Democratic and Republican state government trifectas heading into the 2010 elections

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2012


By Leslie Graves and Geoff Pallay

A "trifecta" is when one political party holds these three positions in a state's government:

The concept of the trifecta is important in redistricting because in many states, the governor, senate majority leader and house majority leader play decisive roles in the reapportionment process.

Prior to the November 2, 2010 elections, there's a "trifecta" in 24 states. 16 of these are Democratic trifectas and 8 are Republican trifectas.

Our analysis indicates that the Democratic Party may lose up to 4 trifectas and the Republican Party may gain as many as 9. These projections are less stable than projections for individual elections, since they rely on combinations of three underlying projections.

Current trifectas

Trifectas leading into the November 2 election
(Click to enlarge)

Note: In states with redistricting commissions, the influence of the governor and state legislative leaders over the process of reapportionment is more limited. Exactly how limited it is depends on the specific way that redistricting commissions are designed in the 13 states that have them. (21 states have redistricting commissions, if those with purely advisory commissions are counted.) The charts below indicate whether or not a state has a redistricting commission.

Democratic

State Governor State Senate State House Redistricting commission
Arkansas Gov / Beebe AK Senate AK House Yes
Colorado Gov / Ritter CO Senate CO House Yes
Delaware Gov / Markell DE Senate DE House
Illinois Gov / Quinn IL Senate IL House Advisory
Iowa Gov / Chet Culver IA Senate IA House Unique
Maine Gov / Baldacci ME Senate ME House Advisory
Maryland Gov / O'Malley MD Senate MD House
Massachusetts Gov / Patrick MA Senate MA House
New Hampshire Gov / Lynch NH Senate NH House
New Mexico Gov / Richardson NM Senate NM House
New York Gov / Paterson NY Senate NY House
North Carolina Gov / Perdue NC Senate NC House
Oregon Gov / Kulongoski OR Senate OR House
Washington Gov / Gregoire WA Senate WA House Yes
West Virginia Gov / Manchin WV Senate WV House
Wisconsin Gov / Doyle WI Senate WI House

Republican

Note: The Republican Party lost Florida as a trifecta when Gov. Charlie Crist left the party in early 2010 and became an Independent.

State Governor State Senate State House Redistricting commission
Arizona Gov / Brewer AZ Senate AZ House Yes
Georgia Gov / Perdue GA Senate GA House
Idaho Gov / Otter ID Senate ID House Yes
North Dakota Gov / Hoeven ND Senate ND House
South Carolina Gov / Sanford SC Senate SC House
South Dakota Gov / Rounds SD Senate SD House
Texas Gov / Perry TX Senate TX House Advisory
Utah Gov / Herbert UT Senate UT House

Projected post-election trifectas

The chart below assesses the likelihood of a single-party trifecta in each of the 50 states based on three factors:

Projected Democratic trifectas Projected GOP trifectas
Safe D Likely D Leans D Leans R Likely R Safe R
2 3 7 5 3 9
Leans/likely/safe D total: 12 Leans/likely/safe R totals: 17

Pre- and post-election comparison

The Democratic Party may lose about 4 trifectas from the 16 it currently holds, while the Republican Party may gain 9 from the 8 it currently holds.

Trifectas
Party Before election Congressional seats Projected post-election Congressional seats Gain/loss states Gain/loss congressional seats
Democratic
16 131 12 109 - 4 -22
Republican
8 66 17 157 + 9 + 91

Projection for each state

     Safe D/D incumbent not up in 2010     Likely D     Leans D     Toss-Up     Leans I     Leans R     Likely R     Safe R/R incumbent not up in 2010

In this chart, each state is given a potential trifecta score at its weakest R or D color, if all the colors are D or R. If any of the colors conflict, this cell is white, to indicate the very low likelihood of a trifecta in that state. A state can be predominantly R or D, but if one of the three races is ranked as a toss-up, it is ranked in this chart as having a low likelihood of gaining a trifecta. (This applies to 5 states.) The column for electoral votes reflects the pre-2010 census electoral vote division.

State Governor State Senate State House Trifecta? # of U.S. Congressional seats
Alabama 7
Alaska 1
Arizona 8
Arkansas 4
California 53
Colorado 7
Connecticut 5
Delaware 1
Florida 25
Georgia 13
Hawaii 2
Idaho 2
Illinois 19
Indiana 9
Iowa 5
Kansas 4
Kentucky 6
Louisiana 7
Maine 2
Maryland 8
Massachusetts 10
Michigan 15
Minnesota 8
Mississippi 4
Missouri 9
Montana 1
Nebraska Non-partisan NA 3
Nevada 3
New Hampshire 2
New Jersey 13
New Mexico 3
New York 29
North Carolina 13
North Dakota 1
Ohio 18
Oklahoma 5
Oregon 5
Pennsylvania 19
Rhode Island 2
South Carolina 6
South Dakota 1
Tennessee 9
Texas 32
Utah 3
Vermont 1
Virginia 11
Washington 9
West Virginia 3
Wisconsin 8
Wyoming 1
Projections of Partisan Breakdown by State after 2010 Election
Party Governor State Senate State House Trifecta
Democratic Party 19 21 23 12
Republican Party 30 22 21 17

States with potential trifectas

Republican potentials

State Governor State Senate State House Trifecta? # of U.S. Congressional seats
Alaska 1
Arizona 8
Florida 25
Georgia 13
Idaho 2
Indiana 9
Kansas 4
North Dakota 1
Ohio 18
Oklahoma 5
Pennsylvania 19
South Carolina 6
South Dakota 1
Tennessee 9
Texas 32
Utah 3
Wyoming 1
17
Total: 157

Democratic potentials

State Governor State Senate State House Trifecta? # of U.S. Congressional seats
Arkansas 4
California 53
Connecticut 5
Delaware 1
Hawaii 2
Maryland 8
Massachusetts 10
Minnesota 8
Oregon 5
Vermont 1
Washington 9
West Virginia 3
12
Total: 109