State Legislative Tracker: Ballotpedia releases updated 2012 election projections

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October 1, 2012


Edited by Greg Janetka
This week's tracker features an update on Ballotpedia's 2012 election projections.

Weekly highlight

MADISON, Wisconsin: With just one month to go before the general election on November 6, races across the country have moved into the final push. This year elections will be held for 86 state legislative chambers as well as 37 statewide top-ballot positions. Will voters opt for the status quo or decide they're ready for a change?

Today Ballotpedia released an updated report on projected outcomes of the 123 State Executive, State Senate and State House elections. This set of projections, the third of four, seeks to indicate which races to watch, and which parties might have more to lose or gain from the election.

Ballotpedia 2012 Election Projections
What changed in September?
State Executive Positions
State Senate Chambers
State House Chambers

Combined projections

Combined projections provide an overview of all the elections by adding up top-ballot state executive positions + the number of chambers held by each party. Top-ballot refers to governors, lieutenant governors, attorneys general and secretaries of state. While there are 37 top-ballot state executive positions up for election and 86 state legislative chambers with 2012 elections, the Nebraska Legislature is officially nonpartisan, thus bringing a total of 122 projected outcomes.

Going into the elections, Democrats hold 55 of these positions, while Republicans hold 65. (Note: The figures are missing two state legislative chambers as there are currently ties in the Alaska Senate and Oregon House).

According to Ballotpedia's latest projections:

  • 24 are Toss-up
  • 14 Lean or Likely Democrat
  • 26 Lean or Likely Republican
  • 24 Safe Democrat
  • 34 Safe Republican

State executives

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Going into the elections, Democrats hold 23 top-ballot state executive positions up for election, while Republicans hold 14.

According to Ballotpedia's latest projections:

  • 13 are Toss-up
  • 7 Lean or Likely Democrat
  • 6 Lean or Likely Republican
  • 6 Safe Democrat
  • 5 Safe Republican

State legislatures

Going into the elections, Democrats hold 36 state legislative chambers up for election, while Republicans hold 59.

According to Ballotpedia's latest projections:

  • 11 are Toss-up
  • 7 Lean or Likely Democrat
  • 20 Lean or Likely Republican
  • 18 Safe Democrat
  • 29 Safe Republican

Full projections

See Ballotpedia:Statewide projections for the November 6, 2012 elections for full projections and methodology. In addition to more detailed information on the races above, the projections include an analysis of Trifectas (when one political party holds the governorship and both chambers in a state) as well as an aggregation of various projections about Congressional races made by other organizations.

Ballotpedia's next and final set of projections will be released on November 1. The first set of projections was released August 1.


This week 4 out of 50 state legislatures - Michigan, New Jersey, Ohio and Pennsylvania - are meeting in regular session, while Massachusetts is meeting in informal session, which it will continue to do throughout the rest of the year. As of May 16, all states had convened their 2012 sessions.

Forty states have adjourned for the year, while four states - Montana, Nevada, North Dakota, and Texas - were not scheduled to hold regular sessions in 2012.

Current sessions capture for the week of October 1, 2012

Regular sessions

See also: Dates of 2012 state legislative sessions
Click here to see a chart of each state's 2012 session information.

Although most states have concluded 2012 business, some states have already begun 2013 action. Drafting for 2013 has begun in Montana and North Dakota, while prefiling of legislation is going on in Alabama, Florida, Kentucky, New Hampshire and Virginia.[1]

Special sessions

Snapshot of State Legislatures:
Monday, October 1, 2012
There are 7,383 Total State Legislators
Total Democratic state legislators 3,301 (44.7%)
Total Republican state legislators 3,947 (53.5%)
There are 99 Total State Legislative Chambers
Total Democratic Party-controlled chambers 37
Total Republican Party-controlled chambers 58
Total tied or nonpartisan chambers 4
2012 Session Information
Total Special Elections 32
Total Special Sessions 20

In 2011, special sessions were a widespread occurrence in state legislatures. This was largely due to states' having to complete the redistricting process for legislative and congressional districts. Overall in 2011, there were 45 special sessions in 28 states.

Since the beginning of 2012, there have been 20 special sessions in 16 states. There are no special sessions currently scheduled.

