joe Biden wins 18

After the 2020 elections, Republicans had 23 trifectas, Democrats had 15 trifectas, and 11 states had divided governments. Trifecta status in Alaska is pending. A trifecta occurs when one political party holds the governorship and majorities in both chambers of the state legislature.

Two divided government states gained Republican trifecta status following the 2020 elections. Joe Biden (D) won New Hampshire, which gained a Republican trifecta when Republicans won majorities in the state legislature. Donald Trump (R) won Montana, which gained a Republican trifecta when Greg Gianforte (R) won the governorship.

Besides New Hampshire, Biden also carried the Republican trifecta states of Arizona and Georgia. Republicans have had a trifecta in Arizona since 2009 and in Georgia since 2005.

In total, Trump won 20 Republican trifectas and Biden won three. Biden won the statewide vote in all 15 Democratic trifecta states.

Biden won three states Donald Trump (R) won in 2016 that now have divided governments. Wisconsin, Michigan, and Pennsylvania all went to Trump in 2016 and Biden in 2020. All three states previously had Republican trifectas; Michigan’s and Wisconsin’s were broken in the 2018 elections, while Pennsylvania’s was broken in the 2014 election.

Biden also won the presidential vote in four other divided government states: Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, and Vermont. Hillary Clinton (D) won these states in 2016. 

Trump won four divided government states that he also won in 2016: Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, and North Carolina. These states all gained divided trifecta status after electing Democratic governors. Louisiana elected a Democratic governor in 2015, followed by North Carolina in 2016, Kansas in 2018, and Kentucky in 2019.



Three states split presidential and gubernatorial vote

Three states voted for presidential and gubernatorial candidates of different parties this year, while at least two voted for presidential candidates of a different party than the state’s trifecta status.

A state government trifecta occurs when one party holds a state’s governorship and majorities in both chambers of the state legislature. Heading into the 2020 elections, Republicans held 21 state government trifectas and Democrats held 15. The 14 remaining states had divided government, where neither party holds a trifecta. Republicans gained at least two trifectas in states with divided governments this year, picking up trifectas in Montana and New Hampshire. As of Nov. 16, Alaska’s final trifecta status remained too close to call, leaving the possibility of a third trifecta pickup for Republicans. No other states’ trifecta statuses changed as a result of the election.

Joe Biden (D) won all 15 states with Democratic trifectas as well as Arizona, which has a Republican trifecta, and New Hampshire, which gained one. As of Nov. 16, the results of the presidential election in Georgia, a Republican trifecta, remained too close to call. Four of the five outlets Ballotpedia tracks had called the state for Joe Biden.

Donald Trump (R) won the other 20 Republican trifecta states. Of the 12 states with divided government after the election (including Alaska), five voted for Donald Trump and seven for Joe Biden.

Eleven states elected a governor this year, including seven with Republican governors at the time of the election and four with Democratic governors. Three states split their presidential and gubernatorial votes. New Hampshire and Vermont re-elected the Republican governors first elected in 2016 while voting for Joe Biden for president. North Carolina re-elected the Democratic governor first elected in 2016, while voting a second time for Donald Trump.

All 11 states also held gubernatorial elections in 2016. That year, five states split their presidential and gubernatorial votes. Montana, North Carolina, and West Virginia elected Democratic governors while also voting for Donald Trump (R). New Hampshire and Vermont elected Republican governors while also voting for Hillary Clinton (D).

Both Montana and West Virginia voted for Donald Trump a second time while also electing a Republican as governor. In Montana, Greg Gianforte (R) was elected governor after losing to incumbent Steve Bullock (D) in the 2016 election. In West Virginia, Jim Justice (R) was re-elected. Justice was first elected as a Democrat in 2016 and joined the Republican Party the following year.



Democrats, Republicans each defending eight vulnerable trifectas this year

Sixteen state trifectas are vulnerable in 2020, according to Ballotpedia’s trifecta vulnerability rating system. Both major parties will be defending eight trifectas.

A state government trifecta occurs when one party holds the governorship and majorities in both chambers of the state legislature. There are currently 21 Republican trifectas and 15 Democratic trifectas. The remaining 14 states have divided governments.

Ballotpedia calculates the chances of trifectas breaking and forming by assessing the chances of each individual component changing control. We assess gubernatorial races with ratings from The Cook Political ReportInside Elections, and Larry Sabato’s Crystal Ball. We assess state legislatures according to the absolute number of seats up for election and the proportion of seats that would need to flip for partisan control to change. Both chambers in a state’s legislature are evaluated individually.

Ballotpedia classifies the Democratic trifectas in five states as moderately vulnerable—Colorado, Connecticut, Maine, Nevada, and Oregon. Three Democratic trifectas—Delaware, Illinois, and New Mexico—are considered somewhat vulnerable.
The Republican trifecta in Florida is the only trifecta Ballotpedia rated as highly vulnerable this year. Four Republican trifectas—in Arizona, Georgia, Iowa, and West Virginia are classified as moderately vulnerable. The Republican trifectas in Ohio, South Carolina, and Texas are somewhat vulnerable.

Ballotpedia also assessed the chances of new trifectas forming in states that are currently under divided government. States that qualified as a possible Democratic trifecta pickup according to our methodology are Minnesota, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin, while Republicans have pickup chances in Alaska and New Hampshire. In Montana and North Carolina, both parties qualify for a pickup opportunity.

For more details and the full report, click here:
https://ballotpedia.org/Trifecta_vulnerability_in_the_2020_elections

Additional reading: