Aug 8, 2022 - Politics & Policy

Charted: GOP's state-level dominance

Percentage of state legislative seats held by political party
Data: Ballotpedia; Chart: Erin Davis/Axios Visuals

Republicans have maintained control over more state legislative seats than Democrats for more than a decade straight, according to data from the National Conference of State Legislatures and Ballotpedia.

Why it matters: State legislatures have the power to shape voting rules, gun control laws, abortion access and other issues that often have a more direct impact on Americans than federal policies. The GOP's control over chambers in key swing states was also at the heart of former President Trump's failed scheme to overturn the 2020 election.

Worth noting: This data doesn't take into account Nebraska's unicameral legislature, which does not recognize its members' partisan affiliations.

By the numbers: The last time Democrats held more state legislative seats than Republicans was in 2010, before they lost their 4,047-3,236 edge in the historic red wave midterms.

  • Republicans controlled 3,978 seats and 61 chambers as of June this year, compared to 3,266 seats and 37 chambers for Democrats, according to NCSL.
  • Republicans also have full partisan control of 23 states — meaning they have a GOP governor and majorities in both state chambers. Democrats have these so-called trifectas in 14 states.

What to watch: There are 13 states in which party control of the state is at risk in this year's elections, according to Ballotpedia. Each party has four states in which their trifectas are considered moderately or highly vulnerable.

  • In addition to a toss-up gubernatorial race in Arizona, Democrats need to net just one seat in the state House or state Senate to tie partisan control in either chamber.
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