In recess

As of today, October 1, 4 state's sessions are currently in recess:

  • California - In recess from September 1, 2012 to November 29, 2012.[2]
  • Illinois - In recess from August 17, 2012 to November 27, 2012.[3]
  • New York - In recess from June 22, 2012 to January 8, 2013.[2]
  • Wisconsin - In recess from March 17 to December 31, 2012.[2]
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State news

Redistricting Facts
Maps submitted for vote: 138 out of 142 (97.2%)** No votes on initial maps in the following: ME (2), MT (2)
States that have completed Congressional Maps 43/43
States that have completed State Legislative Maps 47/50 (Maps unfinished: AL, ME, MT)
**With 50 states, there are 142 possible maps. 50 State Senate, 49 State House (No House in Nebraska), and 43 Congressional (7 states have 1 seat)


Late last month, Ron Ceasar, an independent candidate for US House of Representatives, filed suit against Gov. Bobby Jindal (R) for allegedly conspiring with the state Legislature to dilute minority voting strength in the congressional redistricting plan. The suit seeks to temporarily stop the November 6, 2012 congressional elections in districts 3, 4, and 5.[4]

According to the suit, “The governor of Louisiana, personally got involved in the reapportionment of these congressional districts due to conflict of interest for electing and re-electing white Republicans to office.” Jindal's executive council Elizabeth Murrill denounced the move, stating, “This is a frivolous lawsuit. The (U.S.) Justice Department already cleared this plan.”[4]

South Carolina

Today the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that South Carolina's new district lines are fair and nondiscriminatory.[5] A trial began in early March 2012 concerning a lawsuit against the new state house and congressional districts. The suit accused Republican leaders of drawing districts to dilute minority representation. Republican lawyers said the maps were drawn to keep communities together and race was not a factor.[6][7]

A panel of federal judges upheld South Carolina's new districts on March 9, 2012, dismissing the lawsuit that had alleged the lines were drawn to weaken African-American voters in the state. The case was then appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court.[8][9]

West Virginia

The U.S. Supreme Court upheld West Virginia's new congressional map as constitutional last Tuesday, effectively ending a year of legal wrangling as it reversed the ruling of a lower federal court. Lawsuits against the plan began soon after it was passed by the Legislature in August 2011. The West Virginia Supreme Court dismissed the suits in November, but in January of this year a three-judge federal panel overturned that ruling, stating that the plan was unconstitutional due to its unequal distribution of population among the state’s three districts.[10]

In their eight-page ruling the U.S. Supreme Court stated that somewhat unequal districts were permissible as the Legislature legitimately sought to avoid drawing incumbents into the same district while upholding the long-standing tradition of keeping counties intact.[10]

See also: State legislative elections, 2012 and State legislative elections results, 2012
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A total of 86 of the 99 chambers will hold state legislative elections on November 6, 2012.

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

  • 43 of the 50 state senates are holding elections.
  • 43 of the 49 state houses are holding elections.

The 6,015 seats up for election is 110 fewer than the 6,125 that were contested in 2010.

Filing deadlines

See also: Signature requirements and deadlines for 2012 state government elections and 2012 Elections preview: Comparing state legislative filing deadlines

As of July 12, all signature filing deadlines had passed.


See also: 2012 election dates

The 2012 state legislative primary session began on March 6 in Ohio and wrapped up for the year in New York on September 13.

A total of 198 state legislative incumbents were defeated in a primary - 124 Republicans and 74 Democrats.

Primaries took place in 44 states in 2012. For a review of what happened, click on the state below:

Currently, 18 states permit the recall of state officials. Between 1913 and 2008, there were just 20 state legislative recall elections in five states. Of the 20 state legislative recall elections, 13 out of 20 resulted in the state legislator being recalled. In 2011, there were 11 state legislative recalls in three states, four of which resulted in the legislator being recalled. In 2012, there have been four state legislative recalls - three have failed while one succeeded.


Recall efforts are currently targeting three Republican members of the Louisiana House of Representatives - Kevin Pearson, George Cromer and Ray Garofalo.

A fourth representative, Speaker of the House Charles "Chuck" Kleckley, was also facing a potential recall. That effort, however, failed to collect enough signatures by the September 18 deadline and the signatures that were collected were never turned in.[11]

The legislators have been targeted primarily because of their support for controversial public education reforms backed by Gov. Bobby Jindal (R).[12] There has been little news about the campaigns since they began.


2011 saw a wave of recall attempts in Michigan. While most of those efforts dried up, at least two campaigns continued on (the recall of Paul Scott was successful on November 8, 2011). Organizers of the campaigns to recall Bruce Caswell (R) and Phil Pavlov (R) set their sights on the August 2012 ballot, but both were ultimately abandoned.[13]

Following several attempts to get recall language approved against Sen. Randy Richardville, organizers succeeded on June 12, 2012. The approved petition language against Richardville states that one reason for the recall is Richardville's support for a new bridge between Detroit and Windsor, Ontario.[14]

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See also: State legislative special elections, 2012

So far in 2012 there have been 32 special elections in 13 states.

There are no special elections scheduled to take place this week.

Looking ahead

Upcoming special elections include:

  • November 6: Kentucky Senate District 19
  • November 6: Mississippi State Senate District 19
  • November 6: New Jersey Assembly Districts 16, 26, 68
  • December 4: Wisconsin State Senate District 33
  • December 11: Alabama House of Representatives Districts 30, 34
  • December 18: Virginia House of Delegates District 89
  • January 8, 2013: California State Senate District 4
  • January 8, 2013: Georgia State Senate District 30

See also