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Partisan Control

There are two types of partisan control: legislative control and state control.

  • Legislative control: When the same party holds both chambers, that party has legislative control. When the chambers are held by different parties, state control is divided.
  • State control: When the same party holds both legislative chambers and the governorship, that party has state control. When any of those three points of power is held by another party, control is divided.

Preelection legislative and state party composition is shown in this table and in the maps below 

Democrats Make Gains, Republicans Retain Edge

It’s been a good election, and a surprising one, for Democrats in statehouses. Four Republican-held chambers flipped to blue in this election: The Michigan House, Michigan Senate, Minnesota House and Pennsylvania House.

And yet, as they have since 2010, Republicans continue their robust dominance over the 50-state landscape.

Going into the election, Republicans controlled 62 legislative chambers to the Democrats’ 37. (Nebraska’s unicameral and nonpartisan legislature is not part of that count, hence the total of 98 chambers. Unofficially, Nebraska's legislature is controlled by Republicans.)

At the same time states held elections, so too did the District of Columbia and the U.S. territories of American Samoa, Guam, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

With the four flips, the final count is 58 Republican-controlled to 41 Democratic-controlled. A change of four chambers in an election (or five chambers over a two-year cycle, including the Virginia House that shifted from red to blue in 2021) is minimal. Over the last 120 years, on average 12 chambers have flipped in each two-year cycle.

Compared to recent election cycles, this year is on the low end of normal for recent political shake-ups at the state level. In 2019 and 2020 together, four chambers flipped. In 2017 and 2018, six chambers flipped. And in 2015 and 2016, nine chambers flipped.

With Minnesota’s House joining the Minnesota Senate under Democratic control, now Pennsylvania and Virginia are the nation’s only split legislatures going into 2023. The number hit a decades-long low in 2020, when only Minnesota was split; between 2000 and 2018, it averaged 7.7, and other than 2020, the last time it was that low was in 1914.

What about the race against expectations, given this is a midterm? The party of the president has lost state legislative seats in all but two of the previous midterm elections, dating back to 1902. (Curious? 1932, when Roosevelt’s Democrats swept the nation, and 2002, after 9/11.) Here, too, the story isn’t yet fully told.

While some races are in recounts and have yet to be certified, the estimated final count is 4033 Republicans, 3278 Democrats and 74 legislators who are either third-party, unaffiliated or nonpartisan. One race, in New Hampshire, is tied; the legislature will decide how to break the tie in the coming weeks. (Find NCSL's list of anticipated legislative leaders for the 2023 session.)

Divided State Government Down

Adding in the governors, state control is more unified in either the blue or the red column than ever, and the number of divided state governments is lower than ever.

As expected, when incumbent governors were on the ballot, they (almost always) won. Political control shifted in three open races, in Arizona, Maryland and Massachusetts. In all cases, Republican governors were replaced by Democrats. Only one incumbent governor lost reelection, Democrat Steve Sisolak of Nevada.

Before the election, Republicans had full control in 23 states, Democrats had full control in 14 states, and 13 had divided control—where one of the power positions (governor, House, Senate) is controlled by one party and the other two by the other party. The Maryland and Massachusetts results, along with Minnesota and Minnesota shifting to Democrats and Nevada shifting to divided control, put the party at 17. Republicans continue to hold 22 states, and the number of divided states is down to 10. That’s the lowest since 1952, when eight states had divided state control. Between 2000 and 2010, there were always 20 or more divided states.

Veto-Proof Majorities, Leaders, Women and More

At least half the nation’s legislatures are on track to have veto-proof majorities next year, giving America’s first branch of government more control than ever over policymaking. Before the election, 21 states had such majorities: 15 for Republicans and six for Democrats. Post-election, five more are all but certain: Vermont, Delaware and Illinois for Democrats, and Florida and Ohio for Republicans. Find further NCSL analysis on veto-proof majorities.

