State legislative battleground chambers, 2014

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2014 State Legislative Elections

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The majority of state legislative chambers with elections in 2014 were not at risk of flipping majority control. Using data on partisan balance, seats up for election and competitive districts, Ballotpedia staff identified the top 20 state legislative chambers to watch in 2014.

In 15 of the chambers, the difference in partisan balance between Democrats and Republicans amounted to 10 percent or less of the seats up for election in 2014.

If any of the country's state legislative chambers were to have switched party control as a result of the November 2014 elections, those switches were most likely to have occurred in these 15 chambers. An additional five chambers were included for having a small difference in partisan balance even though that difference was greater than 10 percent of the seats up for election. Vacant seats were attributed to the party that previously held the district.

After the election, eight of the 20 battleground chambers flipped in partisan balance, all from Democratic to Republican. This included one chamber, the Maine State Senate, that had a higher than 10 percent difference in partisan balance among seats up for election. One other state senate that was not considered a battleground chamber, the West Virginia Senate, also flipped in 2014 after a Democratic lawmaker switched parties.

In the 50 states, there are 99 state legislative chambers altogether, and 87 of the 99 chambers held state legislative elections on November 4, 2014. A total of 1,098 (55.6%) of the country's 1,972 state senate seats were up for election in November 2014, and 4,958 (91.6%) of the country's 5,411 state house seats were up for election. Altogether, 6,057 (82.0%) of the country's 7,383 state legislative seats were up for election during the midterm election year.

See also: State legislative elections, 2014

What made our list

Twenty chambers in 17 states made Ballotpedia's list of elections to watch. Those states and chambers were:

Although some of the chambers included on the list were at risk of flipping between Democratic and Republican majorities, the list was not meant to predict such changes in partisan control. The list is an indicator of close chambers paired with a look at how many districts in any given chamber held competitive elections in 2012. Special elections were not factored in the creation of the list.

The following table details the 20 chambers on Ballotpedia's list. Competitive districts were defined by a margin of victory of 5 percent or less in 2012. Mildly competitive districts were defined by a margin of victory between 5 and 10 percent.

2014 State Legislative Battleground Chambers
Chamber Seats up Partisan difference % Partisan difference 2012 Competitive districts 2012 Mildly competitive districts Election result
Arkansas House 100 3 3.0% 7 10 Republican Party
Washington Senate 25 1 4.0% 1 3 Republican Party
New York Senate 63 3 4.8% 8 1 Republican Party*
Colorado Senate 18 1 5.6% 3 3 Republican Party*
New Mexico House 70 4 5.7% 9 6 Republican Party*
Iowa House 100 6 6.0% 18 9 Republican Party
Iowa Senate 25 2 8.0% 4 8 Democratic Party
Kentucky House 100 8 8.0% 4 10 Republican Party
West Virginia House 100 6 6.0% 18 9 Republican Party*
Michigan House 110 9 8.2% 8 13 Republican Party
New Hampshire Senate 24 2 8.3% 5 3 Republican Party
Pennsylvania House 203 17 9.4% 7 10 Republican Party
Minnesota House 134 12 9.0% 17 21 Republican Party*
Nevada Senate 11 1 9.1% 5 0 Republican Party*
New Hampshire House 400 40 10.0% 85 33 Republican Party*
Maine Senate 35 4 11.4% 7 7 Republican Party*
Arizona Senate 30 4 13.3% 1 3 Republican Party
Oregon Senate 15 2 13.3% 0 2 Democratic Party
Pennsylvania Senate 25 4 16.0% 3 0 Republican Party
Wisconsin Senate 17 3 17.7% 1 1 Republican Party

Note: Chambers marked with * flipped in partisan balance. In addition to the states listed here, the West Virginia State Senate changed from Democratic control to split control, before a Democratic state senator's party switch gave the Republicans control 18-16.

States

Arizona

Arizona

The Arizona Senate had a difference in partisan balance between Democrats and Republicans of four seats, which amounted to 13 percent of the chamber. In 2012, four districts were either competitive or mildly competitive. In 2012, District 8 had a margin of victory of 3 percent. Three other districts had a margin of victory between 5 and 10 percent.[1]

Arizona was one of 23 Republican state government trifectas heading into the elections, and it remained that way following the elections. There was no change in Arizona's partisan balance.

Independent candidate Tom O'Halleran in District 6 looked to make history by becoming the first person not affiliated with the Democratic or Republican parties to win election to the Arizona State Legislature. O'Halleran, a former member of both the state senate and state house, switched his registration from Republican to Independent in May 2014. He cited Republicans' inability to tackle specific issues, even when holding a majority, as his reason for the switch.[2][3] Sylvia Allen (R) ultimately defeated O'Hallerhan in the general election.

On average, $83,199 in campaign contributions were raised for 2012 general election campaigns in each district. General election candidates in Districts 25, 1 and 5 raised the largest amount of contributions while seeing the winning candidate defeating his or her opponent by a wide margin of victory. The following table details the top-10 districts in terms of contributions raised by general election candidates, a comparison between the district and the average for the chamber, the margin of victory in those districts and the cost per vote.[4][5] Chamber average comparison describes how much more money was raised than the average for the chamber.

Arizona State Senate Money Districts, 2012
District Contributions raised Margin of victory Chamber average comparison Cost per vote
25 $365,627 R+33 439.46% $4.40
1 $242,834 R+42 291.87% $2.62
5 $184,930 R+42 222.27% $2.66
18 $156,578 R+6 188.20% $1.63
10 $138,083 D+9 165.97% $1.56
20 $126,558 R+14 152.11% $1.73
9 $120,812 D+11 145.21% $1.35
26 $104,209 D+13 125.25% $2.16
11 $82,781 R+13 99.50% $0.96
17 $80,002 R+14 96.16% $0.94

Context

Some Republicans in the chamber faced a challenge from the right in 2014. Groups targeted nine so-called "legis-traitors" over support for Medicaid expansion. The Alliance of Principled Conservatives (APC) was one such group that targeted Republican incumbents in primaries. They contended that the vote to expand the state's Medicaid system was nothing short of an endorsement of the Affordable Care Act. Former Sen. Frank Antenori, a member of APC, said the act of expansion increased government dependency.[6]

On the other side of this Republican dispute were Governor Jan Brewer and a new group known as the Arizona Business Coalition (ABC). Matthew Benson, a spokesman for ABC, said "These are conservatives, they're Republicans and they've had to make tough decisions to turn the state around, as Governor Brewer has done . . . These are people who are stepping up and leading instead of tilting at windmills and yelling at black helicopters." Benson declined to comment on the legislators that received support, though they were expected to back lawmakers who supported expansion with tight primary races. Brewer's own independent-expenditure committee, Arizona Legacy, was expected to support the same lawmakers using some of its $571,000 cash on hand reported as of June 30.[6]

Both ABC and the Arizona Free Enterprise Club, another conservative group, agreed in their support for at least one candidate, Vince Leach of House District 11.[7] Leach won his election.

Arkansas

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Arkansas

The Arkansas House had a difference in partisan balance between Democrats and Republicans of three seats, which amounted to 3 percent of the chamber. In 2012, 17 districts were competitive or mildly competitive. There were seven districts where the margin of victory was 5 percent or less in the 2012 elections. Another 10 districts had a margin of victory between 5 and 10 percent.

Twenty-eight incumbent representatives did not run for re-election in 2014, while 72 ran for re-election. Five of those incumbents faced a primary competition on May 20, 2014. Out of those five incumbents, three incumbents were defeated by a primary challenger. Heading into the general election, Arkansas was one of 14 states under divided government and was therefore not a state government trifecta.

Republicans strengthened their hold on the chamber in 2014, increasing their seats from 51 to 64. The Democrats lost 12 seats, their number decreasing from 48 to 36. The Green Party lost its only seat.

Republicans had picked up five seats during the 2012 election to gain control of the chamber for the first time since 1974.[8] Prior to the 2010 election, Republicans held just 28 seats in the chamber; that is 23 less than their standing heading into the 2014 elections and less than half of their total following the elections.

Arkansas House of Representatives partisan balance
Party Prior to 2010 Prior to 2012 Prior to 2014
Democratic Party 71 54 48
Republican Party 28 46 51

On average, $118,016 in campaign contributions were raised for 2012 general election campaigns in each district. Eight of the top-10 districts that raised the most in contributions featured general elections with a margin of victory under 10 percent. The following table details the top-10 districts in terms of contributions raised by general election candidates, a comparison between the district and the average for the chamber, the margin of victory in those districts and the cost per vote.[9][5] Chamber average comparison describes how much more money was raised than the average for the chamber.

Arkansas House of Representatives Money Districts, 2012
District Contributions raised Margin of victory Chamber average comparison Cost per vote
18 $252,777 R+3 214.19% $1.63
28 $243,532 D+1 206.36% $0.77
10 $216,649 D+2 183.58% $1.56
17 $204,680 R+5 173.43% $0.94
26 $189,324 D+8 160.42% $2.16
6 $176,601 R+3 149.64% $0.84
1 $170,008 -- 144.06% $2.62
24 $166,864 D+15 141.39% $1.36
8 $149,100 R+1 126.34% $1.44
21 $139,931 R+8 118.57% $0.40

Context

The GOP owned the State House heading into the 2014 elections largely thanks to the party's surge in the prior two elections. Due to the large Republican gains in the elections of 2010 and 2012, partisan control of the State House was expected to come down to just three seats.

One issue of contentious debate during the primary season was the federal healthcare law (the Affordable Care Act, or "Obamacare") and the state of Arkansas's alternative to the Medicaid expansion called "the private option."[10] The private option in Arkansas devotes federal dollars for private health insurance to be purchased by low-income state residents.[11] In particular, Republican state representatives were challenged in their primary races depending on their support or opposition to the private option plan, and the party in power in 2015 controls the fate of this plan. On the other hand, the private option plan did not prove to be a contentious issue in Democratic primary races. At least four Republican incumbent representatives faced primary challenges based on the private option: State Rep. Sue Scott supported the private option plan, while representatives Randy Alexander, Jim Dotson, and John Hutchison opposed the private option plan. While Scott and Dotson were victorious in their primary races, Alexander and Hutchison were defeated by primary challengers Lance Eads and Dwight Tosh, respectively.[11]

Colorado

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Colorado

Going into the elections, the Senate had a difference in partisan balance between Democrats and Republicans of one seat, which amounted to 5.6 percent of the seats up for election in 2014.

The Republicans took the Colorado Senate in 2014. The Democrats had 18 seats to the Republicans' 17 before Election Day. Following the elections, those numbers were flipped.

In 2012, when 16 districts were up for election, six districts were either competitive or mildly competitive. Two of those districts, District 19 and District 22, were up for election again in 2014. Both of those districts had a margin of victory of 5 percent or less in 2012. Heading into the general election, Colorado was one of 13 Democratic state government trifectas.

On average, $132,846 in campaign contributions were raised for 2012 general election campaigns in each district. Six of the top-10 districts that raised the most in contributions featured general elections with a margin of victory under 10 percent. Three featured general elections with a margin of victory greater than 20 percent. The following table details the top-10 districts in terms of contributions raised by general election candidates, a comparison between the district and the average for the chamber, the margin of victory in those districts and the cost per vote.[12][5] Chamber average comparison describes how much more money was raised than the average for the chamber.

