Ballotpedia's update on 2012 state legislative elections

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November 9, 2012

Portal:State legislatures

By Tyler King

MADISON, Wisconsin: In the 50 states, there are 99 state legislative chambers altogether, and 86 of the 99 chambers held state legislative elections on November 6, 2012.

1,301 (65.97%) of the country's 1,972 state senate seats were up for re-election in November 2012, and 4,714 (87.12%) of the country's 5,411 state house seats were up for re-election. Altogether, 6,015 (81.47%) of the country's 7,383 state legislative seats were up for re-election during the presidential election year.

Here is a recap of what happened in those elections.

Partisan balance

Heading into the election, Republicans held a commanding advantage in total number of state legislative chambers in which it was the majority party. Republicans controlled 51 chambers with 2012 elections while Democrats controlled 32. Democrats ended up having a better night than Republicans, gaining a total of five chambers in 2012 -- four of which were previously under a Republican majority and the Oregon House, which was split heading into the election. On the flip side, Republicans lost four seats to Democrats but they did pick up the Alaska Senate, also split heading into the election.

SLP Partisan Control, 2012.jpg
Partisan Balance of Chambers with 2012 Elections
Pre-election Post-election
Legislative chamber Democratic Party Republican Party Purple.png Grey.png Democratic Party Republican Party Purple.png Grey.png
State senates 17 24 1 1 18 24 0 1
State houses 15 27 1 0 19 24 0 0
Totals: 32 51 2 1 37 48 0 1
Partisan Balance of All 99 Chambers Before and After 2012 Elections
Pre-election Post-election
Legislative chamber Democratic Party Republican Party Purple.png Independent Democratic Party Republican Party Purple.png Independent
State senates 19 28 2 1 20 28 1 1
State houses 17 31 1 0 21 28 0 0
Totals: 36 59 3 1 41 56 1 1

Chamber flips

A total of 12 chambers changed partisan control in the 2012 state legislative elections. Eight of those chambers were flipped to Democratic control while four are now in a Republican majority. Those chambers are:

Republican Party Alaska State Senate
Republican Party Arkansas State Senate
Republican Party Arkansas House of Representatives
Democratic Party Colorado House of Representatives
Democratic Party Maine State Senate
Democratic Party Maine House of Representatives
Democratic Party Minnesota State Senate
Democratic Party Minnesota House of Representatives
Democratic Party New Hampshire House of Representatives
Democratic Party New York State Senate
Democratic Party Oregon House of Representatives
Republican Party Wisconsin State Senate

Political trifectas

A trifecta is when one political party holds the governorship and a majority in both chambers of the state legislatures. It's particularly important in the state lawmaking process because the Governor, Senate Majority Leader and House Majority Leader all play decisive roles in the legislative process. The nation appears to be shifting towards state politics being controlled by one party in any given state. Prior to the 2010 election there were 25 political trifectas. That figure rose after the 2010 elections and even further in this year's elections. There are now a total of 37 trifectas throughout the country.

 Trifectas Before and After the 2012 Election 

New trifectas

Republican Party Alaska
Democratic Party Colorado
Democratic Party New York
Republican Party North Carolina
Democratic Party Oregon
Republican Party Wisconsin

Tifectas that were lost

Democratic Party Arkansas
Republican Party Maine

See also

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