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State Legislative Tracker: Republicans predicted to gain control of two chambers

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October 31, 2011

Edited by Greg Janetka

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This week's tracker features an update on the current state legislative partisan breakdown and a spotlight on Ballotpedia's projections of the 2011 state legislative elections.

Partisan breakdown

As of October 31, the following figures represent the cumulative partisan breakdown of the 50 state senates and state houses. In the 50 states, Republicans currently control 53.3% of all seats while Democrats hold 45.2%. All told, Republicans control 57 chambers while Democrats are the majority in 36 chambers.

The totals represent a loss of one Democratic and a loss of twelve Republican legislators from the October 3 tracker.

Representation in 50 State Legislatures
Party Number of Percentage
Democratic state legislators 3,333 45.1%
Republican state legislators 3,940 53.4%
Independent state legislators 65 0.88%
Third party (and non-voting) legislators 11 0.15%
Vacancies 29 0.39%

The partisan composition of state houses refers to which party holds the majority of seats in the state house or the lower level of each state legislature. Altogether, in the 49 state houses, there are 5,413 state representatives.

As of October 31, 2011, the breakdown of chamber control by party is as follows:

  • Democratic Party 18 chambers
  • Republican Party 30 chambers
  • Purple.png 1 chamber (Oregon)
See also: Partisan composition of state senates

Cumulative numbers

As of October 31, 2011 5,366 state representatives are affiliated with either the Republican or Democratic parties.

Party Number of Percentage
Democratic state representatives 2,454 45.3%
Republican state representatives 2,912 53.8%
Independent state representatives 12 0.22%
Third party (and non-voting) representatives 9 0.17%
Vacancies 20 0.36%


There are 20 state house vacancies in 12 different states as of October 31, 2011. They are as follows:

State Vacancies
Alabama 1
Georgia 2
Illinois 1
Maine 1
Minnesota 1
Missouri 4
New Hampshire 2
New Jersey 2
Ohio 1
Oklahoma 1
Texas 1
Vermont 1
Wisconsin 1
Wyoming 1


There are 21 state representatives in 11 states identifying as independents or parties other than Democratic and Representative as of October 31, 2011. They are as follows:

State Independents/Third Party
Georgia 1 (Independent)
Louisiana 2 (Independent)
Maine 3 (2 non-voting Native American representatives, 1 Independent)
New Mexico 1 (Independent)
New York 1 (Independence Party of New York)
North Carolina 1 (Independent)
South Dakota 1 (Independent)
Tennessee 1 (Carter County Republican)
Vermont 8 (5 Vermont Progressive Party, 3 Independent)
Virginia 2 (Independent)
Wisconsin 1 (Independent)
The partisan composition of state senates refers to which political party holds the majority of seats in the state senate. Altogether, in the 50 state senates, there are 1,971 state senators.

As of October 31, 2011, the breakdown of chamber control by party is as follows:

See also: Partisan composition of state houses

Cumulative numbers

As of October 3, 2011, 1,907 state senators are affiliated with either the Republican or Democratic parties.

Party Number of Percentage
Democratic state senators 879 44.6%
Republican state senators 1,028 52.2%
Nonpartisan state senators 49 2.49%
Independent state senators 4 0.2%
Third Party state senators 2 0.10%
Vacancies 8 0.40%


There are 8 state senate vacancies as of October 31, 2011.

State Vacancies
Georgia 1
Iowa 1
Massachusetts 1
Mississippi 1
New Mexico 1
North Dakota 1
Ohio 1
Washington 1


There are 6 state senators in 5 states identifying as independents or parties other than Democratic and Representative as of October 31, 2011. They are as follows:

State Independents/Third Party
Alabama 1 (Independent)
Kentucky 1 (Independent)
Maine 1 (Independent)
Rhode Island 1 (Independent)
Vermont 2 (Vermont Progressive Party)


So far this year, 45 out of 50 state legislatures have officially adjourned their regular session. However, several special sessions remain on tap for the rest of the year.[1] This week, no states are scheduled to adjourn their 2011 regular session.

Current sessions capture for the week of October 31, 2011

Regular sessions

The following 5 states remain in regular legislative sessions:

Click here to see a chart of each state's 2011 session information.

While most state legislatures are not currently in session, a good number of legislators remain active this fall with redistricting hearings and meetings. Meanwhile, although most states have concluded 2011 business, some states are already seeing 2012 action beginning. Drafting for 2012 has begun in Kentucky and Maine, while prefiling of legislation is going on in Alabama, Florida, Kansas, and Tennessee.[2]

Special sessions

Special sessions have been and are expected to be a widespread occurrence in the state legislatures in 2011, in particular due to the necessity of states to conduct the redistricting of state legislative and congressional districts.

  • Wisconsin remains in special session to focus on job creation.[3]
  • Illinois continues a two-week long special veto session to address a major gambling bill, pensions and mental health and development centers.[4]

So far this year, there have been 37 special sessions in 25 states.