Colorado State Senate Money Districts, 2012
District Contributions raised Margin of victory Chamber average comparison Cost per vote
19 $358,484 D+0.8 269.85% $4.73
22 $333,750 D+5 251.23% $4.52
26 $312,265 D+8 235.06% $4.36
35 $223,904 R+2 168.54% $3.54
14 $184,636 D+22 138.98% $2.29
25 $173,904 D+15 130.91% $3.43
27 $150,380 R+10 113.20% $1.94
8 $144,969 R+7 109.13% $2.17
32 $87,491 D+40 65.86% $1.28
17 $87,159 D+29 65.61% $1.19

Context

Heading into the elections, the Democrats controlled the State Senate by the smallest possible margin of one seat. The 2013 recalls of Senate President John Morse (D) and Angela Giron (D) were followed by the attempted recall and resignation of Evie Hudak (D). All three petitions were fueled by gun control legislation passed by the chamber during the 2013 session. Morse and Giron were replaced by Republicans Bernie Herpin and George Rivera, respectively, while Hudak's resignation allowed a Democratic vacancy committee to fill her seat with Rachel Zenzinger (D) and prevent a Republican majority. All three seats were up for election in 2014.

The Colorado State Senate was identified by Louis Jacobson of Governing magazine as one of 17 chambers that were "vulnerable to a change in control in November." Jacobson rated the State Senate contest in Colorado as a "tossup." It was one of four state senates held by a Democratic Party majority that Jacobson rated as tossups; the others being Iowa, Nevada and New York.[13]

Races to watch

Analysts believed that the two seats up for election in Jefferson County would determine the majority party in 2015. Political analyst Eric Sondermann called Jefferson County "the epicenter of Colorado politics." State Republican Party chair Ryan Call called the county a microcosm of the state, with an even split between Democratic, Republican and unaffiliated registered voters. Call believed that District 19 held more promise for Republicans than District 22.[14]

The primary campaigns were closely contested as well, with the gun-rights group Rocky Mountain Gun Owners (RMGO) endorsing one candidate in each primary and attacking the other for not being conservative enough. RMGO endorsed Woods and Sanchez before stating in an email that since the other candidates did not fill out their anti-gun survey, RMGO assumed they would "vote anti-gun if elected." Nicolais defended himself from the criticism, referencing his concealed carry permit. Sias pointed to his high marks from the National Rifle Association to deflect the accusation. Both RMGO-endorsed candidates won their primary.[14]

Iowa

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Iowa

The Iowa Senate had a difference in partisan balance between Democrats and Republicans of two seats, which amounted to 8 percent of the chamber. In 2012, when 26 seats were up for election, 12 districts were competitive or mildly competitive. One of those districts, District 49, was up for election again in 2014. That district had a margin of victory of 9 percent in 2012. It did not change hands in 2014.

Neither did the Senate overall; both the Republicans and the Democrats retained the same number of seats they had going into the elections.

Five incumbent state senators did not run for re-election in 2014. Twenty did seek re-election. Four incumbents faced primary competition on June 3.

On average, $371,096 in campaign contributions were raised for 2012 general election campaigns in each district. Nine of the top-10 districts that raised the most in contributions featured general elections with a margin of victory under 10 percent. The other district had a general election with a margin of victory of 11 percent. The following table details the top-10 districts in terms of contributions raised by general election candidates, a comparison between the district and the average for the chamber, the margin of victory in those districts and the cost per vote.[15][5] Chamber average comparison describes how much more money was raised than the average for the chamber.

Iowa State Senate Money Districts, 2012
District Contributions raised Margin of victory Chamber average comparison Cost per vote
8 $1,573,549 D+11 424.03% $68.92
26 $934,120 D+0.4 251.72% $30.20
36 $810,197 D+8 218.33% $27.85
30 $794,973 D+2 214.22% $23.94
48 $763,420 R+2 205.72% $23.66
49 $655,163 D+9 176.55% $20.67
42 $572,180 D+6 154.19% $19.24
46 $543,424 D+7 146.44% $18.17
28 $522,874 R+0.1 140.90% $17.61
24 $410,127 R+10 110.52% $13.19

The Iowa House, which also did not flip in 2014, went into the elections with a difference in partisan balance between Democrats and Republicans of six seats, which amounted to 6 percent of the chamber. In 2012, 27 districts were competitive or mildly competitive. There were 18 districts where the margin of victory was 5 percent or less in the 2012 elections. Another nine districts had a margin of victory between 5 and 10 percent.

Ten incumbent state representatives did not run for re-election in 2014. Of the 90 seeking re-election, six faced primary competition.

On average, $129,260 in campaign contributions were raised for 2012 general election campaigns in each district. Six of the top-10 districts that raised the most in contributions featured general elections with a margin of victory under 10 percent. District 54, with the third-most funds raised, was an unopposed seat. The following table details the top-10 districts in terms of contributions raised by general election candidates, a comparison between the district and average for the chamber, the margin of victory in those districts and the cost per vote.[16][5] Chamber average comparison describes how much more money was raised than the average for the chamber.

Iowa House of Representatives Money Districts, 2012
District Contributions raised Margin of victory Chamber average comparison Cost per vote
67 $908,882 R+6 703.14% $53.96
66 $641,994 D+10 496.67% $38.08
54 $640,064 -- 495.18% $51.83
13 $575,016 D+7 444.85% $47.82
33 $445,745 D+45 344.84% $36.91
93 $436,764 D+13 337.90% $25.53
43 $373,088 R+0.1 288.63% $21.37
76 $355,798 R+5 275.26% $22.29
40 $351,256 D+6 271.74% $20.47
73 $335,660 R+13 259.68% $20.87

Heading into the general election, Iowa was one of 14 states under divided government and not one of the state government trifectas.

Context

A Ballotpedia analysis of partisan balance between 1992 and 2013 showed that the state Senate was largely controlled by the Democrats, whereas the state House was mostly controlled by the Republicans. The last period that both houses came under the control of the same party was 2007 to 2010, when the Democrats held a state government trifecta.

Uncontested seats were plentiful in both houses; eight Democratic seats and six Republican seats out of 25 up for election were not due to be challenged in the Senate, and 32 Democratic seats along with 26 Republican seats were unchallenged in the House. The 39 percent rate of conceded House races marked a record high for Iowa Republicans since 1903, when election data started to be recorded in full. Both parties have the ability to call special conventions to nominate candidates in races where there would otherwise be no general election contest.[17][18]

Mike Gronstal (D), the Senate Majority Leader, stated that despite the thin margin of control, Democrats' chances of holding on to the Senate were better than those in 2012 in that the races "have a little less defense and a little more offense."[19]

In 2013, Republican legislative candidates or campaign committees outraised Democratic ones $2.36 million to $1.17 million, holding 15 out of the top 20 spots in a report issued by the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign.[20]

Races to Watch

In order for Republicans to have taken control of the Senate, they would have needed to win two Democratic seats and maintain five contested seats.

In Senate Districts 5 and 27, Democratic incumbents Daryl Beall and Amanda Ragan respectively ran in districts that have seen the addition of more Republicans by redistricting. District 15 was open due to the retirement of Dennis Black (D), as was District 39 due to the retirement of Sandra Greiner (R).[21]

Kentucky

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Kentucky

Kentucky's partisan balance and party control remained the same before and after the 2014 elections.

Before the elections, Kentucky House had a difference in partisan balance between Democrats and Republicans of eight seats, which amounted to 8 percent of the chamber. In 2012, 12 districts were either competitive or mildly competitive. There were four districts where the margin of victory was 5 percent or less in the 2012 elections. Another 10 districts had a margin of victory between 5 and 10 percent.

Seven incumbent state representatives did not run for re-election, while 93 did run. Three of the seven open seats were held by Democrats. Eleven incumbents faced primary competition on May 20, with W. Keith Hall (D) of District 93 being the lone defeated incumbent. Heading into the general election, Kentucky was one of 14 states under divided government and therefore not one of the state government trifectas.

On average, $93,285 in campaign contributions were raised for 2012 general election campaigns in each district. Six of the top 10 districts that raised the most in contributions featured general elections with a margin of victory under 10 percent. Three districts had general elections with a margin of victory greater than 20 percent. The following table details the top 10 districts in terms of contributions raised by general election candidates, a comparison between the district and the average for the chamber, the margin of victory in those districts and the cost per vote.[22][5] Chamber average comparison describes how much more money was raised than the average for the chamber.

Kentucky House of Representatives Money Districts, 2012
District Contributions raised Margin of victory Chamber average comparison Cost per vote
27 $297,805 D+2 319.24% $20.12
13 $280,994 D+2 301.22% $17.86
79 $269,380 D+10 288.77% $16.55
46 $264,276 D+28 283.30% $12.83
50 $259,828 R+7 278.53% $12.20
67 $255,958 D+20 274.38% $19.74
39 $242,065 D+13 259.49% $16.64
20 $238,118 D+22 255.26% $13.46
2 $233,890 R+10 250.73% $13.24
7 $229,573 D+0.03 246.10% $14.55

Context

A Ballotpedia analysis of partisan balance between 1992 and 2013 shows that Democrats held the House for the entire period. Furthermore, Republicans had not controlled the House since 1921;[23] Kentucky and West Virginia were the last two "Solid South" states to still have Democratic control of the state House.[24] Kentucky was one of three states with split control of the state legislature; Iowa and New Hampshire were the other two.[25]

With redistricting having been completed in 2013 to the benefit of Democrats,[26] five Republican incumbents were forced to run in new districts, though only two, Bart Rowland and Russell Webber, faced opposition in the general election. Their moves set the stage for two-challenger general election contests in Districts 49 and 53.[27]

House Minority Leader Jeff Hoover (R), who expressed interest in the role of Speaker had his party gained control, noted that Republicans were targeting western districts, naming Democratic incumbents Jim Glenn, Gerald Watkins and Jim Gooch explicitly.[28]

In addition to maintaining four seats left by outgoing incumbents, Republicans required five new seats in order to take over the chamber. The implications of the State House race were not lost on outside groups, as a Republican PAC, AmeriGOP, hired a former aide to Mitt Romney to direct its fundraising efforts, and the Democratic group Kentucky Family Values set forth to counter an influx of money from out-of state donors.[24][29] Rand Paul (R), one of the state's two U.S. Senators, was active in fundraising for candidates and groups including AmeriGOP, which pursues the passage of right-to-work legislation and the repeal of prevailing wage.[30] Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, a 2012 presidential candidate, was also booked to appear at an October 25 fundraiser for the Kentucky Rise PAC.[31]

Republicans did not need to win all nine seats to gain control before the Kentucky General Assembly reconvened. Scott Lasley, a political science professor who chairs the Warren County Republican Party, suggested that conservative Democrats may have switched party affiliation to the GOP after the election if Republicans reduced their deficit by enough members.[32] An example of party defection can be found in Louisiana, where a number of conservative Democrats responded to their party's midterm defeat in 2010 by leaving for the GOP, giving it the majority in the state House for the first time since Reconstruction despite legislative elections not being held there that year.[33] In 2012, Democrats won control of the New York State Senate in the elections, but lost it again after several Democrats joined with Republicans to form a new majority caucus while maintaining their party affiliation.[34]

Races to Watch

The following table details the key races in the November 4 general election for the Kentucky House of Representatives and the 2012 margin of victory for the district.

