A look back at the 2010 state legislative elections

From Ballotpedia
Jump to: navigation, search

January 12, 2011

SLP badge 2010 election.jpg
2010 Legislative Election Results

State-by-State Analysis
AlabamaAlaskaArizonaArkansasCaliforniaColoradoConnecticutDelawareFloridaGeorgiaHawaiiIdahoIllinoisIndianaIowaKansasKentuckyMaineMarylandMassachusettsMichiganMinnesotaMissouriMontanaNebraskaNevadaNew HampshireNew MexicoNew YorkNorth CarolinaNorth DakotaOhioOklahomaOregonPennsylvaniaRhode IslandSouth CarolinaSouth DakotaTennesseeTexasUtahVermontWashingtonWest VirginiaWisconsinWyoming
Other 2010 Election information
State legislative election resultsStatewide elections, 2010State Senate electionsState House elections

By Tyler Millhouse and Geoff Pallay

In the 2010 state legislative elections, Republican representation improved in 85.2 % of the chambers that held elections on November 2.

Republicans improved their total number of legislators in 75 of the 88 chambers that held elections in 2010.

The 2010 general election has profoundly reshaped legislatures across the country. While Republican gains at the national level have garnered significant media attention, changes at the state level have received far less scrutiny. With all states having certified their official election results, a detailed macro-level view of state legislative races is now possible.

Currently, there are 1,027 Republican state senators and 2,918 state house representatives, for a total of 3,945 Republican state legislators. Concurrently, there are 880 Democratic state senators and 2,458 state house representatives -- a total of 3,338.

State senate breakdown as of January 2011

Party Number of Percentage
Democratic state senators 880 44.7%
Republican state senators 1,027 52.1%
Nonpartisan state senators 49 2.5%
Independent state senators 4 0.2%
Vacancies 12 0.6%

State house breakdown as of January 2011

Party Number of Percentage
Democratic state representatives 2,458 45.41%
Republican state representatives 2,918 53.91%
Independent state representatives 15 0.28%
Third party representatives 6 0.11%
Vacancies 18 0.26%

Prior to the 2010 election, Democrats held a commanding majority of state legislators. There were 3,010 Democratic state house representatives and 1,021 Democratic state senators. Meanwhile, Republicans had 2,354 state house representatives and 892 state senators.

State senate Pre-2010 Election

Party Number of Percentage
Democratic state senators 1,021 51.8%
Republican state senators 892 45.3%
Nonpartisan state senators 49 2.5%
Independent state senators 4 0.2%
Vacancies 5 0.2%

State house Pre-2010 Election

Party Number of Percentage
Democratic state representatives 3,010 55.6%
Republican state representatives 2,354 43.4%
Independent state representatives 23 0.4%
Vacancies 30 0.5%

The 2010 election essentially flipped the cumulative representation figures.

Election Analysis

As in the federal elections, GOP gains dominated state legislative elections with few exceptions. Across the nation, only 15 Republican incumbents were defeated while 492 Democratic incumbents were defeated. In total, 507 (10.4%) of the 4,872 incumbents running in the general election were defeated. The following is a breakdown of incumbent defeats in the 2010 general election:

Incumbents defeated in 2010 legislative elections
Party Senate House Total
Democratic 89 403 492
Republican 5 10 15
TOTALS 94 413 507

Republicans also had a stronger showing than Democratic candidates in open seat races (races where no incumbent ran in the general election). Open seats contests made up 1,178 (19.2%) of the 6,125 seats on November 2. Of these 1,178 open seats, Republicans won 729 (61.9%) while Democrats won 449 (38.1%). Going into the election, the number of open seats formerly held by each party was quite similar. Estimates prior to the election suggest that approximately 52% of the open seats were previously held by Republicans and 48% were held by Democrats. The following is a breakdown of open seats wins in the 2010 general election:

Open Seat Winners in 2010 legislative elections
Party Senate House Total
Democratic 108 341 449
Republican 191 538 729
TOTALS 299 879 1,178

Strong performances in challenging incumbents and winning open seats have translated into a large freshmen class of Republican legislators. In total, 1,733 (28.3%) new legislators were elected in 2010. Of these 1,733, 1,266 (73.1%) are Republicans and 467 (26.9%) are Democrats. The following is a breakdown of the new class of legislators:

New Legislators after the 2010 legislative elections
Party Senate House Total
Democratic 110 357 467
Republican 278 988 1,266
TOTALS 388 1,345 1,733

Impact on legislative majorities

Overall, these gains and losses, translated into significant changes for existing legislative majorities. Heading into the November 2 elections, the Democratic Party held a commanding lead in state houses in the 88 legislative chambers that held elections in 2010. 52 of the 88 chambers, or nearly 60% of them, had a Democratic majority, while only 33 of them had a Republican majority. (Two chambers had an exactly equal number of Democrats and Republicans and one is officially nonpartisan.) The following is a partisan breakdown of state legislatures prior to the November 2 election:

Partisan breakdown before the November 2010 Election
Legislative chamber Democratic Party Republican Party Purple.png Grey.png
State senates 23 18 1 1
State houses 29 15 1 -
Totals: 52 33 2 1

As a result of the election, Republicans picked up 20 legislative chambers while Democrats lost 20. Republicans won 53 total chambers on November 2, while Democrats won only 32. The following is a partisan breakdown of state legislatures after the November 2 election:

Partisan breakdown after the November 2010 Election
Legislative chamber Democratic Party Republican Party Purple.png Grey.png
State senates 16 25 1 1
State houses 16 28 1 0
Totals: 32 53 2 1

Another way to examine the data is to gauge how many chambers had gains for the Democratic Party versus the Republican Party. Using this variable, the wide-sweeping Republican victory is further amplified. Democrats bolstered their majorities in only 7 of 88 (7.96%) state chambers. These legislatures are as follows:

State legislative chambers where Democrats gained seats on November 2
State Chamber Number of seats gained by Democrats
California Assembly + 2
Delaware House + 2
Hawaii Senate + 1
Maryland Senate + 2
Massachusetts Senate + 1
Missouri Senate + 1
West Virginia Senate + 1

In 7 chambers, the GOP kept their current number of seats. In one chamber, the California State Assembly, both major parties gained seats by filling 2 vacancies and defeating an incumbent independent. Overall, the Republican Party picked up legislative seats in 75 (85.2%) of the 88 legislative chambers that held elections on November 2.

Impact on State Politics

Along with the GOP capture of the U.S. House of Representatives, state Republicans gained trifectas (control of the governorship, house, and senate) in 12 states. The following is a breakdown of trifectas across the nation, before and after the 2010 election:

Trifectas before and after the 2010 Election
Party Before election U.S. House seats After election U.S. House seats Gain/loss states Gain/loss congressional seats
Democratic
16 131 11 115 -5 -16
Republican
8 66 20 198 +12 +132

Before the election, 131 U.S House seats were in states with Democratic trifectas, while 66 districts were in states with Republican trifectas. After the election, Republicans trifectas control redistricting for 198 U.S. House seats while Democrats control only 115. Additionally, California, the strongest Democratic trifecta with 53 U.S. House representatives, passed propositions that take redistricting power away from state government.

Along with their new majorities in individual chambers, Republican legislative gains will translate into increased influence over the 2010 census redistricting process. The redistricting process, in turn, will impact state and federal election for the next 10 years as legislators redraw the political lines separating districts.

See also