The NCSL Blog


By Tim Storey and Wendy Underhill

For the visual learners out there, compare the postelection map of legislative control against the map of preelection control. Can you spot the differences? Probably not.

At this point there are very few changes. That is phenomenal in and of itself.

election 2020 states legislative partisan control

NCSL has confirmed just two legislative chambers that have switched party control. The New Hampshire Senate and House moved from Democratic control to Republican control—after both went the other way in 2018. Democrats could still win the Arizona House for the first time since 1966 or the Arizona Senate for the first time since 1992—votes are still being counted.

But of the chambers we can call, we have zero changes so far. In other words, this appears to be a remarkably status quo election in the U.S. states.

With just two chamber flips so far, it looks like 2020 will see the least party control changes on Election Day since at least 1944 when only four chambers changed hands. In the 1926 and 1928 elections, only one chamber changed hands.

Even adding in the governors’ races leads to very little  change in the state partisan landscape. There was only one party change among the chief executives, and that was in the open governor’s race in Montana. Term-limited Democratic Governor Steve Bullock ran for (and lost) the U.S. Senate, and Republican candidate Greg Gianforte took the mansion back for the GOP.

Between New Hampshire and Montana, Republicans picked up two new trifectas.

Right now, Minnesota remains the only state in the nation with divided legislative control. That could change if only one of the Arizona chambers flips; we’ll know soon enough.

As it stands now, the big news on the state front is that after all the furor, campaign spending, and GOTV efforts, the political landscape has barely budged.

Tim Storey is NCSL's executive director.

Wendy Underhill is NCSL's diector of 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.