2014 Races to Watch, Kentucky House of Representatives
District Candidate 1 Candidate 2 Margin of Victory (2012)
District 3 Gerald Watkins (D) Randy Bridges (R) D+19%
District 7 John Warren (D) Suzanne Miles (R) D+0.03%
District 10 Dean Schamore (D) Alan Claypool (R) R+21%
District 13 Jim Glenn (D) Alan Braden (R) D+2%
District 32 Ashley Miller (D) Phil Moffett (R) --
District 49 Linda Belcher (D) Mike Nemes (R) R+6%
District 50 Audrey Haydon (D) David Floyd (R) R+7%
District 55 Jacqueline Coleman (D) Kim King (R) R+22%
District 74 Richard Henderson (D) David Hale (R) --
Bold=Incumbent
  • District 7: Republican incumbent Suzanne Miles ran for her first full term in the House, having narrowly won a special election to replace John Arnold (D), who resigned in September 2013 after ethics complaints of sexually harassing members of House staff. Arnold's 2012 margin of victory was a mere five votes (0.03 percent), and although Republicans cast Miles' special election victory as a harbinger of a partisan shift in 2014, her margin of victory over Kim Humphrey (D) was slim at 112 votes (1.6 percent).[36][23] Miles defeated John Warren (D) in the general election.
  • District 10: An open seat left by Dwight Butler (R), Democrats heavily targeted the district, which leaned in their favor after redistricting. Both businessmen, Dean Schamore (D) outraised Alan Claypool (R) about six-and-a-half times by the primary.[37] Schamore defeated Claypool in the general election.
  • District 13: Incumbent Jim Glenn (D) ran for his fifth term, but his prior two victories came at slim margins of 251 and 206 votes, respectively. (The 2010 campaign was a rematch of the 2008 election, in which Glenn defeated Ben Boarman (R) by a much greater margin of nearly 4,100 votes, and the 2012 campaign saw a strong challenge from an independent, Bill Barron.) After handily defeating Jeremy Warfield in the May 20 primary, Glenn defeated Alan Braden (R) in the general election.[27]
  • District 32: Ashley Miller, a nurse practitioner and former Ms. Kentucky United States, had support from Emerge America, a progressive group that trains women to run for office; she was defeated by 2011 gubernatorial candidate Phil Moffett (R) for the open seat, which had been held by a Republican for over a decade.[38][39] In July, U.S. Sen. Rand Paul (R) threw his support behind Moffett, who did not have the financial benefit of running unopposed in the primary.[40]
  • District 49: Two former state representatives faced off for an open seat deemed crucial to Republican efforts to take control of the chamber. While the district was considered conservative, Linda Belcher (D) outraised Mike Nemes (R) by nearly two times by early July.[35] Belcher defeated Nemes in the general election.
  • District 50: Audrey Haydon, an Emerge candidate, had outraised incumbent David Floyd (R) almost five times over early on in the election.[38] However, Floyd lent $35,000 to his campaign after the primary, and he had defeated well-funded opponents in previous years.[35] Haydon was no exception, and Floyd pulled through the general election.
  • District 55: Jacqueline Coleman (D) had doubled the funds of incumbent Kim King (R) early on;[37] by early July, the gap had closed slightly to $36,000 over King's $22,000. Coleman, a teacher, is the daughter of former state Rep. Jack Coleman.[35] This race was only one of two House contests featuring two women; the General Assembly was 16 percent female heading into the elections.[41] King dispatched Coleman in the general election.
  • District 74: While incumbent Richard Henderson (D) won re-election entirely unopposed in 2012, a video from a pro-cockfighting rally showing him admitting to attending and betting on cockfights, which are illegal in Kentucky, proved a contentious issue in his race against David Hale (R). The video was seen as contributing to the primary defeat of U.S. Senate challenger Matt Bevin (R), who also spoke at the rally.[42][27] Henderson was defeated by Hale in the general election.

Maine

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Maine

In 2014, the Republicans took control of the Maine State Senate.

Before the elections, Maine Senate had a difference in partisan balance between Democrats and Republicans of four seats, which amounted to 11.4 percent of the chamber. In 2012, 14 districts were competitive or mildly competitive. There were seven districts where the margin of victory was 5 percent or less in the 2012 elections. Another seven districts had a margin of victory between 5 and 10 percent.[43]

Governor Paul LePage signed Maine's redistricting plans on June 14, 2013, making the 2014 elections the first cycle affected by the 2010 redistricting process in Maine.

The majority control of the Maine State Senate changed hands several times in election prior to 2014. Democrats flipped the chamber in 2012 after picking up six seats. Before that, Republicans took the chamber after the 2010 elections when they gained five seats. Maine was one of 14 states under divided government and therefore not one of the state government trifectas.

Maine State Senate partisan balance
Party Prior to 2010 Prior to 2012 Prior to 2014
Democratic Party 20 15 19
Republican Party 15 19 15

On average, $43,777 in campaign contributions were raised for 2012 general election campaigns in each district. Six of the top-10 districts that raised the most in contributions featured general elections with a margin of victory under 10 percent. Two other districts had general elections with a margin of victory greater than 20 percent. The following table details the top-10 districts in terms of contributions raised by general election candidates, a comparison between the district and the average for the chamber, the margin of victory in those districts and the cost per vote.[43][5] Chamber average comparison describes how much more money was raised than the average for the chamber.

Maine State Senate Money Districts, 2012
District Contributions raised Margin of victory Chamber average comparison Cost per vote
17 $104,092 R+0.1 237.78% $5.31
11 $97,801 NP+6 223.41% $3.94
6 $82,052 D+11 187.43% $3.83
33 $61,494 R+22 140.47% $3.12
14 $61,376 D+27 140.20% $3.31
15 $55,809 D+7 127.48% $2.89
20 $51,364 D+0.8 117.33% $2.37
25 $47,870 D+6 109.35% $2.90
29 $47,737 R+5 109.05% $2.88
31 $47,530 R+11 108.57% $2.40

Context

Republicans had only controlled the Maine State Senate for four years in the 32 years prior to 2014. They only needed to pick up three seats, however, to gain control of the chamber. This landed it on the Republican State Leadership Committee's list of 16 chambers targeted to flip in 2014. Republicans gaining control of this chamber was seen as necessary to prevent a Democratic state government trifecta, as Gov. Paul LePage (R) trailed his opponent Mike Michaud (D) in most polling.[44]

Republicans believed that the varying views and infighting within the state's political party was actually a strength when compared to the state Democratic party. Republican spokesman David Sorensen said, "Overtime there has been increasing tendency of the Democratic caucus to be in lockstep. When everyone is voting 90 percent like each other, you’ve got a situation where what may be popular in Portland isn’t necessary popular in Presque Isle." Sorensen said that Republicans, on the other hand, could find success with moderate candidates in one part of the state while running more conservative candidates in another.[44]

Although Ballotpedia analysis concluded that only the Senate appears to be among the most competitive races, the Republican Legislative Campaign Committee and the Republican Legislative Campaign Committee classified both chambers as part of their "Sweet 16 Targets."[45]

The 2014 elections were the first under new district maps, which were deemed a compromise in a relatively smooth redistricting process. Maine requires a two-thirds vote by the legislature to approve district maps.[46] Incumbents did not face each other in any Senate district in 2014; two House districts featured a major party incumbent against an unenrolled incumbent.

In addition to the Legislature, the governor's office was also up for election. Gov. Paul LePage (R) faced U.S. Sen. Mike Michaud (D) and Eliot Cutler (I). Democrats hoped that Michaud's election combined with maintaining control of the legislature would lead to the quick enactment of legislation that did not succeed in 2013. Cutler, a centrist, suggested that he might serve as "political shelter" for like-minded legislators, although the Portland Press Herald noted that his positions lined up more closely with Democrats.[47]

An issue seen as a centerpiece of the legislative elections was the proposed expansion of the state's Medicaid program, MaineCare. Republicans look to tie the fiscal troubles of the state program to the federal Affordable Care Act, whereas Democrats looked to sell benefits of expansion to voters.[48]

Another issue of import to Democrats was the proposed increase in the state minimum wage.[47] According to a September survey carried out by the University of New Hampshire Survey Center, 60 percent of 589 likely voters said they would strongly support such an increase. However, Andrew Smith, the center's director, said that the issue may factor into votes but is unlikely to become a major issue in the campaign, as most Mainers earn more than the current minimum wage of $7.50 per hour.[49]

Maine has operated a public campaign fund since the 1996 passage of the Clean Elections law, under which candidates may opt to pull from the fund in return for rejecting all other money. By the end of September 2014, 51 percent of legislative candidates had chosen Clean Elections money, the lowest rate since the start of the program. In 2011, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down a section of the law that allowed for additional funds in the event of considerable outspending on the part of other candidates.[50] Outside groups spent about $400,000 on legislative races, with a record-breaking $4.2 million spent on the gubernatorial race.[51]

Races to watch

The following table details the key races in the November 4 general election for the Maine State Senate.

2014 Races to Watch, Maine State Senate
District Candidate 1 Candidate 2
District 7 Ted Koffman (D) Brian Langley (R)
District 9 Geoffrey Gratwick (D) Cary Weston (R)
District 13 Chris Johnson (D) Leslie Fossel (R)
District 20 John Cleveland (D) Eric Brakey (R)
District 22 Guy Desjardins (D) Garrett Mason (R)
District 25 Catherine Breen (D) Cathy Manchester (R)
District 30 James Boyle (D) Amy Volk (R)
Bold=Incumbent

CentralMaine.com identified the following as races to watch in 2014:[52]

  • District 7: Incumbent Brian Langley (R) defeated Theodore Koffman (D). The race was considered a tossup. One vulnerability for Langley was his vote against Medicaid expansion, which Koffman used to campaign against him.[53]
  • District 9: Incumbent Geoffrey Gratwick (D) defeated Cary Weston (R). Gratwick and Weston once served on the Bangor City Council together. The 2012 race in the Bangor area became the most expensive legislative race in Maine's history. Some believed Weston had a favorable match-up because he was both an ex-Bangor mayor and, more importantly, held no legislative record for Democrats to attack. MaineCare played a particularly central role in this race.[44][54][55]
  • District 13: Incumbent Chris Johnson (D) defeated Leslie Fossel (R). This was a rematch of a 2012 race where outside groups spent more than $75,000 to attack Fossel.
  • District 20: Incumbent John Cleveland (D) was defeated by Eric Brakey (R). Brakey is a 25 year-old and new to the district. His January campaign fundraising figures bested any other candidate in Maine's history, and he was endorsed by U.S. Senator Rand Paul.
  • District 22: Incumbent Garrett Mason (R) defeated Guy Desjardins (D). Mason won by a narrow 28-vote margin in 2012 and was viewed as more vulnerable to the Androscoggin County sheriff Desjardins. On the other hand, recent redistricting was in favor of the Republicans.
  • District 30: Incumbent James Boyle (D) faced Amy Volk (R). Volk was at the front of a number of high-profile issues in the house, and the district became more conservative due to redistricting.

The following race also garnered attention:

Michigan

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Michigan

The Michigan House did not change hands in 2014.

Going into the 2014 elections, the House had a difference in partisan balance between Democrats and Republicans of nine seats, which amounted to 8.2 percent of the chamber. In 2012, 21 districts were either competitive or mildly competitive. There were eight districts where the margin of victory was 5 percent or less in the 2012 elections. Another 13 districts had a margin of victory between 5 and 10 percent.[57] Heading into the general election, Michigan was one of 23 Republican state government trifectas.

On average, $140,815 in campaign contributions were raised for 2012 general election campaigns in each district. Nine of the top-10 districts that raised the most in contributions featured general elections with a margin of victory under 10 percent. The following table details the top 10 districts in terms of contributions raised by general election candidates, a comparison between the district and the average for the chamber, the margin of victory in those districts and the cost per vote.[57][5] Chamber average comparison describes how much more money was raised than the average for the chamber.