This election was good for incumbent leaders. No top leaders (House speakers and top Senate majority leaders) have been defeated. That doesn’t mean there isn’t lots of change coming in legislative leadership, though. Before Election Day, at least 32 of the top leadership positions in the country were bound to be held by someone new in 2023 due to retirements, term limits and leaders choosing to run for a different office. Check out NCSL's list of anticipated legislative leaders for the 2023 session, and analysis on leaders’ elections.

The percentage of women serving in legislatures continues rising: Just over 30% of all legislators before the election, and now 32%. We expect women in the Nevada House and Senate to make up 38 seats, 60% of the total 63 seats. The Colorado House also has 60% women legislators (39 of the 65 representatives). Women will hold 50% of the seats in New Mexico’s House, and the Oregon House is expected to have the same. While most states have stayed steady in the number of women legislators, Delaware, Florida, Idaho and Nebraska showed a bump in their representation. Florida, Kentucky and Ohio’s women are mostly from the Republican side of the aisle.


Ballot Measures

On Nov. 8, voters decided 133 ballot measures. Earlier this year, voters weighed in on five measures, and Louisianans will see three more in December, bringing the 2022 total to 141.

Most measures get on the ballot in one of two ways: Through a citizen initiative—where citizens have an idea for a statutory or constitutional change and gather signatures to place it on the ballot—or through a referral to the ballot from the legislature. Occasionally, voters try to repeal a law passed by the legislature, and that is known as a popular referendum or people’s veto. This year voters across the nation considered:

  • 104 legislative referrals in 35 states.
  • 29 citizen initiatives in 12 states and Washington, D.C.
  • Two popular referenda—one each in California and Massachusetts.
  • Three automatic questions in Alaska, Missouri and New Hampshire asking voters if they’d like to have a constitutional convention. Voters said no to all three.
  • Three non-binding advisory questions: One in Idaho and two in Washington, which are automatically referred to the ballot whenever the Evergreen State’s legislature passes a bill creating or increasing taxes or fees.

Information about all individual ballot measures can be found on NCSL’s statewide ballot measure database.

Legislatures and Legislators

Voters across the country decided at least 12 measures related to legislatures and legislators—far higher than in most years—and most were unsurprisingly referred to voters by the legislators themselves. ArkansasIdaho and Kentucky all sought permission from voters to call themselves into special session, rather than requiring the call to come from the governor; read more about these measures in State Legislatures News. Arkansas and Kentucky voters said no, while Idaho said yes.

Three states—Kansas, Louisiana (two measures) and West Virginia—aimed to increase legislative oversight of various government entities or proceedings: The efforts failed in Kansas and West Virginia and won’t be decided until the December general election for Louisiana. North Dakotans approved an initiative to establish term limits for state legislators and governors. And in Michigan, voters also said yes to legislative term limits, changing the threshold from three two-year terms in the House and two four-year terms in the Senate (14 years total) to a combined 12 years. 

Eligibility requirements were on the ballot in two states. Maryland voters decided state legislators must reside and maintain a residence in the district that they wish to represent for six months before an election. Tennessee voters removed the constitutional provision disqualifying religious ministers from being elected to the state legislature. Voters also decided new penalties for legislators in two states. Georgians approved a measure to suspend the pay of assemblymembers and other public officials if they are indicted for a felony. And in Oregon, voters passed a citizen initiative that will disqualify state legislators from re-election if they have 10 or more unexcused absences from floor sessions.


Abortion often features on voter’s ballots, and this year—in the wake of the Supreme Court overruling Roe v. Wade—voters saw six: the most abortion-related ballot measures ever in a single year. Kansas voters rejected an anti-abortion measure during the state’s Aug. 2 primary. That pro-choice trend looks to have continued in November. Voters approved constitutional rights to abortion in CaliforniaMichigan and Vermont. And two measures establishing abortion restrictions—legislative referrals in  Kentucky and Montana—fell short.


In Oregon, voters approved a constitutional right to affordable health care. South Dakotans approved a citizen initiative to expand Medicaid, making it the 39th to expand Medicaid in the Affordable Care Act era. Arizonans passed a citizen initiative limiting interest rates on health care debt. And in California, voters rejected a citizen initiative related to dialysis clinic requirements—while not a common topic for ballot measures in other states, dialysis has been on the Golden State’s ballots for the last three general elections.

