State government trifectas: Analyzing potential changes in 2012

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October 26, 2012

Trifectas leading into the November 6 election
(Click to enlarge)

In the context of state politics, a trifecta is when one political party holds the governorship and a majority of both chambers of the state legislature. It's particularly important in the state lawmaking process because the governor, Senate majority leader and House majority leader play decisive roles in the legislative process.

Ballotpedia staff have conducted a comprehensive review of the current trifectas, focusing particularly on potential game changers in the general election. You can read the full report here; the highlights are below.

Heading into the general election, there is a trifecta in 31 states. 21 of these states are Republican trifectas and 10 are Democratic. In terms of trifectas, the results of the 2012 general election is wildly unpredictable. Democrats could gain as many as five or lose up to four trifectas, while Republicans could lose two or gain as many as six.

Below is a breakdown of states that could either lose an existing trifecta or gain a new trifecta.


Democrats currently have a trifecta in 10 states: Arkansas, California, Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, Vermont, Washington and West Virginia.

If the election goes in favor of the Democratic Party in all of the close races, they could pick up an additional five trifectas. On the flip side, if the Democrats don't fare as well, they could potentially lose four.

  • Possible gains: Colorado, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New York, Oregon
  • Potential losses: Arkansas, Connecticut, Washington, West Virginia


Republicans currently have a trifecta in 21 states. If the election falls overwhelmingly in their favor, they would pick up an additional six trifectas. If they lose the close races, though, they could lose two.

  • Possible gains: Iowa, Montana, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Carolina, Wisconsin
  • Potential losses: Maine, Pennsylvania

*New Hampshire is included in both lists. At present, there is no trifecta. However, both parties have at least a remote chance of achieving a trifecta on election night.

See also