Michigan House of Representatives Money Districts, 2012
District Contributions raised Margin of victory Chamber average comparison Cost per vote
63 $1,091,245 R+2 774.95% $25.01
52 $942,802 D+6 669.53% $18.76
103 $708,683 R+6 503.27% $16.06
71 $586,843 D+7 416.75% $12.63
91 $514,883 D+0.8 365.64% $12.86
67 $414,768 D+13 294.55% $9.39
70 $387,765 R+9 275.37% $11.92
101 $379,507 R+2 269.51% $7.69
57 $328,916 R+5 233.58% $8.16
39 $311,858 R+7 221.47% $6.81

Context

A Ballotpedia analysis of partisan balance between 1992 and 2013 shows that the House was the most volatile of the group comprising the House, Senate and Governor. While the Senate was held by Republicans for the entire period, Republicans controlled the House on-and-off for 13 years and the Democrats held it on-and-off for seven; the 1993-1994 session was conducted at an even balance. Michigan has been a Republican state government trifecta since 2011, when Gov. Rick Snyder took office and the House returned to Republican control.

The 2014 election was the second held following redistricting, which worked to GOP advantage in the House despite the presidential vote going for Barack Obama (D) by about eight percent. Ten incumbents, some term-limited, retired from the House in the hopes of winning election to the Senate. Twenty-three incumbents in all were term-limited.[58][59]

The 2014 election was also the first since the passage of right-to-work legislation, which contributed to decreased approval for Snyder. Under the law, workers cannot be required to pay union membership dues, although numerous unions locked in new contracts requiring payments before the law took effect in March 2013. In 2013, Michigan ranked fifth in union membership, which increased by 4,000 to 633,000.[58][60][61] Some Republicans faced difficult primaries due to their support of Medicaid expansion.[62]

Races to Watch

For Democrats to pick up the House, they needed to maintain their 50 seats and add 11. There was one outgoing independent, District 3 incumbent John Olumba, who left the Democratic caucus in 2013.

Although their districts were not considered at all competitive per Ballotpedia's criteria, primary challenges against Republican incumbents Ken Yonker (District 72) and Lisa Posthumus Lyons (District 86) centered around support of Medicaid expansion and Common Core threatened their seats.[62]

  • District 23: Pat Somerville, who represents a part of the Downriver area south of Detroit, won the tightest Republican victory in 2012 with a margin of just 1 percent;[57] he defeated Kristy Pagan in the general election.[63]
  • District 76: The Republican Party called Donijo DeJonge (R) one of 14 "Right Women, Right Now" candidates nationwide. She unsuccessfully challenged incumbent Winnie Brinks (D-District 76). DeJonge defeated two primary challengers, while Brinks, who won the seat in 2012, ran unopposed for her party's nomination.[65]
  • District 91: In 2012, Collene Lamonte (D) defeated first-term incumbent Holly Hughes (R) by the slimmest margin of any Michigan House race that year, 0.83 percent.[57] Hughes fought back for a rematch in the western swing district after fending off primary competition from Kevin Erb and Max Riekse.[63] Hughes' attempt back into the State House was successful, as she defeated Lamonte in the general election.

The Lamonte-Hughes race and the Brinks-DeJonge race were top priorities for Michigan House Democrats, according to Rep. Brandon Dillon, the caucus' campaign chairman.

Minnesota

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Minnesota

The Republican Party wrested control of the Minnesota House from the Democratic Party in 2014.

Heading into the elections, the House had a difference in partisan balance between Democrats and Republicans of 12 seats, which amounted to 9 percent of the chamber. In 2012, 38 districts were either competitive or mildly competitive. There were 17 districts where the margin of victory was 5 percent or less in the 2012 elections. Another 21 districts had a margin of victory between 5 and 10 percent.[66] Heading into the general election, Minnesota was one of 13 Democratic state government trifectas.

On average, $46,650 in campaign contributions were raised for 2012 general election campaigns in each district. Five of the top 10 districts that raised the most in contributions featured general elections with a margin of victory under 10 percent. The following table details the top 10 districts in terms of contributions raised by general election candidates, a comparison between the district and the average for the chamber, the margin of victory in those districts and the cost per vote.[66][5] Chamber average comparison describes how much more money was raised than the average for the chamber.

Minnesota House of Representatives Money Districts, 2012
District Contributions raised Margin of victory Chamber average comparison Cost per vote
34B $126,204 R+9 270.53% $5.38
52B $121,684 D+32 260.84% $5.55
49A $115,841 D+12 248.32% $4.59
39B $97,629 R+6 209.28% $4.28
28B $95,398 R+17 204.50% $4.64
49B $86,345 D+7 185.09% $3.40
17B $85,871 D+4 184.08% $4.43
48A $85,474 D+0.8 183.22% $3.46
14B $82,565 D+13 176.99% $4.65
50B $80,043 D+31 171.58% $3.54

Context

A Ballotpedia analysis of partisan balance between 1992 and 2013 shows that the House has switched control four times in that period; Republicans were in control from 1999 to 2006 and 2011 to 2012, with Democrats controlling the remainder. By comparison, the state Senate was entirely the realm of Democrats, save for the 2011-2012 session. Heading into the general election, Minnesota was a state government trifecta for the Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party.

As all Senate seats are up for election every four years and were last up in 2012, the House elections were the only state legislative elections held in Minnesota in 2014. Gov. Mark Dayton (DFL) was also up for re-election. Nine Republicans and two Democrats were unopposed in the general election. Of those, eight Republican incumbents and one DFL incumbent did not face primary opposition.[67]

The overall mood for the midterm elections appeared to be pessimistic for Democrats despite capitalizing on progressive issues such as same-sex marriage, medical marijuana and setting up a state health insurance exchange since regaining control in the 2012 election. Conversely, Republicans used those issues against the DFL, particularly same-sex marriage and the troubled rollout of the MNsure exchange, for which a number of Minnesotans experienced problems signing up by phone and online. Rep. Melissa Hortman (DFL) told MinnPost that most people were unaware of the legislature's activities, hence the trend of low turnout of Democratic-Farmer-Labor voters will continue in 2014.[68][69][70]

Outside groups put millions into Minnesota elections. The ­liberal Alliance for a Better Minnesota and the conservative Republican-Freedom Club together spent more than $3.5 million in the gubernatorial and State House races. Along with these groups, unions and business groups had a stake in the race.

Races to Watch

The following table details key races in the November 4 general election for the Minnesota House of Representatives and the 2012 margin of victory for the district.

2014 Races to Watch, Minnesota House of Representatives
District Candidate 1 Candidate 2 Margin of Victory (2012)
District 2B David Sobieski (DFL) Steve Green (R) R+2%
District 8B Jay Sieling (DFL) Mary Franson (R) R+0.05%
District 10B Joe Radinovich (DFL) Dale Lueck (R) D+1%
District 11B Tim Faust (DFL) Jason Rarick (R) D+3%
District 14B Zach Dorholt (DFL) Jim Knoblach (R) D+13%
District 17B Mary Sawatzky (DFL) David Baker (R) D+4%
District 27A Shannon Savick (DFL) Peggy Bennett (R) D+3%
District 32B Laurie Warner (DFL) Bob Barrett (R) R+2%
District 48A Yvonne Selcer (DFL) Kirk Stensrud (R) D+0.82%
District 49B Paul Rosenthal (DFL) Barb Sutter (R) D+7%
District 56B Will Morgan (DFL) Roz Peterson (R) D+0.80%
Bold=Incumbent
  • District 2B: Republican incumbent Steve Green held onto his seat by 2 percent in 2012.[66] His opponent, David Sobieski, is a business owner who fashioned himself as a moderate "blue dog" Democrat, making the race somewhat of a tossup.[69] The Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee put the race on its watch list of 69 state House races nationwide.[71] Green managed to successfully hold onto the seat.
  • District 8B: This district featured the slimmest margin of any Minnesota House race in 2012, with incumbent Mary Franson (R) winning by eleven votes, or five hundredths of a percent.[66] The election night count showed Franson winning by just one vote, and matters were complicated by the discovery of a precinct error that led to the discarding of 35 ballots, 32 of which were given to voters who lived in District 12B.[72] Franson defeated newcomer Jay Sieling in the general election. While the district was considered conservative, Franson's viral comments in 2012, namely her analogy of distributing food stamps to feeding wild animals in national parks and calling Earth Day "a Pagan holiday," were largely credited with the airtight election result.[73][74][75] Franson stayed relatively low-key in 2014, but by the week before the election, Sieling had outraised her by nearly double, $11,000 to $6,000. Shawn Olson, Sieling's co-campaign manager, suggested that full-page attack ads on Sieling late in the campaign were a sign that polling "scared [the Republicans'] socks off."[73]
  • District 10B: Incumbent Joe Radinovich (DFL) squeezed by to win his first term in 2012 by 323 votes, a 1 percent margin.[66] He faced another close call when the state Supreme Court squelched a recall movement related to his support of same-sex marriage; nearly 63 percent of voters in the district supported a constitutional amendment that would have banned it.[76] The issue has reappeared in the 2014 campaign, which pit Radinovich against Dale Lueck (R), with Lueck winning the seat.[69][77]
  • District 11B: Incumbent Tim Faust (DFL) was no stranger to defeat, having lost his seat in 2010 after two terms. He regained the seat in 2012 by a 3 point margin.[66]. Lutheran minister Jason Rarick (R) defeated Faust in the general election.[66]
  • District 14B: As part of their efforts to pick up seats in the vicinity of the Twin Cities, Republicans put forward Jim Knoblach, who previously served in the House from 1995 to 2007, to face incumbent Zach Dorholt (DFL). Knoblach was praised by House Minority Leader Kurt Daudt as "a very strong candidate" with "a lot of experience."[78] His experience was not enough to convince voters, and Dorholt won re-election.
  • District 17B: The district held by Mary Sawatzky (DFL) changed hands in both of the prior two elections, and her 2012 victory came at a 4 percent margin; at $85,871, the district was seventh of all Minnesota House districts in campaign contributions that year.[66] Republicans, who put forward David Baker, attacked Sawatzky over her support of MNsure and $2 billion in tax hikes during her current term.[69] Baker defeated Sawatzky in the general election.
  • District 27A: This swing district had the added twist of a third-party candidate. Incumbent Shannon Savick (DFL) defeated her predecessor, Rich Murray (R), by about 3 percent, with Independence Party candidate William Wagner pulling about eight percent.[66] A similar lineup faced off in the general election, with Savick being challenged by Peggy Bennett (R) and Thomas Price (IPM).[69] Bennet defeated her two general election opponents.
  • District 32B: Incumbent Bob Barrett (R) won his second term by 2 points in 2012.[66] Barrett was the subject of a residency controversy when a voter filed a petition challenging the incumbent over his claim of homestead status on a house outside of the district. Barrett countered that he claimed homestead status on his old residence in Shafer, which he was trying to sell, for reasons of property tax, and moved out of the house after redistricting in 2012. The petition was withdrawn after a district court judge ruled that there was insufficient evidence to disqualify Barrett.[79] Barrett defeated his opponent, Laurie Warner (R), in the general election.
  • District 48A: The district covering Eden Prairie and Minnetonka featured a rematch between incumbent Yvonne Selcer (DFL) and her predecessor, Kirk Stensrud (R). Selcer's last victory was the second-tightest in the 2012 Minnesota House elections at 0.82 percent. That race saw $85,474 in campaign contributions, the eighth-most of Minnesota House contests that year.[66] Selcer pulled through again, defeating Stensrud in the general election.
  • District 49B: Both candidates in District 49B have worked with money: incumbent Paul Rosenthal (DFL) is a currency trader and Barb Sutter previously worked as a tax accountant. Sutter's background may have worked in her favor as she focused on the state's financial situation, particularly with MNsure. Rosenthal served one term before losing the seat in 2010 and winning it back by 7 percent two years later; the race saw $86,345 in campaign contributions, the sixth-highest for Minnesota House districts that election cycle.[69][66] Rosenthal defeated Suttter in the general election.
  • District 56B: The tightest race in 2012 saw Will Morgan (DFL) defeat Roz Peterson (R) by 0.80 percent to take the open seat in District 56B, which includes the suburbs of Burnsville and Lakeville, where Interstate 35 splits into western and eastern forks that lead into Minneapolis and St. Paul, respectively. The two faced off again in 2014; both have experience in education, with Morgan working as a physics teacher and Peterson serving on the Lakeville School Board.[80][81][69] Peterson defeated Morgan in the general election.

