Partisan balance of legislatures and 2010 competitiveness

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2010 Competitiveness Overview
Competitiveness logo 4.jpg
Primary competition (state comparison)
Incumbents with no primary challenge in 2010
Incumbents with no challenges at all in 2010
Incumbents defeatedVictorious challengers
Major party challengers (state comparison)
List of candidates with no competition
Open seats (state comparisons)
Impact of term limits on # of open seats
Long-serving senatorsLong-serving reps
Star bookmark.png   Results Comparisons  Star bookmark.png
Chart Comparing 2011 ResultsComparisons Between Years
Party differences
Competitiveness Index
2010 State Legislative Elections
Competitiveness Studies from Other Years
6,125 seats of the country's 7,384 state legislative seats are up for election in the 2010 state legislative elections.

This includes:

There are 6,125 state legislative districts with a seat up for election on November 2, 2010, in 46 states. We took a look at each of the 46 states to see how many state legislative incumbents chose to run for re-election in 2010.

Our main findings:

Overall, the competitive analysis leans in the Republican's favor going into the elections -- meaning Democrats have a higher likelihood of losing seats because of the following factors:

  • There are 46 more Democratic incumbents than Republicans that have vacated their seats.
  • There are 112 more Democratic incumbents than Republicans that faced a primary.
  • There are 134 more Republican candidates than Democrats that face no major party competition in the general election.

All of that points toward a greater likelihood that Republicans may win back more seats in the election.

State partisan balance and competitiveness

Of the 10 most competitive states:

  • Democratic Party 5 are currently controlled by Democrats
  • Republican Party 2 are currently controlled by Republicans
  • Purple.png 2 are split Democrat/Republican
  • Greendot.png 1 is non-partisan.

Of the 10 least competitive states:

  • Democratic Party 4 are currently controlled by Democrats
  • Republican Party 3 are currently controlled by Republicans
  • Purple.png 3 are split Democrat/Republican
Competitiveness logo 4.jpg

Based on our competitiveness index, the most competitive states are the ones that are more likely to change party hands. The least competitive states are likely to remain in whatever party control is currently in power. Below are the rankings of the competitiveness of states along with whether it is controlled by Democrats, Republicans, or split houses.

State Competitiveness rank Party in power
Alabama 22 Democratic Party
Alaska 31 Purple.png
Arizona 3 Republican Party
Arkansas 33 Democratic Party
California 11 Democratic Party
Colorado 21 Democratic Party
Connecticut 36 Democratic Party
Delaware 44 Democratic Party
Florida 17 Republican Party
Georgia 28 Republican Party
Hawaii 6 Democratic Party
Idaho 30 Republican Party
Illinois 39 Democratic Party
Indiana 37 Purple.png
Iowa 29 Democratic Party
Kansas 34 Republican Party
Kentucky 43 Purple.png
Maine 14 Democratic Party
Maryland 5 Democratic Party
Massachusetts 40 Democratic Party
Michigan 2 Purple.png
Minnesota 24 Democratic Party
Missouri 20 Republican Party
Montana 12 Purple.png
Nebraska 7 Greendot.png
Nevada 4 Democratic Party
New Hampshire 1 Democratic Party
New Mexico 42 Democratic Party
New York 13 Democratic Party
North Carolina 19 Democratic Party
North Dakota 25 Republican Party
Ohio 8 Purple.png
Oklahoma 32 Republican Party
Oregon 27 Democratic Party
Pennsylvania 38 Purple.png
Rhode Island 15 Democratic Party
South Carolina 41 Republican Party
South Dakota 18 Republican Party
Tennessee 45 Republican Party
Texas 46 Republican Party
Utah 10 Republican Party
Vermont 35 Democratic Party
Washington 26 Democratic Party
West Virginia 9 Democratic Party
Wisconsin 16 Democratic Party
Wyoming 23 Republican Party
Totals: 1,167 23 Democratic Party 14 Republican Party

Partisan composition of chambers

Heading into the 2010 elections, this was the breakdown of partisan control of each chamber:

Democratic Party = Democratic Party holds majority position • Republican Party = Republican Party holds majority position
Constitution_Party#Independent_American_Party_of_Nevada = Political parties tied for partisan control • Independent = Officially non-partisan chamber

Partisan dominance in state legislatures
heading into the 2010 state legislative elections
Nevada State LegislatureMassachusetts General CourtColorado General AssemblyNew Mexico State LegislatureWyoming State LegislatureArizona State LegislatureMontana State LegislatureCalifornia State LegislatureOregon State LegislatureWashington State LegislatureIdaho State LegislatureTexas State LegislatureOklahoma State LegislatureKansas State LegislatureNebraska State Senate (Unicameral)South Dakota State LegislatureNorth Dakota State LegislatureMinnesota State LegislatureIowa State LegislatureMissouri State LegislatureArkansas State LegislatureLouisiana State LegislatureMississippi State LegislatureAlabama State LegislatureGeorgia State LegislatureFlorida State LegislatureSouth Carolina State LegislatureIllinois State LegislatureWisconsin State LegislatureTennessee State LegislatureNorth Carolina State LegislatureIndiana State LegislatureOhio State LegislatureKentucky State LegislaturePennsylvania State LegislatureNew Jersey State LegislatureNew York State LegislatureVermont State LegislatureVermont State LegislatureNew Hampshire State LegislatureMaine State LegislatureWest Virginia State LegislatureVirginia State LegislatureMaryland State LegislatureMaryland State LegislatureConnecticut State LegislatureConnecticut State LegislatureDelaware State LegislatureDelaware State LegislatureRhode Island State LegislatureRhode Island State LegislatureMassachusetts State LegislatureNew Hampshire State LegislatureMichigan State LegislatureMichigan State LegislatureAlaska State LegislaturePartisan Breakdown State Legislatures2.jpg
Legislative chamber Democratic Party Republican Party Constitution_Party#Independent_American_Party_of_Nevada Independent
State senates 23 18 1 1
State houses 29 15 1 -
Totals: 52 33 2 1

The 2010 elections could swing a number of chambers. Our research indicates that certain chambers might have a greater likelihood of swinging to a different party.

Term limits

Republicans take more of a hit from term limits in this year's election. This is both in terms of how many individual incumbent legislators the Republican Party is losing (190, versus 182 for the Democratic Party) and in terms of how many state legislative chambers are losing more Republicans (13, versus 10 for the Democratic Party).

Additionally, term limits prove to be a unique scenario for competitiveness.

  • There are 13 more Republican incumbents than Democrats that have vacated their seats.
  • There are 25 more Republican incumbents than Democrats that faced a primary.
  • There are 36 more Republican incumbents than Democrats that face no primary or general election competition.

Thus, in two out of the three categories in term limited states, Republicans face a steeper climb to gaining back any more legislative seats.

2010 State senate elections
Parties with candidates
Impact of term limits
Successful challengers
Defeated incumbents
State house elections
State senate elections
State legislative elections

Term limited Senates

Below is the comparison of term-limited states and non-term-limited state senates.

Open seats Incumbents facing primary Incumbents w/no primary or general election
Democrats Democratic Party 75 7 11
Republicans Republican Party 82 15 16
Independents Independent 3 13 8
Total 164 35 137

Non-Term limited Senates

Open seats Incumbents facing primary Incumbents w/no primary or general election
Democrats Democratic Party 63 89 74
Republicans Republican Party 45 62 102
Independents Independent 0 0 0
Total 109 151 176

See also