Control up for Grabs in Several State Legislatures

Much has been said about the potential shift of power in the U.S. House and Senate following Tuesday’s crucial midterm election. Yet, Republicans stand to gain control in state legislatures across the country as well. CSG has identified four key races that are garnering a good deal of national attention:


  • Indiana House – Democrats hold a slim four-seat (52-48) advantage over Republicans. Party control switches in the Indiana House are not uncommon. Democrats only regained control of the body in 2007 after Republicans held a brief two year majority following the 2005 elections. If the Republicans do regain control of the House they will hold the balance of power in the state as they already control the senate and the governor’s mansion.
  • Montana House – One of only three legislative bodies currently split down the middle, Montana’s lower house seems poised to shift in the Republican’s favor. A strong Tea Party movement could play a role in helping return the body to Republican control – something it has grown used to after decades of Republican dominance.
  • Ohio House – After more than a decade in Republican hands, Ohio House Democrats road President Obama’s coattails into a slim majority in 2008. It appears that control will be short-lived as Republican gains in the house seem inevitable on Tuesday. Republican candidates for governor and Congress are running ahead in polls across Ohio. It seems likely Republicans will garner the seven seats they need to regain control, putting both legislative bodies in Republican hands.
  • Pennsylvania House – With divisive national races garnering a great deal of media attention, momentum from these races favors Republicans, who are hoping to regain control of the chamber. The state senate has been in Republican hands for most of the past three decades and the house was only lost to the Democrats in 2006. Republicans need to regain seven seats to build a majority once again.

While not creating the national media frenzy as these key races, several other potential party control shifts may occur as well.

  • Alaska Senate – Alaska’s senate chamber is split evenly and seems poised to return to the Republican control it has known for more than a decade.
  • Alabama House & Senate – Whereas Republican’s regaining control in Alaska’s senate would be a return to the historical norm, should the same occur in Alabama where Democrats hold a slim five-seat majority, it would mark the first time in a century that Republicans have enjoyed control of either Alabama legislative body. If that’s not enough to get your attention, it entirely likely that Republicans might snag control of the house as well. Democrats hold just a five-seat edge there, too. For a state that has been painted red in national elections for decades, such a shift on the state level seems inevitable; so the question is how much shifting will happen on Tuesday.
  • New Hampshire Senate (& House) – With all 24 seats up for re-election and the Democrats only holding a four-seat majority, it is possible that this chamber could see Republican control return. The senate was in Republican hands for close to a decade before Democrats took over in 2006. Some sources also list the New Hampshire house as a toss-up though the Democrats do hold an advantage of 46 seats in that chamber. However, if the wave of Republican support is big enough, it may carry over just enough to allow them to gain control of both houses.
  • New York Senate – Democrats gained control of this body in 2008 and, like their colleagues in Ohio, this control appears to be short-lived. Holding just a two-seat advantage, it appears likely the state senate will return to the Republican control that dominated the two decades prior to 2008.
  • Wisconsin House & Senate – Currently, Democrats control both legislative houses and the governor’s mansion. Given the current climate few think such complete Democratic control is likely to survive Tuesday’s election. Both legislative bodies are listed as potential toss-up elections as either could conceivably shift to Republicans. However, most eyes are on the house where a gain of six seats would mean victory for Republicans. But, don’t lose sight of the senate as a four-seat shift there could see a blue state turning decidedly red. Historically, Wisconsin’s legislature has enjoyed long periods of Republican control so a sweep certainly isn’t impossible on Tuesday.

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