Drugs and Alcohol

Voters in five states were split on recreational marijuana this year: Maryland and Missouri said yes; ArkansasNorth Dakota and South Dakota said no.

Coloradans approved an initiative to decriminalize certain psychedelic plants such as psilocybin; the first statewide measure on psilocybin passed in Oregon in 2020. Voters in the Centennial State also saw three initiatives relating to alcohol. They rejected an increase in liquor store licenses and authorization for alcohol delivery services, while narrowly passing a measure on grocery store wine sales. And Californians upheld a popular referendum banning the sale of flavored tobacco products.

Civil and Criminal Justice

Over the past few years, there has been a small trend to remove from state constitutions provisions that permit slavery or involuntary servitude as punishments for a crime. Voters in three states—OregonTennessee and Vermont—voted to remove such language. Louisiana voters rejected a similar measure after the original sponsor started campaigning against it on the grounds that the final language was confusing and could lead to interpretations other than the initial intent.

Two states made changes to bail. In Alabama, voters decided to allow the state legislature to create criminal offenses for which bail may be denied. In Ohio, a measure requiring judges to set bail amounts based on public safety considerations passed. Another Alabama measure also passed, which requires the governor to provide notice to a victim’s family before commuting a death sentence. And in Montana, voters approved a legislatively referred measure that will require a search warrant to access a person’s electronic data—Michigan voters approved a similar measure in 2020.


Minimum wage increases fared well this year, succeeding in all three races. Nebraskans passed a citizen initiative to increase the minimum wage to $15/hour by 2026, and Washington, D.C., residents approved an initiative increasing the tipped minimum wage of $5.05 to match the non-tipped minimum wage by 2027. In Nevada, voters passed a legislative referral that will increase the minimum wage to $12/hour by July 2024. Read more about the minimum wage measures in State Legislatures News. There were also two union-related measures on the ballot this year—both referred to voters by legislatures. Illinois voters approved a constitutional right to collective bargaining. And Tennessee voters enshrined the state’s “right to work” law in the constitution.


Several measures related to education this year. With bipartisan support, the Arizona legislature referred a question to voters asking if non-citizens should receive in-state college tuition. Voters said yes, repealing a previous measure approved in 2006 that prevented non-citizens from receiving in-state tuition. Four measures passed that increased education funding, primarily through income tax increases or bond measures, in CaliforniaColoradoMassachusetts and New Mexico. And in West Virginia, voters rejected a question from the legislature that would have required legislative approval of any proposed rules from the state board of education.


Taxes are always on the ballot. Several of the education measures in the previous section would increase taxes on certain income brackets. Property taxes, though, are by far the most common type of tax measure on voters’ ballots this year—and most are exemptions or reductions. They passed in ArizonaColoradoGeorgiaLouisiana and Texas; failed in West Virginia. Two measures sought notable changes to property taxes in the face of natural disasters: a Florida measure allowing flood resistance improvements to be disregarded when assessing property value fell short of the needed 60% to pass, and in Georgia, voters overwhelmingly approved temporary property tax changes for areas damaged by disasters.

Other significant tax-related measures include a failed citizen initiative in California that would have taxed incomes above $2 million to fund zero-emission vehicle projects and wildfire prevention programs and an approved Colorado initiative that lowers the state income tax from 4.55% to 4.4%. In 2020, voters approved a similar income tax deduction placed on the ballot by the same sponsors.


Alabama voters said yes to local governments using American Rescue Plan Act funds for broadband internet infrastructure. New Mexicans considered not just broadband infrastructure, but natural gas, electric, water and more when they approved a measure authorizing the legislature to provide funds for household services infrastructure. And in New York, voters passed a bond measure to fund water infrastructure, climate change mitigation and land conservation projects.


