State government trifectas
In other words, a trifecta occurs when there is no divided government. The concept of the trifecta is important in state lawmaking because in many states, the governor, senate majority leader and house majority leader play decisive roles in the legislative process.
As of March 2015 there are 36 total trifectas.
The 36 trifectas is the most across the country in more than 60 years and represents a growing shift away from divided government. There are two additional "elected trifectas" -- however, power-sharing complexities have removed those states from the trifecta count.
Trifectas can be further analyzed by adding in an additional dataset -- State Supreme Court's. In some states, the State Supreme Court justice is elected on a partisan ticket, while in some cases the elected justices are non-partisan. Still in other states, the justices are appointed. However, in many cases, there is an effective understanding that a working majority of the court sides with either conservative or progressive issues.
A Trifecta Plus for the Democratic Party is a state with a Trifecta and a working majority of the State's High Court that tends to support progressive jurisprudence. A Trifecta Plus for the GOP is a state with a Trifecta and a working majority of the State's High Court that tends to support conservative/libertarian jurisprudence.
Based upon judicial analysis, there are 22 states where the State Supreme Court can be labeled as leaning in one direction or the other. Incorporating the trifecta data, the following is a breakdown of the states with a Trifecta Plus, as of December 2012.
Democratic Trifecta Plus
Republican Trifecta Plus
The judicial landscape of the courts is based upon the Democratic Judicial Campaign Committee's analysis.
Trifectas and supermajorities
In addition to having a trifecta, it is also worth exploring which states have supermajorities. The supermajority allows a party in power to further exert its influence over the minority party.
As of December 2012, there are 21 states with a trifecta and a supermajority and 15 states with a trifecta but no legislative supermajority. The breakdown is as follows:
Heading into the 2012 elections there were 33 total trifectas in the United States. After the election, there were five new trifectas, bringing the total to 38 trifectas. However, following the election, power-sharing arrangements in two states reduced the total trifectas to 36.
There are three states that complicate the labeling of trifectas. These three unique situations brought the total trifectas from 37 to 36, decreasing the Democratic states by two and adding one GOP state.
- In New York, the Democratic party by virtue of the elections controls all three levels of government. However, a power-sharing agreement was reached that gave control of the State Senate over to the Republicans, after five elected Democrats pledged to caucus with the GOP. This burst the Democratic trifecta, reducing the total trifectas by one state.
- In Virginia, the State Senate is a tied chamber as a result of the 2011 elections. However, the tiebreaking vote is cast by the Lieutenant Governor, who is a Republican. Thus, control of the Governorship and state legislature effectively rests with the Republicans. This gives Republicans an additional trifecta, increasing the total trifectas by one state.
- In Washington, the Democratic by virtue of the elections controls all three levels of government. However, a power-sharing agreement was reached that gave control of the State Senate over to the Republicans, after two conservative Democrats pledged to elected Republican leadership to the chamber. This burst the Democratic trifecta, reducing the total trifectas by one state.
|Trifectas Before and After the 2012 Election|
Heading into the 2010 elections there were 25 total trifectas in the United States. After the election, there were seven new trifectas, bringing the total to 32 trifectas.
|Trifectas Before and After the 2012 Election|
| By Geoff Pallay|
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- State legislative elections, 2014
- State legislative elections, 2013
- State legislative elections, 2012
- State legislative elections, 2010
- Gubernatorial elections, 2014
- Gubernatorial elections, 2013
- Gubernatorial elections, 2012
- Gubernatorial elections, 2010
- Washington Times "Rising number of states seeing one-party rule," November 10, 2012
- CNBC "One-Party Control Opens States to Partisan Rush," November 23, 2012
- Democratic Judicial Campaign Committee "Judicial Landscape," Accessed December 2012
- NCSL "Half the States will Have Veto-Proof Majorities," November 27, 2012
- National Journal "GOP, IDC Strike Deal on NY Senate Power Sharing," December 4, 2012
- NBC 10 "Republicans take control of Va. Senate," January 11, 2012
- Washington Secretary of State "GOP-led coalition grabs power in WA Senate," December 10, 2012