Nevada

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Nevada

Before the 2014 elections, the Democrats held 11 seats in the Nevada Senate to the Republicans' 10. The Republicans took control and flipped those numbers.

Heading into the elections, the Nevada Senate had a difference in partisan balance between Democrats and Republicans of one seat, which amounted to 9 percent of the seats up for election in 2014. In 2012, five districts were competitive, with a margin of victory of 5 percent or less.[1][82]

One incumbent state senator did not seek re-election in 2014. Of the 10 incumbents running for re-election, two faced primary competition.[83] Heading into the general election, Nevada was one of 14 states under divided government and therefore not one of the state government trifectas.

On average, $272,131 in campaign contributions were raised for 2012 general election campaigns in each district. The five districts that raised the most in contributions featured general elections with a margin of victory under 10 percent. The other five districts in the top 10 did not feature a general election with a margin of victory under 25 percent. The following table details the top-10 districts in terms of contributions raised by general election candidates, a comparison between the district and the average for the chamber, the margin of victory in those districts and the cost per vote.[82][5] Chamber average comparison describes how much more money was raised than the average for the chamber.

Nevada State Senate Money Districts, 2012
District Contributions raised Margin of victory Chamber average comparison Cost per vote
15 $1,358,877 R+0.5 499.35% $23.25
6 $873,698 R+2 321.06% $16.15
9 $759,330 D+1 279.03% $17.50
5 $576,876 D+4 211.98% $11.30
18 $513,508 R+3 188.70% $9.64
13 $430,799 D+29 158.31% $10.74
4 $352,201 D+60 129.42% $10.25
3 $235,136 D+29 86.41% $6.96
11 $228,704 D+25 84.04% $6.42
19 $179,579 R+33 65.99% $4.05

Context

A Ballotpedia analysis of partisan balance between 1992 and 2013 shows that Democrats held the Senate for the final six years while Republicans had the majority for the first 16 years.[8]

The Nevada State Senate districts targeted by Democrats and Republicans were District 8, District 9 and District 20. In this scenario, if the GOP won the open seat in District 8, defeated Democratic incumbent Justin Jones in District 9 and maintained control of District 20, Republicans would regain control of the chamber, 11 seats to 10.[84] The Republican Legislative Campaign Committee (RLCC) announced in July that it would be targeting both the Nevada State Senate and Nevada State Assembly. The organization put Nevada on its list of "Sweet 16 targets" to flip legislative control to Republican. The RLCC did not specify how much money would be spent in Nevada or elsewhere, but the amount was expected to be substantial.[85]

Republicans were ultimately doubly successful, not only capturing the Senate but pulling off a near-exact reversal of power in the Assembly.

Races to Watch

  • District 8: Democrats had the opportunity to win District 8, where incumbent Barbara Cegavske (R) was termed out and running for Nevada Secretary of State. Assemblywoman Marilyn Dondero Loop (D) was defeated by Patricia Farley (R) in the general election. Farley and Dondero Loop both defeated primary challengers on June 10.[84] Farley followed other Republican candidates and did not meet her opponent in a debate.[86] The race was highly competitive since there were over 11,824 nonpartisan voters registered in the district and Republicans only held a party registration advantage of 192. In January, Democrats had a more than 300-voter registration edge in the district.[87][86][88] Campaign finance reports in late October showed that Dondero Loop had raised $337,000 and spent $247,000 in her race, compared to Farley who had raised $284,000 and spent $270,000.[87]
  • District 9: Incumbent Justin Jones (D) ran unopposed in the Democratic primary, but was defeated by attorney Becky Harris (R) in the general election. Jones won election in 2012 by only 301 votes. In 2013, Jones angered many gun-rights conservatives during his first year in office, when he pushed for gun control legislation. The Senate Republican caucus endorsed Harris, who defeated Ron Quilang, Vick Gill and David Schoen in the June 10 Republican primary.[84][89] Harris declared that she would not be participating in a debate with Jones. The race was highly competitive since there were over 12,500 nonpartisan voters registered in the district, but Democrats held a party registration advantage of about 3,400.[88] Campaign reports filed in October showed that Jones raised almost $580,000 and spent $600,000. In comparison, Harris only raised $300,000 and spent $324,000.[87]
  • District 20: Incumbent Michael Roberson (R) defeated Teresa Lowry (D) in the general election.[85] In 2010, Roberson defeated his opponent by over 2,500 votes. Roberson canceled a scheduled TV debate with Lowry and refused to schedule others because "very few voters watch these debates."[90] Republicans had a narrow registration edge, "with 23,777 Republicans, 23,247 Democrats and 12,346 nonpartisans" registered in the district. According to campaign finance reports filed in October, Roberson raised $419,000 and spent $447,000, while Lowry only raised $234,000 and spent $190,000.[87]

New Hampshire

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New Hampshire

With vacant seats counting towards the party that previously held the seat, the New Hampshire Senate had a difference in partisan balance between Democrats and Republicans of two seats, which amounted to 8.3 percent of the chamber. In 2012, eight districts were either competitive or mildly competitive. There were five districts where the margin of victory was 5 percent or less in those elections. Another three districts had a margin of victory between 5 and 10 percent.[1][91]

The New Hampshire House had a difference in partisan balance between Democrats and Republicans of 40 seats, which amounted to 10 percent of the chamber. This measure accounts for vacant seats, as in the Senate. In 2012, 118 districts were either competitive or mildly competitive.[92] There were 85 districts where the margin of victory was 5 percent or less in that year's elections. Another 33 districts had a margin of victory between 5 and 10 percent.[93]

Heading into the general election, New Hampshire was one of 14 states under divided government and therefore not one of the state government trifectas.

While it is still not a trifecta, New Hampshire now has an all-Republican legislature after the party took the lower house and retained the upper house.

Both chambers in the New Hampshire State Legislature went through dramatic twists and turns in partisan balance in the elections prior to 2014. The following chart illustrates the partisan balance heading into each of the most recent elections.

New Hampshire State Senate partisan balance
Party Prior to 2010 Prior to 2012 Prior to 2014
Democratic Party 14 5 11
Republican Party 10 19 13

On average, $102,029 in campaign contributions were raised for 2012 general election campaigns in each district. Only four of the top-10 districts that raised the most in contributions featured general elections with a margin of victory under 10 percent. The other six districts had an average margin of victory of 24.7 percent in their general elections. The following table details the top-10 districts in terms of contributions raised by general election candidates, a comparison between the district and the average for the chamber, the margin of victory in those districts and the cost per vote.[91][5] Chamber average comparison describes how much more money was raised than the average for the chamber.

New Hampshire State Senate Money Districts, 2012
District Contributions raised Margin of victory Chamber average comparison Cost per vote
9 $312,231 R+0.7 306.02% $10.17
3 $194,974 R+22 191.10% $6.54
24 $170,272 R+5 166.89% $5.22
2 $160,391 R+8 157.20% $5.81
20 $150,823 D+26 147.82% $7.18
18 $130,341 D+18 127.75% $5.54
22 $127,134 R+27 124.61% $4.75
12 $125,465 D+4 122.97% $4.28
4 $116,612 D+22 114.29% $3.91
10 $112,058 D+33 109.83% $3.96
New Hampshire House of Representatives partisan balance
Party Prior to 2010 Prior to 2012 Prior to 2014
Democratic Party 216 103 220
Republican Party 174 288 180

On average, $384 in campaign contributions were raised for 2012 general election campaigns in each district. Six of the top-10 districts that raised the most in contributions featured general elections with a margin of victory under 10 percent. The following table details the top-10 districts in terms of contributions raised by general election candidates, a comparison between the district and the average for the chamber, the margin of victory in those districts and the cost per vote.[93][5] Chamber average comparison describes how much more money was raised than the average for the chamber.

New Hampshire House of Representatives Money Districts, 2012
District Contributions raised Margin of victory Chamber average comparison Cost per vote
Cheshire 09 $13,984 D+7 3,641.67% $1.71
Hillsborough 33 $13,050 D+4 3,398.44% $1.35
Rockingham 24 $10,437 D+2 2,717.97% $1.24
Sullivan 03 $3,637 D+22 947.14% $2.42
Carroll 02 $3,428 D+0.3 892.71% $0.24
Rockingham 13 $3,410 R+5 888.02% $0.13
Rockingham 10 $3,285 R+10 885.47% $1.43
Rockingham 31 $3,180 D+13 828.13% $0.41
Carroll 01 $2,675 R+25 696.61% $1.09
Grafton 14 $2,510 R+11 653.65% $0.39

Context

A Ballotpedia analysis of partisan balance showed that from 1992 to 2013, the Democratic Party was the majority in the New Hampshire State Senate for six years while the Republicans were the majority for 16 years. The New Hampshire Senate had a Republican majority for the study's final three years.

In the same years, the Democratic Party was the majority in the New Hampshire House of Representatives for five years while the Republicans were the majority for 17 years.[94]

In 4 (16.6%) of the 24 Senate districts up for election in 2014, there was only one major party candidate running for election. Two Republicans and two Democrats were guaranteed election barring unforeseen circumstances. Two major party candidates faced off in the general election in 20 (83.3%) of the 24 districts up for election.[92]

In 83 (20.75%) of the 400 House seats up for election in 2014, there was only one major party candidate running for election. Thirty-nine Democrats and 44 Republicans were guaranteed election barring unforeseen circumstances. Two major party candidates faced off in the general election in 317 (79.2%) of the 400 seats up for election.[92]

In multiple member districts, Ballotpedia staff uses the official candidate list and the seats available in the district to determine the number of major party candidates. For example, in Rockingham 4, five seats were available, and two Democrats and nine Republicans ran in the district. Since only two Democrats ran for election, Republicans were guaranteed at least three seats in that district.[92]

Races to Watch

Senate

In the state Senate, Republicans held a 13 to 11 advantage. For Democrats to take control, they needed to flip two seats. The Nashua Telegraph identified the District 6 race as one that was expected to play a key role on election night.

The State of the Race column on WMUR.com listed District 12 and the open seat in District 8 as the two tossups in the Senate. According to the column, Democrats were expected to win 10 seats and the Republicans, 12 seats.

House

New Mexico

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New Mexico

The New Mexico House flipped in 2014 after the Republicans gained four seats and the Democrats lost four.

Heading into the elections, the New Mexico House had a difference in partisan balance between Democrats and Republicans of four seats, which amounted to 5.7 percent of the chamber. In 2012, 15 districts were either competitive or mildly competitive. There were nine districts where the margin of victory was 5 percent or less in the 2012 elections. Another six districts had a margin of victory between 5 and 10 percent.[1][99]

Eleven incumbent state representatives did not run for re-election in 2014. Of the 59 incumbents seeking re-election, seven faced primary competition. In one of the districts with an incumbent facing primary competition, District 29, the incumbent won by 5 percent in 2012.[100] Heading into the general election, New Mexico was one of 14 states under divided government and therefore not one of the state government trifectas.

