The NCSL Blog


By Wendy Underhill

When it’s campaign season for legislators, it’s election prep season at NCSL.

Ballot going into box logoWe are gearing up to watch the races that matter for our community—the 5,876 regularly scheduled legislative races taking place in 44 states, plus the 11 governor’s races. Let’s just say, we care about the states.

Others—FiveThirtyEight, The Cook Political Report, Sabato’s Crystal Ball—focus mostly on D.C. That’s great. It’s their job and we let them do it. But when it comes to the states, NCSL is your source. Tim Storey, NCSL's executive director, has been watching politics at the state level since 1990, and no one in the nation has a better read on the states.

We’ve also got the goods on legislative power through the decades, with data reaching back to 1900. (Fun fact: The GOP is riding high now, with control in 59 legislative chambers, compared to 39 for the Democrats, but that’s nothing compared to 1974, when Democrats controlled 78 chambers.)

Then there are statewide ballot measures—those policy choices voters decide whether the measures are put on the ballot by the legislatures or, in 24 states, by citizen initiatives campaigns. We’ve got this year’s 124 measures, eight that were decided in the 2020 primaries and every single citizen initiative going back to 1902 all captured in our Statewide Ballot Measures Database.

And, NCSL has become the nation’s keeper of information on voting policies. In most election years, that’s of little consequence when it comes time to consider an election, but this year, administrative choices are front-page news.

All these bits—political power in the states, statewide ballot measures and state-specific election laws—are gathered in our new State Elections 2020 webpage. Check it out, and a State Legislatures feature article, State Elections 2020: A Voting Year Unlike Any Other.

Wendy Underhill is the director of elections and redistricting at NCSL.

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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.