Aug 18, 2022 - Politics & Policy

Charted: The partisan battle for state Senates

State Senate leanings
Data: National Conference of State Legislators; Note: As of June 1, there were 61 state Senate seats across all 50 states that were vacant or held by members who do not identify as Republican or Democrat; Nebraska has a unicameral state legislature and is not included in this map; Map: Nicki Camberg/Axios

Arizona, Colorado, Minnesota, New Hampshire, Nevada and Texas each have five or fewer seats separating the majority and minority party in their state Senates — and all have elections coming up in November, according to data from the National Conference of State Legislatures.

Why it matters: Republicans have dominated Democrats at the state level for over a decade, allowing them to exercise outsized power over policies governing abortion access, gun control, voting, public health and other hot-button issues.

  • Republicans currently control 31 state Senates compared to Democrats' 18.
  • Nebraska has a unicameral state legislature and does not have formal political alignments among its members. However, members with Republican affiliations have a supermajority in the chamber — 32-17.

Between the lines: The margins in both the state Senate and statehouse are below five seats in two states: Arizona and Minnesota.

What to watch: Democrats have the best chance of flipping Republican majorities in the upper chambers of Minnesota and Michigan, where they are down three and six seats, respectively, according to analysis by Crystal Ball's Louis Jacobson.

  • Republicans have the best chance of gaining additional state Senate majorities in Maine (9-seat margin), Colorado (5 seats), Nevada (2 seats) and Oregon (7 seats).
  • Despite close margins in Texas, New Hampshire and Arizona, redistricting and the political environment will make it difficult for Democrats to flip those state Senates, according to Jacobson.

Go deeper: See the data for statehouses

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