On average, $64,014 in campaign contributions were raised for 2012 general election campaigns in each district. Nine of the top-10 districts that raised the most in contributions featured general elections with a margin of victory under 10 percent. The following table details the top-10 districts in terms of contributions raised by general election candidates, a comparison between the district and the average for the chamber, the margin of victory in those districts and the cost per vote.[99][5] Chamber average comparison describes how much more money was raised than the average for the chamber.

New Mexico House of Representatives Money Districts, 2012
District Contributions raised Margin of victory Chamber average comparison Cost per vote
30 $248,710 R+8 388.52% $19.16
43 $233,596 D+2 364.91% $16.80
23 $228,048 R+0.6 356.25% $16.57
15 $217,750 D+2 340.16% $16.27
24 $186,555 D+2 291.43% $14.51
37 $177,500 R+0.1 277.28% $14.17
7 $163,846 R+1 255.95% $18.27
53 $154,014 D+6 240.59% $31.28
63 $131,950 D+27 206.13% $17.17
8 $130,001 R+6 203.08% $11.13

Context

A Ballotpedia analysis of partisan balance showed that Democrats had controlled the New Mexico House of Representatives since 1952.[8] In 38 (54.2%) of the 70 districts up for election in 2014, there was only one major party candidate running for election. Twenty-three Democrats and 15 Republicans were guaranteed election barring unforeseen circumstances. Two major party candidates faced off in the general election in 32 (46%) of the 70 districts up for election. Republicans needed all of their incumbents to win, and pick up another three, in order to become the majority.

Races to Watch

The following table details the nine key races in the November 4 general election for the New Mexico House of Representatives and the 2012 margin of victory for the district.

2014 Races to Watch, New Mexico State House
District Candidate 1 Candidate 2 Margin of Victory (2012)
District 7 Teresa K.E. Smith De Cherif (D) Kelly K. Fajardo (R) R+1%
District 15 Emily A. Kane (D) Sarah Maestas Barnes (R) D+2%
District 23 Catherine Begaye (D) Paul Pacheco (R) R+0.57%
District 24 Elizabeth L. Thomson (D) Conrad James (R) D+2%
District 36 Phillip M. Archuleta (D) Andrew Nunez (R) D+5%
District 37 Joanne J. Ferrary (D) Terry McMillan (R) R+0.1%
District 43 Stephanie Richard (D) Geoff Rodgers (R) D+2%
District 50 Matthew McQueen (D) Vickie Perea (R) D+11
District 53 Mariaelena Johnson (D) Ricky Little (R) D+6%
Bold=Incumbent

There were eleven open seats, vacated by retiring incumbents, in the November election. Six Democrats and five Republican representatives did not run for re-election.

The Republican Legislative Campaign Committee (RLCC) announced in July that District 15 and 24 were a part of the organizations "14 in ‘14 Races to Watch." The organization was expected to spend a large amount of money to influence the elections in both districts.[101] The Future Majority Project, part of the Republican State Leadership Committee, announced in August, that District 36 was one of the project's races to watch.[102]

  • District 15: Incumbent Emily A. Kane (D) was defeated by Sarah Maestas Barnes (R) in the general election. In 2012, Kane won the general election by a margin of victory of only 2 percent.[104] This district is a part of the Republican Legislative Campaign Committee's "14 in ‘14 Races to Watch."[101]
  • District 23: Republicans looked to keep District 23, where first-term incumbent Paul Pacheco (R) defeated Catherine Begaye (D) in the general election. In the last election, Pacheco beat a Democratic newcomer by only 78 votes.[104]
  • District 24: Incumbent Elizabeth L. Thomson (D) was defeated in a rematch against former house member Conrad James (R) in the general election. Thomson defeated James in the 2012 election by less than 300 votes.[104] This district was a part of the Republican Legislative Campaign Committee's "14 in ‘14 Races to Watch."[101]
  • District 36: Democrats hoped to hang on to District 36, where first-term lawmaker Phillip M. Archuleta (D) missed all of 2014's legislative session due to health reasons. Archuleta was defeated by Andrew Nunez (R), a former House member, who he defeated two years prior in the general election. This district was a part of the Republican State Leadership Committee's Future Majority Project as one of the project's races to watch.[102]

New York

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New York

The Republican Party took control of the New York Senate from the Democrats in 2014.

Before the elections, the New York Senate had a difference in partisan balance between Democrats and Republicans of three seats, which amounted to 4.8 percent of the chamber. In 2012, nine districts were either competitive or mildly competitive.[106] There were eight districts where the margin of victory was 5 percent or less in the 2012 elections. Additionally, District 37 had a margin of victory of 8 percent.[107] Heading into the general election, New York was one of 14 states under divided government and therefore not one of the state government trifectas.[1]

On average, $625,472 in campaign contributions were raised for 2012 general election campaigns in each district. Only three of the top-10 districts that raised the most in contributions featured general elections with a margin of victory under 10 percent. One top-10 district, District 34, had a general election with a margin of victory of 89 percent. The following table details the top-10 districts in terms of contributions raised by general election candidates, a comparison between the district and the average for the chamber, the margin of victory in those districts and the cost per vote.[107][5] Chamber average comparison describes how much more money was raised than the average for the chamber.

New York State Senate Money Districts, 2012
District Contributions raised Margin of victory Chamber average comparison Cost per vote
37 $2,076,739 D+8 332.03% $17.48
15 $1,868,066 D+15 298.67% $25.51
60 $1,834,952 R+15 293.37% $14.46
40 $1,833,633 R+2 293.16% $14.40
22 $1,685,156 R+15 269.42% $25.22
43 $1,633,018 R+11 261.09% $12.68
55 $1,614,433 D+4 258.11% $12.00
9 $1,603,976 R+21 256.44% $14.14
52 $1,382,380 R+30 221.01% $12.28
34 $1,297,364 D+89 207.42% $15.14

Context

A Ballotpedia analysis of partisan balance between 1992 and 2013 showed that the Democratic Party was the majority in the New York State Senate for two years, while the Republicans were the majority for 20 years. The Democratic Party was the majority in the House of Representatives for 22 years, while the Republicans were never the majority.

With the margin in the State Senate coming down to three seats, New York's upper chamber was hotly contested, especially by the state's Democratic Party. The State Senate was held by the Republicans with the aid of breakaway Senate Democrats known as the Independent Democratic Conference, although the conference had said it would form a coalition with the Democrats in January 2015. New York Governor Andrew Cuomo expressed interest in campaigning against Senate Republicans during the fall election season in an attempt to win the upper chamber back for the Democrats and to clear a pathway for his public policy initiatives, which included public campaign finance, among other issues.[108][109] Among legislators running for re-election, several unresolved issues from the State Senate's previous sessions returned as crucial election issues in the campaign. Such issues included a minimum wage increase, medical marijuana, heroin regulation, education tax credits and women's rights legislation.[110]

Much attention was drawn to the group of breakaway Democrats, the Independent Democratic Conference (IDC), which allowed the Senate Republicans to take control of the chamber in an unusual coalition, even though New York Democrats won a majority of seats in the 2012 election.[111] In the primaries, there were plenty of challenges against members of the Independent Democratic Conference in a fight to retake the State Senate. IDC leader Sen. Jeff Klein (D) defeated G. Oliver Koppell (D) in the Democratic primary and IDC member Sen. Tony Avella (D) beat former Comptroller John Liu in the Democratic primary.[112] The head of the New York Senate Democrats' campaign arm, State Senator Michael Gianaris, said in an interview, "There is a big list of issues New Yorkers voted to see enacted two years ago, and this strange arrangement in the State Senate has held up priorities such as the minimum wage, women's issues, fixing state government and a long list of others."[111]

On June 25, 2014, the Independent Democratic Conference announced that it planned to ally with the Democratic Party and potentially tip control of the chamber to the Democrats after November 2014. New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio was implicated as a crucial player in the deal to reunite the breakaway faction with the mainstream Democrats in the State Senate. The move was also endorsed by New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, who said that there were "progressive goals that we have yet to achieve and that we must accomplish next January." The alliance between the two factions depended on preventing the Republican Party from capturing enough seats to retake control of the chamber; which Republicans did ultimately accomplish.[113]

Races to Watch

The following table details the five key races in the general election for the New York State Senate and the 2012 margin of victory for the district.

2014 Races to Watch, New York State Senate
District Candidate 1 Candidate 2 Candidate 3 Candidate 4 Margin of Victory (2012)
District 40 Justin R. Wagner (D) Terrence P. Murphy (R) R+2
District 41 Terry W. Gipson (D) Susan J. Serino (R) D+2
District 46 Cecilia Tkaczyk (D) George Amedore (R) D+0.03
District 55 Ted O'Brien (D) Rich Funke (R) D+4
District 60 Marc C. Panepinto (D) Kevin T. Stocker (R) Mark Grisanti (I) Timothy D. Gallagher (C) R+15
Bold=Incumbent

There were three open seats, vacated by retiring incumbents, in the November election. Three Republicans did not run for re-election. In 27 (42.8%) of the 63 districts up for election in 2014, there was only one major party candidate running for election. Sixteen Democrats and 11 Republicans were guaranteed election barring unforeseen circumstances. Two major party candidates faced off in the general election in 36 (57.1%) of the 63 districts up for election.[106]

  • District 40: In this open seat, Yorktown Councilman Terrence P. Murphy (R) defeated Justin R. Wagner (D) in the general election. In 2012, Wagner was narrowly defeated by incumbent Greg Ball (R) by a margin of victory of 2 percent. Senate Republicans spent large sums in the race, the most on any one candidate.[114][115]
  • District 41: In a traditionally Republican district, Incumbent Terry W. Gipson (D) was defeated by Dutchess County legislator Susan J. Serino (R) in the general election. In 2012, Gipson defeated incumbent Stephen Saland (R) by a margin of victory of 2 percent. In a Siena College poll, Serino led Sen. Gipson, 52 percent to 40 percent in late October.[114][116]
  • District 46: In this district, incumbent Cecilia Tkaczyk (D) was defeated by former state senator George Amedore (R) in a 2012 rematch. In 2012, the official results deemed Amedore the winner, but county election officials opened 91 new ballots in January 2013 which eventually gave Tkaczyk an 18-vote lead. Amedore, who had been officially sworn into the Senate just days before, became the shortest-tenured senator in modern history.[117] A recent Siena College poll, gives Republican George Amedore a 10 point lead over Tkaczyk.[116]
  • District 55: Incumbent Ted O'Brien (D) was defeated by Rich Funke (R) in the general election.[114] In 2012, O'Brien won an open seat with a margin of victory of 4 percent. A Siena College poll showed O'Brien struggling against well known Funke in late October.[116] The polls showed Funke leading O'Brien, 57 percent to 32 percent. Funke is well known for his 30-year-career as a TV reporter and anchor. O'Brien argued that the public knows Funke because of his television career, but not where he stands on the issues. Campaign finance reports filed in early October showed that Senate Republicans had spent $171,000 on Funke's campaign by that point.[118] O'Brien was endorsed by U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer (D) and Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D), while Funke was endorsed by the New York chapter of Associated Builders and Contractors.[119][120]

Oregon

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Oregon

The Oregon Senate did not switch hands in the 2014 elections.

