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Election aftermath: What you need to know about yesterday's state legislative elections

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November 9, 2011

By Greg Janetka and Geoff Pallay

For full results of state legislative, state executive, ballot measure and recall races see November 8, 2011 election results

MADISON, Wisconsin: A total of 434 state legislative seats were up for grabs in Mississippi, New Jersey and Virginia on Tuesday. As of today 11 races remain undecided.

Democrats have retained majority control of the New Jersey Senate and General Assembly while Republicans kept their hold in the Mississippi State Senate and Virginia House of Delegates. The balance of the Mississippi House of Representatives remains close. With eight races left to call, it looks like the GOP may be able to take control of the chamber. Republicans held onto the governorship - taking the House would give them a state government trifecta. Additionally, the Virginia State Senate is currently tied but one race will likely advance to a recount.

Overall, with 11 races undecided, Republicans seem to have had the upper hand on Democrats.

Partisan breakdown of state legislators in the three states with elections on November 8, 2011
Before November 2011 election After November 2011 election
Party Senators Representatives Total state legislators Senators Representatives Total state legislators Gain/loss legislators
70 154 224 64 135 199 -25
61 146 207 68 164 232 +25
0 2 2 0 1 1 -1
1 0 1 0 0 0 -1

What remains clear is that incumbents in both parties dominated the polls. Early analysis shows that 96.6 percent of incumbents who ran last night won re-election. Out of the 353 incumbents running, only 12 - 9 Democrats and 3 Republicans - were defeated (this number could increase based on the undecided races). 170 incumbents faced no major party opposition, all but guaranteeing them re-election.

The numbers tell a more nuanced story when looking at seats where an incumbent did not run. Unofficial results are that of the 80 open seats, Republicans won 60 (75%) of them. In 2010, Republicans won 61.9% of the open seat races.

Meanwhile, the fate of the Virginia State Senate rests on 86 votes - that's how many separate the District 17 race, where a recount seems likely. If the unofficial totals hold up, the chamber will be tied 20-20.

Below are brief breakdowns of what happened in each state.


See also: Mississippi State Senate elections, 2011 and Mississippi House of Representatives elections, 2011

Republicans will continue to hold the majority in the Mississippi State Senate. They currently lead 28–22, with races in District 4 and 18 too close to call. Of the 39 senate incumbents who ran last night, only one (2.5%) - Robert Dearing (D) - was defeated.

With a number of seats yet to be decided, Republicans may be able to take control of the House for the first time since Reconstruction. 105 incumbent representatives ran for re-election. Seven (6.6%) of them - four Democrats and three Republicans - were defeated.

In their quest to take the House, the Mississippi TEA Party targeted six specific incumbents and four open seats. Results currently show TEA Party endorsed candidates winning two and losing three, with five still undecided. A Green check mark transparent.png indicates a win by the TEA Party endorsed candidate.

Mississippi State Senate
Party As of November 2011 After the 2011 Election
     Democratic Party 24 21
     Republican Party 27 31
     Vacancy 1 0
Total 52 52
Mississippi House of Representatives
Party As of November 2011 After the 2011 Election
     Democratic Party 68 59
     Republican Party 54 63
Total 122 122

New Jersey

See also: New Jersey State Senate elections, 2011 and New Jersey General Assembly elections, 2011
New Jersey

As predicted, Democrats in New Jersey held onto both chambers in the state, retaining their 24 – 16 majority in the state Senate while increasing their numbers in the General Assembly from 47–33 to 50–30. A total of 98 incumbents - 36 senators and 62 representatives - ran for re-election. None of them lost.

The most heavily watched seat appeared to be in District 38, where Democratic incumbents Robert Gordon (State Senator), Connie Wagner and Timothy Eustace (Assembly members) won their seats in races that combined to raise the most campaign contributions in history for a single district -- $3.6 million. The final figure is expected to be above $4 million.

New Jersey State Senate
Party As of November 2011 After the 2011 Election
     Democratic Party 24 24
     Republican Party 16 16
Total 40 40
New Jersey General Assembly
Party As of November 2011 After the 2011 Election
     Democratic Party 47 48
     Republican Party 33 32
Total 80 80


See also: Virginia State Senate elections, 2011 and Virginia House of Delegates elections, 2011

While Republicans maintained comfortable control of the House of Delegates, the GOP's push to take control of the Senate may have resulted in a split chamber. Current totals show the chamber tied 20-20, with a recount likely in the race for District 17. According to unofficial results, longtime Democratic incumbent R. Edward "Edd" Houck lost to Republican challenger Bryce Reeves by just 86 votes. Initially the Associated Press reported Houck ahead by 204 votes, but readjusted its total, declaring the race was too close to call.[1]

Another key race was in District 20 where current District 19 incumbent Bill Stanley (R) defeated Democratic incumbent Roscoe Reynolds. Due to redistricting, Stanley was drawn into District 20. Other newly elected Republican senators include Bill Carrico, Ralph Smith, Richard Black and Thomas Garrett.

Last night, 121 incumbents ran for re-election. Only four (3.3%) - all Democrats - were defeated.

Virginia State Senate
Party As of November 2011 After the 2011 Election
     Democratic Party 22 20
     Republican Party 18 20
Total 40 40
Virginia House of Delegates
Party As of November 2011 After the 2011 Election
     Democratic Party 39 32
     Republican Party 58 67
     Independent 2 1
     Vacancy 1 0
Total 100 100


See also