State legislative elections, 2015
New Jersey • Virginia
A total of 131 of the country's 1,972 state senate seats and 407 of the country's 5,411 state house seats will be up for a vote. This accounts for 6.6 percent of the country's state senate seats and 7.5 percent of the country's state house seats. Altogether, 538 (7.3%) of the country's 7,383 state legislative seats are up for election. Four states, Louisiana, Mississippi, New Jersey and Virginia hold elections in odd-numbered years. The New Jersey State Senate is the only chamber in those four states without scheduled elections in 2015.
What's at stake
State government trifectas
A trifecta is when one political party holds these three positions in a state's government:
The concept of the trifecta is important in state lawmaking because in many states, the governor, senate majority leader and house majority leader play decisive roles in the legislative process.
Heading into the 2015 elections, 30 states are controlled by a trifecta. The following states have split-party control of their governments: Alaska, Colorado, Illinois, Iowa, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Washington and West Virginia. Nebraska is a unique case in that the Governor of Nebraska is a Republican and the legislature, although technically nonpartisan, is controlled by a Republican majority.
States with a trifecta include:
Of the four states with elections:
- Louisiana: Republican trifecta
- Mississippi: Republican trifecta
- New Jersey State Legislature: Divided government
- Virginia General Assembly: Divided government
The following table details partisan balance in all 99 chambers.
|Partisan Balance of All 99 Chambers Before and After 2015 Elections|
Of the states holding elections:
- Just one chamber, the New Jersey General Assembly, is held by Democrats.
- Six chambers are Republican-controlled.
The Virginia State Senate features the smallest gap in partisan balance between parties, with 19 seats held by Democrats and 21 held by Republicans.
Louisiana's state senators and state representatives serve four-year terms that begin at noon on the second Monday in January after their election. Both chambers have term limits which prevent a state legislator from serving for more than three terms, or twelve years, in a particular chamber.
Mississippi's state legislators server four-year terms that begin on the first Tuesday after the first Monday in January after their election.
All 80 seats in the Republican-controlled New Jersey General Assembly are up for election in 2015. New Jersey's state representatives are elected to a two-year term that begins at noon of the second Tuesday in January.
Virginia's state senators are elected to a four-year term that begins on the second Wednesday in January after the election. Virginia's state representatives are elected to a two-year term that begins on the second Wednesday in January after the election.
- Mississippi, New Jersey and Virginia will hold general elections on November 3, 2015. Louisiana's general elections will be held on November 21.
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- Louisiana Secretary of State, "Gubernatorial Elections: Offices Regularly Scheduled to be Filed," accessed January 20, 2015
- Mississippi Secretary of State, "eleChart-2000-12," accessed January 20, 2015
- Virginia State Board of Elections, "Schedule of General Elections as of March 20, 2014," accessed January 20, 2015