The NCSL Blog


By Wendy Underhill

Election 2018 is three weeks away.

StateVote 2018 logoWhen it’s over, 6,069 legislative seats in 87 legislative chambers (in 46 states) will be filled. That’s 82 percent of all legislative seats—a big deal. An even bigger deal is what the tally of those results will mean: who will hold the reins of state power, come the start of next year’s legislative sessions.

From NCSL’s perspective, a big deal, a big day and a late night for us. NCSL’s team won’t be hosting a watch party—we’ll be hosting a data gathering and analysis mission where we'll be tracking partisan control of individual chambers so that on the morning of Nov. 7, we can provide a clear picture of which party has gained or lost.

A hint: Given a strong historical trend, the party that holds the White House almost always loses seats in midterms, so that means Republicans are on the defensive. Funny to put it that way, though, when the GOP currently controls two-thirds of legislative chambers, with majorities so high many will be hard to flip.

Here’s where we stand going into the election:

  • Legislators: 56 percent Republican, 44 percent Democrat, with a smattering of vacancies and independents
  • Legislative chambers: 65 legislative chambers are held by Republicans, 31 are held by Democrats and two are tied
  • Legislatures as a whole:  Both chambers are held by Republicans in 31 states, both are held by Democrats in 14 states and four are split between Ds and Rs
  • State control (including both chambers and the governor): Republicans hold all the power in 25 states, Democrats in eight states and governance is divided in 16 states.

For more pre-election analysis, go to NCSL’s StateVote 2018, NCSL’s State Legislatures magazine article, A Wave or a Wash? or Larry Sabato’s Crystal Ball for an NCSL guest post on the legislative line-up.

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

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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.