Elections are a huge topic this year, featuring in a dozen different measures. An Arizona measure failed that would have made several changes to the state’s voter identification laws, including requiring voters using mail ballots to provide a birth date and voter ID number. Nebraskans approved an initiative to require photo ID at the polls, making the Cornhusker State the 36th with a voter ID law. Voters approved a legislatively referred measure in Connecticut amending the state constitution and paving the way for the legislature to enact early in-person voting.

In Nevada, an initiative to establish open top-five primaries and ranked-choice voting for general elections passed—but will need to pass again in 2024 before it can go into effect. No state currently uses top-five primaries, though California and Washington use a “top two” system, and Alaska uses “top four.” 

In Michigan, voters said yes to sweeping changes to the state’s voting policies—including authorizing drop boxes, establishing nine days of early voting, allowing military and overseas ballots to be counted if postmarked by Election Day and requiring public disclosure of donations used to pay for elections or audits. Alabama voters passed a measure that will require any election law changes to be implemented at least six months before the next general election. Arizona voters approved a campaign finance initiative setting new disclosure requirements for independent expenditures. And voters in Ohio decided to prohibit non-citizens from voting in local elections—a controversial topic that will also be on the ballot in Louisiana in December. Read more about these measures in State Legislatures News.

Direct Democracy

Sometimes ballot measures, particularly citizen initiatives, are the subject of ballot measures—and this year there were more than usual. Three measures aimed to raise the vote threshold for some ballot measures from a simple majority to 60%. Arkansas and South Dakota rejected the change; Arizona approved it. Arizonans saw two additional measures related to direct democracy on their ballots: an effort to establish a single-subject rule for citizen initiatives (passed) and one allowing the legislature to amend or repeal voter-approved ballot measures that have been ruled unconstitutional by the state or federal supreme court (failed).

In Colorado, voters said yes to a legislatively referred measure that will require any initiative affecting income tax to have ballot titles and fiscal impact summaries that explain how the change would affect those taxes for people in different income categories. And in Florida, voters decided not to abolish the Florida Constitution Revision Commission, which meets every 20 years to propose changes to the state's constitution.

Other Notable Highlights

  • Two California sports betting measures—the most expensive in U.S. ballot measure history—failed.
  • An initiative in Colorado passed that will fund affordable housing projects with 0.01% of the state’s federal income tax revenue.
  • Gun rights won on the ballot in Iowa; while a gun control measure won in Oregon.
  • Nevadans approved an Equal Rights Amendment, which prohibits discrimination on account of race, color, creed, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, age, disability, ancestry or national origin. 
  • Arkansas voters narrowly rejected the Arkansas Religious Freedom Amendment, which would have provided that the government shall not burden a person’s freedom of religion.
  • In Massachusetts, voters upheld a referendum on HB 4805, which would allow all residents to apply for driver's licenses, regardless of citizenship or immigration status.
  • And Alabama voters overwhelmingly agreed to ratify the new Constitution of Alabama of 2022. In 2020, voters passed a measure authorizing the legislature to update the language in the constitution, and the new version removes racist language, deletes duplicative content, rearranges the sections and amendments and more. Unsurprisingly, this measure had bipartisan support and very little organized opposition.

Election Administration

NCSL’s elections team assists policymakers in supporting accurate and secure elections. Links to our most popular resources are below.

For legislators and legislative staff, the most important resource NCSL can offer is its staff. NCSL’s elections team is available to provide additional background material, customized research, testimony or state-specific resources. All you have to do is ask. Our job is to make your job easier.

For voters, please contact your local election official on how and where to vote. Contact information for these public servants can be found through the nonpartisan, nonprofit U.S. Vote Foundation, which compiles contact information for election jurisdictions throughout the nation.

NCSL Major Resources on Elections Administration

Related Resources

NCSL Election Resources

The NCSL elections team provides a variety of resources on election issues, including but not limited to 50-state surveys on state laws, legislation databases, a monthly elections newsletter, enactment summaries and other publications.

Statewide Ballot Measures Database

NCSL’s Statewide Ballot Measures Database includes all statewide ballot measures in the 50 states and the District of Columbia, starting over a century ago.
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