The NCSL Blog


By Wendy Underhill

NCSL often counts heads, chambers, legislatures and states by party.

statevote2018 logoNow that the general election is just 73 days away, it’s worth a quick review of those four measures. Note that NCSL does not include Nebraska in these calculations—because its legislators are elected on a nonpartisan basis, it’s not fair to include the Cornhuskers in a partisan analysis.

  • Legislators (7,334 total, excluding Nebraska’s 49): 4,104 Republicans; 3,122 Democrats; 108 other or vacant
  • Legislative chambers (98 total): 65 Republican; 31 Democrat, 2 tied
  • Legislatures (where both chambers are held by the same party, 49 total): 31 Republicans; 14 Democrats; 4 divided
  • States (where one party holds both chambers and the governor’s office, 49 total): 25 Republicans; 8 Democrats; 16 divided

What we don’t always count are states where one party can override a veto on its own. Given how strong Republican control is now, we decided to take a look: The answer is 20.

Brenda Erickson, NCSL’s expert on legislative process, says 20 states meeting veto-proof requirements is surprisingly high. She also reports that what constitutes an override majority depends on the exact circumstances. See this blog for a deeper explanation.

Map of veto-proof statesThe next surprise: Of those 20 states, 17 are red, with Massachusetts, Hawaii and Rhode Island the only blue states with veto-proof majorities. Or maybe that’s not a surprise at all, looking at the numbers of legislators, chambers, legislatures and states Republicans now control.

The election in November is likely to lead to some rollback for Republicans, says NCSL’s politics expert Tim Storey. The theory is that when you’re at an all-time historic high, the pendulum is likely to swing. (A lot of other factors are in play, too, including the Trump effect. Hear Storey’s pre-election analysis at 27:00.) His analysis indicates the swing may not be wide enough to change control in more than a handful of chambers.

What seems likely to change is the number of states where the GOP has override power.

We’ll be counting heads—and more—on the night of Nov. 6. For now, here’s more on NCSL’s 2018 election coverage.

Wendy Underhill is NCSL’s director of redistricting and elections.

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About the NCSL Blog

This blog offers updates on the National Conference of State Legislatures' research and training, the latest on federalism and the state legislative institution, and posts about state legislators and legislative staff. The blog is edited by NCSL staff and written primarily by NCSL's experts on public policy and the state legislative institution.