The Oregon Senate had a difference in partisan balance between Democrats and Republicans of two seats, which amounted to 13.3 percent of the seats up for election in 2014. In 2012, when 14 districts were up for election, two districts were mildly competitive, with a margin of victory between 5 and 10 percent.[1][122]

One incumbent state senator did not seek re-election in 2014. None of the 14 incumbents who did run for re-election in 2014 faced primary competition. Heading into the general election, Oregon was one of 13 Democratic state government trifectas.[123]

On average, $206,667 in campaign contributions were raised for 2012 general election campaigns in each district. Only two of the top-10 districts that raised the most in contributions featured general elections with a margin of victory under 10 percent. One top-10 district held an unopposed general election race, while four others had a margin of victory of greater than 30 percent. The following table details the top-10 districts in terms of contributions raised by general election candidates, a comparison between the district and the average for the chamber, the margin of victory in those districts and the cost per vote.[122][5] Chamber average comparison describes how much more money was raised than the average for the chamber.

Oregon State Senate Money Districts, 2012
District Contributions raised Margin of victory Chamber average comparison Cost per vote
25 $1,506,653 D+9 792.02% $35.08
5 $1,488,173 D+10 720.08% $26.90
14 $695,493 D+24 336.53% $12.99
27 $657,258 R+18 318.03% $10.99
30 $287,998 -- 139.35% $7.45
21 $197,329 D+69 95.48% $3.00
29 $196,596 R+37 95.13% $4.42
17 $189,792 D+33 91.83% $3.36
12 $184,580 R+20 89.31% $3.26
18 $163,545 D+39 79.13% $2.62

Context

A two-seat gap separated Republican and Democratic control of the State Senate, with the Democratic Party holding the chamber heading into November.

The Oregon State Senate was identified by Louwas Jacobson of Governing magazine as one of 17 chambers that was "vulnerable to a change in control in November." Jacobson rated the state senate contest in Oregon as "leans Democratic."[13]

Both parties offered an analyis of how they could maneuver themselves into a Senate majority. For the Oregon Democratic Party, Democratic-friendly issues were expected to boost turnout among registered Democrats. According to Tom Powers, the executive director of the Senate Democratic Leadership Fund, which was the leading funding operation of the Oregon Democratic Party, "Voters in Southern Oregon and the Mid-Valley delivered a strong message yesterday about their excitement to elect Democratic candidates for the Senate."[124] Powers highlighted the larger voter turnout in support of traditionally Democratic positions such as the prohibition on genetically-modified crops, particularly in Southern Oregon's Jackson County. A statewide initiative, Measure 92, which would require that genetically-modified food receive a label, also played a role in voter turnout.[124]

On the Republican side, the Oregon Republican Party had 11 Senate candidates running in 16 districts.[125] Dan Lavey, president of Gallatin Public Affairs and a Republican strategist, said "In terms of control of the Legislature, the Republican party and the candidates closest to the center of the electorate will be successful." Lavey suggested that in order to take majority control in the state senate, the Republican Party in Oregon needed to bring together "a rural/suburban coalition," including "a moderate business coalition combined with a populist conservative coalition."[126]

The Bulletin, an Oregon-based newspaper, noted that the Democratic and Republican parties were focused on close races as well as the influence that independent voters can wield in those key races.[127] Several of the key races identified by The Bulletin received extra attention from the state parties. For the Democrats, this included District 3, a district which Tom Powers, the executive director of the Senate Democratic Leadership Fund, called "our top contentious seat to hold a majority."[127] According to Powers, other vulnerable incumbent Republicans included senators from District 15, District 20 and District 26. Oregon Democrats hoped that the number of vulnerable Republican incumbents exceeds that of vulnerable Democrats, placing their party in a stronger position to maintain control of the State Senate.

For state Republicans, the party focused on taking out State Sen. Peter Courtney, also the chamber's president.[127] The Republicans also hoped that increasing turnout in a non-presidential election year would mimic the turnout of the 2010 midterm election, during which Republican and conservative candidates around the country managed to capture numerous state legislative chambers as well as governorships. During that election, the Oregon Republican Party managed to tie the Democratic Party in the Oregon House of Representatives. Another focus of the state's Republicans included independent voters, many of which who had not registered with either the Republican or Democratic parties.[127] According to Michael Gay, an state senate Republican Party spokesperson, such voters could have helped shift certain electoral districts toward Republicans.

Races to watch

  • District 3: Incumbent Alan Bates (D) won the Senate seat in District 3 by only 275 votes in 2010 in a recount against Dave Dotterrer (R). That victory by Bates helped the Democratic Party achieve a slim majority (16-14) in the State Senate (the chamber would have been evenly divided had Dotterrer defeated Bates). In 2014, Dotterrer faced Bates in a closely-watched race that could have tipped the control of the State Senate into Republican hands. As of 2013, the Democrats had a registration edge of roughly 5 points over that of Republicans, although that was a point less than Democratic registration in 2010.[128] Recent campaign finance reports showed that Bates raised just over $430,000, while Dotterrer has raised $606,000.[129]
  • District 8: Incumbent Betsy Close (R) was defeated by Rep. Sara Gelser (D-16) in the general election. Close, from conservative Albany, was appointed to the chamber to replace Frank Morse (R), a more moderate Republican who retired. Gelser has served in the House for four terms, representing the liberal college town of Corvallis.[130] In this election cycle, Gelser had raised $630,000, compared to $408,000 for Close. Gelser received more than $160,000 from the Senate Democratic campaign fund as well as donations from several union organizations.[129]
  • District 15: Former state representative Chuck Riley (D) defeated incumbent Bruce Starr (R) and Caitlin Mitchel-Markley (L) in the general election. In 2010, Starr defeated Riley by less than 2,000 votes. Campaign finance reports released before the general election showed that Starr had received over $550,000 and Riley had raised over $400,000 in donations.[129]

Pennsylvania

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Pennsylvania

There was no change to the majority control of either house in Pennsylvania. The Republicans continued to hold both the Senate and the House following the 2014 elections.

The Pennsylvania Senate had a difference in partisan balance between Democrats and Republicans of four seats, which amounted to 16 percent of the seats up for election in 2014. In 2012, when the 25 odd-numbered districts were up for election, three districts were competitive, with a margin of victory of 5 percent or less.[131][1]

Five incumbent state senators did not run for re-election in 2014. Of the 20 incumbents that did run for re-election, four faced primary competition.[132]

On average, $422,074 in campaign contributions were raised for 2012 general election campaigns in each district. Only two of the top-10 districts that raised the most in contributions featured general elections with a margin of victory under 10 percent. Three of the top-10 districts held unopposed general election races. The following table details the top-10 districts in terms of contributions raised by general election candidates, a comparison between the district and the average for the chamber, the margin of victory in those districts and the cost per vote.[131][5] Chamber average comparison describes how much more money was raised than the average for the chamber.

Pennsylvania State Senate Money Districts, 2012
District Contributions raised Margin of victory Chamber average comparison Cost per vote
9 $3,438,842 R+11 814.75% $26.10
37 $3,088,802 D+D 731.82% $22.92
25 $2,516,728 -- 596.28% $33.51
15 $1,757,115 D+3 416.30% $14.81
43 $1,376,388 -- 326.10% $14.52
47 $1,335,884 R+14 316.50% $13.23
49 $1,163,851 D+20 275.75% $11.47
29 $895,285 R+12 212.12% $8.85
17 $833,352 D+26 197.44% $6.71
7 $743,859 -- 176.24% $7.07

The Pennsylvania House had a difference in partisan balance between Democrats and Republicans of 20 seats, which amounted to 9.9 percent of the chamber. In 2012, 17 districts were either competitive or mildly competitive. There were seven districts where the margin of victory was 5 percent or less in the 2012 elections. Another 10 districts had a margin of victory between 5 and 10 percent.[133]

Nineteen incumbent state representatives did not seek re-election in 2014. Of the 184 incumbents that ran for re-election, 47 faced primary competition.[132]

On average, $154,089 in campaign contributions were raised for 2012 general election campaigns in each district. Five of the top-10 districts that raised the most in contributions featured general elections with a margin of victory under 10 percent. The district that raised the most contributions in 2012 held an unopposed general election race. The following table details the top-10 districts in terms of contributions raised by general election candidates, a comparison between the district and the average for the chamber, the margin of victory in those districts and the cost per vote.[133][5] Chamber average comparison describes how much more money was raised than the average for the chamber.

Pennsylvania House of Representatives Money Districts, 2012
District Contributions raised Margin of victory Chamber average comparison Cost per vote
28 $1,240,179 -- 804.85% $41.02
33 $1,007,470 D+18 653.82% $36.90
25 $873,534 D+9 566.90% $29.35
95 $762,702 D+66 494.97% $37.69
157 $729,865 R+2 473.66% $20.98
161 $714,375 R+5 463.61% $20.94
31 $653,735 D+15 424.26% $18.29
156 $635,984 R+3 412.74% $19.11
39 $629,573 R+0.4 408.58% $21.80
76 $505,721 -- 328.20% $30.03

Context

Although Pennsylvania had long been considered a two-party state, some media outlets believed that 2014 could see the state start down the path towards one-party domination. While the Tea Party wave of support helped Republicans claim the governor's mansion and a majority in the State House in 2010, 2012 saw the Democrats win their sixth straight presidential election dating back to 1988, the three statewide "row offices" (attorney general, auditor general and treasurer) for the first time ever and a decisive victory for U.S. Senator Bob Casey, Jr.. Republicans controlled the senate by a meager three seats, making this a chamber with a high probability to flip control to the Democrats in 2014. A potential loss of the governorship and the senate presented the possibility of Republicans becoming the minority party within Pennsylvania politics.[134]

A Ballotpedia analysis of partisan balance between 1992 and 2013 shows that in the State Senate the Democratic Party was the majority in the Pennsylvania State Senate for one year while the Republicans were the majority for 21 years. In the House, the Democratic Party was the majority in the Pennsylvania State House of Representatives for seven years while the Republicans were the majority for 15 years.

Uncontested seats were plentiful in both chambers; six Republicans and four Democratic seats out of 25 up for election featured unopposed candidates in the Senate, and 64 Republicans and 60 Democrats out of the 203 seats were unchallenged in the House.

Races to Watch

Senate
  • District 16: Incumbent Pat Browne (R) defeated Walter Felton Jr. (D) in the general election. Browne, a well known figure in the district, came under criticism for pushing Gov. Tom Corbett's priorities through the Senate, which impacted his popularity in a district that favored Democrats by 4 points.[135]
  • District 26: Democrats had their best chance of picking up a seat in District 26, where the race was open and a generic Democrat would carry a 3-point advantage to win. However, John Kane Sr. (D) was defeated by Thomas McGarrigle (R) in that race.[135]
House
  • District 74: The Republican Legislative Campaign Committee (RLCC) announced in July that District 74 was apart of the organizations "14 in ‘14 Races to Watch." In District 74, Harry Lewis, Jr. (R) defeated Joshua Maxwell (D) in the general election. Thomas Sankey (R), the incumbent, ran for District 73. The RLCC was expected to spend a large amount of money to influence the election. RLCC Chairman Speaker Samuel Smith (R), and the Speaker of the House, expected Republicans to retain control of both chambers and pick up even more seats.[136] On the other hand, Senate Minority Leader Jay Costa believed that Democrats had a great opportunity to take control of the Senate if Tom Wolf, the Democratic candidate for governor, held or grows his lead over Gov. Tom Corbett in the polls.[137]
  • District 81: Write-in candidate Richard Irvin (R) defeated incumbent Michael Fleck (R) in the Republican primary, but Fleck won as a write-in candidate in the Democratic primary. District 81, a mostly conservative district, previously re-elected Fleck three times before he came out as gay in 2012. Irvin (R) defeated Fleck (D) in the general election.[138]

Washington

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Washington

The Republican Party took hold of the Washington Senate in the 2014 elections.

