Dec 29, 2022 - Politics & Policy

Democrats quietly enter 2023 with momentum at statehouse level

State legislatures where parties gained the most seats after the 2022 midterms
Data: Ballotpedia; Chart: Kavya Beheraj/Axios Note: Seats gained includes those that were vacant or held by members that do not identify as Democrat or Republican before the midterm elections. There is one uncalled race in both Massachusetts and New Hampshire.

Democrats' unexpected strength in the 2022 midterms extended to state legislatures, where they picked up seats in 21 states and took control of five chambers from the GOP, according to data from Ballotpedia.

Why it matters: State legislatures have vast power over abortion laws, voting rules, gun policies and other issues with a direct impact on American lives.

  • The stakes have been raised even higher, as the U.S. Supreme Court considers a case that could eliminate checks on legislatures' power over redistricting and election processes.
  • Republicans maintain more state trifectas, veto-proof majorities, chambers, and overall state legislative seats in their control than Democrats.
  • But in November, Democrats managed to flip more chambers, earn more state trifectas and pick up seats in more states controlled by the opposing party, while also matching Republicans for the number of new veto-proof majorities.

By the numbers: Democrats flipped four chambers — both Michigan chambers, the Minnesota Senate and Pennsylvania House. Despite still having more Republicans than Democrats, a bipartisan coalition will now serve as the majority in Alaska's upper chamber.

  • Adding in gubernatorial wins, Democrats won state trifectas in Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, and Minnesota. They lost their Nevada trifecta, while Republicans lost their state control in Arizona.
  • Both parties managed to snag additional veto-proof majorities, which often come with the power to amend state constitutions and overrule governors, as Axios has reported.
  • Democrats flipped or won vacant seats in 21 states, including nine controlled by Republicans before the election. Republicans also picked up seats in 25 states, but they already controlled legislatures in 20 of them.

Between the lines: Republicans' biggest gains came in two already deeply red state legislatures — West Virginia and Florida, where they picked up 17 and 14 seats, respectively. Republicans now have supermajorities in both states.

  • Republicans also picked up eight seats in the Wisconsin state legislature, though they fell just short of a supermajority.
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