The NCSL Blog


By Wendy Underhill

Democrats scored significant wins Tuesday in 2018 legislative elections—but it was hardly a blowout. Republicans continue to have a robust advantage in legislative and state control, as they have since 2010. And the elections held few surprises.

statevote logoDemocrats won five legislative chambers from Republicans as well as moving the Connecticut Senate from tied to their column. 

That’s a shift of only six chambers, well below the average chamber switch of 12 in election cycles all the way back to 1900.

Democrats can also boast of winning functional control of the New York Senate. It has long been numerically a Democratic chamber, but a Republican-led coalition held power. Now, the Senate is numerically and effectively Democratic. The reverse occurred in the Alaska House where a small group of renegade Republicans had allied with Democrats to lead the chamber. Tuesday’s results mark the end of the Democratic-led coalition.

As for the surprise, it is that only one legislature in the nation is divided: Minnesota, where the House is Democratic and the Senate is Republican. The last time there was only one divided state legislature was over 100 years ago in 1914.

Here are the five legislative chambers that flipped from Republican to Democratic:

  • Colorado’s Senate
  • Maine’s Senate
  • Minnesota’s House
  • Both chambers in New Hampshire.

That’s minor compared to the first Obama midterm in 2010, when Democrats lost 24 chambers. 

See a map of new party control in legislatures and at the state level (counting in the governors) at NCSL’s StateVote 2018.

As the day goes on, NCSL is continuing to gather exact numbers of D and R legislators, results of statewide ballot measures, and what this all means for legislative action in the new year.

Additional Resources

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.