The Washington Senate had a difference in partisan balance between Democrats and Republicans of one seat, which amounted to 4 percent of seats up for election in 2014. In 2012, when 24 districts were up for election, four districts were either competitive or mildly competitive. Heading into the general election, Washington was one of 14 states under divided government and therefore not one of the state government trifectas.

On average, $177,079 in campaign contributions were raised for 2012 general election campaigns in each district. Four of the top-10 districts that raised the most in contributions featured general elections with a margin of victory under 10 percent. The district that raised the most contributions in 2012 held an unopposed general election race. The following table details the top-10 districts in terms of contributions raised by general election candidates, a comparison between the district and the average for the chamber, the margin of victory in those districts and the cost per vote.[139][5] Chamber average comparison describes how much more money was raised than the average for the chamber.

Washington State Senate Money Districts, 2012
District Contributions raised Margin of victory Chamber average comparison Cost per vote
27 $1,433,651 -- 809.61% $26.55
10 $876,509 R+6 494.98% $12.24
17 $805,406 R+0.1 454.83% $14.64
5 $672,743 D+9 379.91% $9.96
41 $644,389 R+8 363.90% $9.33
1 $461,842 D+11 260.81% $6.87
2 $412,508 R+14 232.95% $7.34
3 $339,716 D+16 191.84% $6.64
25 $307,080 R+23 173.41% $5.46
20 $266,320 -- 150.40% $4.93

Context

The Washington State Senate was technically Democrat-controlled 25-24; however, Republicans gained control of the Senate in late 2012 when two Democratic incumbents shifted loyalties after the elections. This created the Majority Coalition Caucus. Crosscut Seattle reported that there were up to 10 Senate districts, listed below, that were considered "swing" districts in the November elections. Minority Democrats needed to win four of the 10 districts to regain control of the Senate; with Republicans holding six of these Senate seats, while two Majority coalition Democrats hold two. Two of the 10 seats were in minority-Democrat hands. In 15 of the previous 20 years, Democrats held control of the Senate.[140][141][142]

Races to Watch

Crosscut Seattle's 10 districts to watch as potential swing districts were District 6, District 26, District 28, District 30, District 35, District 42, District 44, District 45, District 47 and District 48. In these districts, two Democratic incumbents did not run. One incumbent Democratic senator faced a Republican opponent in the general election and one incumbent faced off against another Democrat and a Republican in the primary. In the other six districts, Republican incumbents faced Democratic opponents in general election.[142]

West Virginia

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West Virginia

The Republican Party made history in West Virginia when it unseated the Democratic majority in the House for the first time in more than 80 years.

Going into the 2014 elections, West Virginia House had a difference in partisan balance between Democrats and Republicans of six seats, which amounted to 6 percent of the chamber. In 2012, 27 districts were either competitive or mildly competitive. There were 18 districts where the margin of victory was 5 percent or less in the 2012 elections. Another nine districts had a margin of victory between 5 and 10 percent.

Eight incumbent state representatives did not run for re-election in 2014. Of the 92 who did seek re-election, 32 faced primary competition. Heading into the general election, West Virginia was one of 13 Democratic state government trifectas.

On average, $69,591 in campaign contributions were raised for 2012 general election campaigns in each district. Eight of the top-10 districts that raised the most in contributions featured general elections with a margin of victory under 10 percent. The following table details the top-10 districts in terms of contributions raised by general election candidates, a comparison between the district and the average for the chamber, the margin of victory in those districts and the cost per vote.[143][5] Chamber average comparison describes how much more money was raised than the average for the chamber.

West Virginia House of Delegates Money Districts, 2012
District Contributions raised Margin of victory Chamber average comparison Cost per vote
35 $585,106 R+0.05 840.78% $6.22
51 $369,547 D+1 531.03% $2.93
48 $269,072 R+0.2 386.65% $3.01
36 $220,215 D+2 316.44% $4.64
50 $178,652 D+6 256.72% $3.40
16 $152,536 R+5 219.19% $3.94
3 $136,737 D+15 196.49% $4.81
19 $135,111 D+13 194.15% $7.21
67 $132,304 D+10 190.12% $17.42
17 $103,712 D+9 149.03% $4.74

Context

The West Virginia House of Delegates faced the prospect of Republican control for the first time since the 1930s. Fueled by an 11 seat swing in 2012 and a defection since, many analysts considered the Republican party to have a serious chance of closing the six seat gap. The GOP filed to run candidates in all of the state legislative seats up for election in 2014, ensuring that no Democratic candidate runs unchallenged. Some noted that the additional Republican candidates were solid in their own right, rather than just ballot fillers. "We have doctors, pharmacists—there is a good slate this year," said Vera McCormick, the Kanawha County Clerk. West Virginia Republican Party Chairman Conrad Lucas agreed, saying "It was so important this year for Republicans to make sure we had folks who were ready to govern. We’re fully prepared to be in leadership positions in both the House and state Senate this year." Danny Jones, Mayor of Charleston, backed Republicans to take control. "I think the Republicans are much more motivated and the Democrats are somewhat downtrodden and feel like they don’t have anywhere to go or anybody to vote for and a bunch of these Republicans are going unchallenged. There could be a few Democrats recapture seats but I think a lot more Republicans will."[44][144]

Larry Puccio, Chairman of the West Virginia Democratic Party, believed his party could hold onto their control of the House. The anti-Obama campaign run by many Republicans in 2012, he said, would not work again. "While I think that will be used again and they’ll attempt to use it, I really don’t think that folks believe that a House of Delegate member who will probably never meet the president or know him whatsoever would have any tie at all to him and they will still vote for their local guy," he said.[144]

Races to Watch

The Republicans flip of the House required that all of their incumbents to win. Two seats in District 10 with retiring Republicans and the seat of Del. Ryan Ferns (R), who ran for the State Senate, also needed to be held by Republicans. The party was also targeting pick ups in four seats (16, 35, 37, 47) where Democrats did not run for re-election. In order to maintain control, Democrats targeted the two District 10 seats along with eight single-seat districts where Republican incumbents ran for re-election for the first time, such as District 12, District 14 and District 23.[144]

Eyes were also on the District 59 race between Layne Diehl (D) and Saira Blair (R), the 18-year-old daughter of State Sen. Craig Blair (R). Saira Blair defeated two-term Del. Larry Kump (R) in the May 13 Republican primary, outspending Kump $4,800 to $1,800. Blair, who ran on a campaign focused on the themes of being "pro-family, pro-2nd Amendment, pro-business, pro-jobs, and pro-West Virginia," was considered a favorite in the heavily Republican district, where nearly two thirds of the votes went to Mitt Romney in November 2012. While campaigning, she attended West Virginia University for the fall semester, but said she would take a semester off for the legislative session that meets from January to March.[145][146][147][148][149]

Wisconsin

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Wisconsin

There was no change to the majority control in the Wisconsin Senate in 2014.

The Wisconsin Senate had a difference in partisan balance between Democrats and Republicans of three seats, which amounted to 17.7 percent of the seats up for election in 2014. In 2012, when the 16 even-numbered districts were up for election, two districts were either competitive or mildly competitive. District 18 had a margin of victory of 0.7 percent in the 2012 elections. District 30 had a margin of victory of 9 percent. Heading into the general election, Wisconsin was one of 23 Republican state government trifectas.

On average, $106,724 in campaign contributions were raised for 2012 general election campaigns in each district. Only two of the top-10 districts that raised the most in contributions featured general elections with a margin of victory under 10 percent. Six of the top-10 districts held general elections with a margin of victory greater than 15 percent and one held an unopposed general election. The following table details the top-10 districts in terms of contributions raised by general election candidates, a comparison between the district and the average for the chamber, the margin of victory in those districts and the cost per vote.[150][5] Chamber average comparison describes how much more money was raised than the average for the chamber.

Wisconsin State Senate Money Districts, 2012
District Contributions raised Margin of victory Chamber average comparison Cost per vote
18 $811,950 R+0.7 760.79% $9.49
32 $581,342 D+17 544.72% $6.63
30 $375,181 D+9 351.54% $4.74
10 $337,214 R+18 315.97% $3.85
12 $306,183 R+16 286.89% $3.37
22 $181,024 D+39 169.62% $2.46
20 $159,398 R+37 149.36% $1.64
14 $136,419 R+15 127.82% $1.67
24 $121,284 D+13 113.64% $1.41
8 $116,304 -- 108.98% $1.52

Context

In the past 20 years, the partisan control has switched regularly between Republican and Democratic in the Wisconsin State Senate, according to Ballotpedia data. In 14 of the 17 (82.3 percent) districts up for election, there were two major party candidates, making the elections important to the partisan composition for the Senate. Democrats needed to win only 3 additional seats to gain control of the Senate.

Two Democratic incumbents -- Tim Carpenter and Jon Erpenbach -- were guaranteed their respective seats barring unforeseen circumstances. Republican Leah Vukmir defeated a Libertarian candidate in the general election, Wendy Friedrich.

Races to Watch

There were seven open seats, vacated by retiring incumbents, in the November election. Three Democratic and three Republican senators did not run for re-election. Neal Kedzie (R), the seventh senator, had announced in May 2014 that he would not be running, and he resigned from the Senate in June.

Districts with no Democratic incumbent running:
District 15: Janis Ringhand (D) defeated Brian Fitzgerald (R) in the general election.
District 21: Randy Bryce (D) was defeated by Van Wanggaard (R).
District 25: Janet Bewley (D) defeated Dane Deutsch (R) in the general election. District 25 is historically Democratic, but Deutsch lost by a small margin of 1,600 votes in his 2010 run. Their race centered around a proposed $1.5 billion iron mine.[151]
Districts with no Republican incumbent running:
District 9: Martha Laning (D) was defeated by Devin Lemahieu (R).
District 11: Dan Kilkenny (D) was defeated by Steve Nass (R).
District 17: Pat Bomhack (D) was defeated by Howard Marklein (R) in the general election. Bomhack's primary race against Ernie Wittwer ended in a seven-vote differential; a recount found Wittwer the winner at first, before the decision was reversed three days later in Bomhack's favor.[152]
District 19: Assemblywoman Penny Bernard Schaber (D) was defeated by Roger Roth (R) in the general election.

Chambers targeted by legislative campaign committees

Democratic Party

On July 1, 2014, the Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee (DLCC) released its chart of chambers it hopes to flip or make up ground in. It is divided into two categories: Emerging Majorities and Chambers to Watch. Emerging Majorities were ones the DLCC feels Democrats will be most likely to reduce Republican majorities, if not flip completely. Chambers to Watch denote ones the DLCC feels enough gains can be made to put the chamber in play for future cycles or where the party can reach constitutionally significant benchmarks.[153]

The Emerging Majority chambers are:

The Chambers to Watch are:

Republican Party

Sweet 16 Targets
In July 2014, the Republican Legislative Campaign Committee (RLCC) held its national meeting in Colorado Springs, Colorado. During the event, the RLCC announced its "Sweet 16 Targets," which were identified as opportunities to flip legislative control. Those states include:[154]

2014 Path to Victory
During the national meeting, the RLCC also released its "2014 Path to Victory." Under the Future Majority Project, an outreach initiative intended to proactively grow the Republican Party, 14 candidates were chosen in key districts.[155] Branded "14 in '14 Races to Watch," candidates in the initiative include:[154]

See also

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