State Legislative Tracker: A glance at state legislatures
Number of special elections this year 90
Number of special sessions this year 37
Number of states that held special sessions this year 25
Number of seats up for general election this year 578

The following states also have special sessions scheduled:

  • Nebraska: To begin on November 1 to consider challenging a planned transnational oil pipeline.[5]
  • North Dakota: To begin on November 7 to conduct redistricting
  • North Carolina: To begin on November 7, but what issues they will address remains unclear[6]
  • West Virginia: To begin November 13 to certify October 4 election results and swear in Gov.-elect Earl Ray Tomblin[7]
  • Minnesota: To begin November 22 regarding Vikings Stadium.[8]
  • Washington: To begin November 28 to cut $2 billion from the budget[9]

In recess

As of October 31, 19 states' sessions are currently in mid-term recess:

  • Alaska - Mid-term recess April 18 through January 16, 2012[10]
  • California - Mid-term recess September 9 through January 4, 2012.[11]
  • Delaware - July 1, 2011 through January 10, 2012[10]
  • Georgia - Mid-term recess April 15 through January 8, 2012[10]
  • Hawaii - Mid-term recess May 6 through January 7, 2012[10]

  • Illinois - June 23 through January 12, 2012[10]
  • Iowa - Mid-term recess June 30 through January 8, 2012[10]
  • Kansas - Mid-term recess June 1 through January 8, 2012[10]
  • Maine - Mid-term recess June 30 through January 3, 2012[10]
  • Minnesota - Mid-term recess May 24 through January 23, 2012[10]

  • Tennessee - Mid-term recess May 22 through January 9, 2012[10]
  • Vermont - Mid-term recess May 7 through January 3, 2012[10]
  • Washington - Mid-term recess April 23 through January 8, 2012[10]


See also: State legislative elections, 2011
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A total of 578 seats will be up for general election in state legislatures in 2011.

In this year's 2011 election cycle, all legislative primaries have been held. New Jersey held statewide primaries on June 7, 2011, Mississippi held statewide primaries on August 2, Virginia held statewide primaries on August 23, and Louisiana held statewide primaries on October 22, 2011.

Since Louisiana uses the blanket primary system, the majority of races have been determined - a candidate winning over 50 percent in the primary wins the seat with no need for a general election. Currently, 4 Louisiana State Senate and 21 Louisiana House of Representatives races remain undecided - the top two vote getters in these races will meet in the general election on November 19, 2011.

Projected outcomes

See also: Projected outcomes of state legislative elections, 2011

An analysis of the 2011 state legislative races by Ballotpedia staff predicts Republicans will swing control of two chambers in their favor - the Virginia State Senate and the Mississippi House of Representatives. Going into the elections, Democrats hold a slight 22-18 lead in the Virginia Senate and a 68-54 lead in the Mississippi House. Both chambers have been rated as "Leans GOP."

Currently, Republicans hold a majority in 29 state senates and 30 state houses. Democrats control 19 state senate and 18 state houses. The Alaska State Senate and Oregon House of Representatives are evenly split.

Partisan Balance of All 99 Chambers Before 2011 Elections
Legislative chamber Democratic Party Republican Party Purple.png Independent
State senates 19 29 1 1
State houses 18 30 1 1
Totals: 37 59 2 2

The full list of projected outcomes for 2011 are as follows:

  • Leans Democratic:
New Jersey State Senate
New Jersey General Assembly
  • Leans GOP:
Virginia State Senate Possible Republican pickup
Mississippi State Senate
Mississippi House of Representatives Possible Republican pickup
  • Likely GOP:
Louisiana State Senate
  • Safe Republican:
Louisiana House of Representatives
Virginia House of Delegates

General election poll times

Local poll times for the three states holding general elections on November 8 are as follows:

  • Mississippi: 7 AM to 7 PM (CT)
  • New Jersey: 6 AM to 8 PM (ET)
  • Virginia: 6 AM to 7 PM (ET)

Ballotpedia will have election results that night in real-time.

Special elections

See also: State legislative special elections, 2011

There are no states holding legislative special elections this week. The next special elections will take place on November 8. On that day a total of 8 senate and 5 house seats will be up in 7 states. Seven of those seats were last held by Republicans, while six belonged to Democrats.

The most compelling race that day will be in Iowa, where partisan control of the Iowa State Senate is at stake.

Looking ahead

Upcoming special elections include:

  • November 8: Georgia House Districts 10, 25 & Senate Districts 28, 50
  • November 8: Iowa Senate District 18
  • November 8: Mississippi Senate District 8
  • November 8: Missouri House District 15, 39, 41, 83
  • November 8: Tennessee Senate District 6
  • November 8: Texas House District 14
  • November 8: Wisconsin Assembly District 95
  • November 29: Alabama House District 45

Recall elections

See also: Recall campaigns in Arizona and Recall campaigns in Michigan

Currently, 18 states permit the recall of state officials. This year has seen a flurry of recall activity take place, most notably in Wisconsin, Michigan, and Arizona. In Wisconsin, nine state senators faced recall elections this past summer, resulting in the removal of two Republicans from office. Dozens of state legislators in Michigan were targeted for recall, but only one campaign successfully made the ballot.

On November 8, 2011, there will be two state legislative recall elections.

  • Arizona: State Senate President Russell Pearce (R) faces recall over his efforts against illegal immigration, especially controversial legislation SB 1070.
  • Michigan: Representative Paul Scott (R) faces recall over his support for cuts to education.