State Legislative Elections
Here are the most competitive races this year:
WV; Currently Democrats control the State House 53-47 and the State Senate 24-10. If one’s gonna switch that’s obviously the House since the margin is smaller. I’d think Democrats will hold control of Senate but only for one more cycle likely. Last election they gave 62% of the vote to Mitt Romney and won every county too. Also likely they’ll elect a Republican to the Senate so it’s redness will trend down to local offices. While Joe Manchin easily won reelection in 2012, I suspect it’ll be much harder in 2018. State House leans R; State Senate leans D.
OR; Isn’t OR a blue state you maybe asking? Not exactly. Its politics are much more complex than that. In fact it’s got a strong libertarian spirit of which it may not yet recognize. The big iffy though is the state GOP which from what I heard isn’t in the best of shape. Many of the candidates they run are fiscally center-left and socially conservative. As a result they’ve had very poor showings of late. They only hold one congressional delegation seat which is held by veteran congressman Greg Walden who’s head of the RCCC. The governorship has been held continually by Democrats. They came close to winning in 2010, but still short. They actually up until 2006 held control of the State House and the state legislature on and off too. It was tied for two years and Democrats won control again. So what happens in November is an open question. But I’d say control of the State House leans D while the State Senate is a tossup since the margin is 16-14 Democrat.
NY; For as left a state it is, the state legislature has been split for a longtime. The State Senate has been held almost continually by Republicans and the State Assembly by Democrats. Currently the Senate is in a quasi coalition cause the GOP technically lost control in November, but a number of Democrats who caucus independently agreed to form a leadership coalition. The State Assembly is safe D while the State Senate is a tossup.
KY; KY unlike most other southern states has been in its voting habits. The Congressional Delegation is 7-1 Republican while the statewide offices are 6-1 Democrat. The State Legislature fittingly enough has been split for the past decade or so. I would say though this is coming to an end since it’s trending red more and more. Last presidential election only four counties voted for Obama which are undoubtedly in the Louisville area (you could say it’s the Austin of KY in that it’s a super blue dot in a sea of red). Mitt Romney won 60% of the vote which underpins how truly unpopular Mitch McConnell is (support Matt Bevin). I think based on how deeply red it’s continuing to trend, it’ll show up in the local and statewide offices as well too. My state Oklahoma for a long time was deeply red in federal elections, but voted solidly Democrat in local and statewide races up until the last 10 years. The State Senate I rate safe R and the State House leans R since the margin is 54-46 Democrat which is what the Arkansas House was before it switched in 2012. Definitely an eye to keep out on this one.
NH; Talk about unpredictability! In 2010, the GOP was swept into super-majorities in both chambers by the Tea Party wave. That led to 2 years very confrontational years between between the General Court (as the legislature’s called there) and the Democrat Governor John Lynch who’s since left office. In 2012, the Democrats took control of the State House again thanks to partially Obama’s name on the ballot and the State Senate is still Republican though only by a couple of seats. What happens in November depends on how strong another Tea Party wave will be. I’ll rate the State Senate as likely R and the State House as tossup.
MN; In 2010, Republicans for the first time since 1974 captured control of the State Legislature. At the same time, the DFL (Democrat-Farmer-Labor as their called up there) won the Governorship for the first time in 20 years which led to 2 years confrontational years. Most notable of which was the government shutdown that happen in the summer of 2011. The DFL won back the State Legislature and with a full Democrat government they passed progressive policies such as same-sex marriage legalization, child care unionization (really????) and massive tax increases. At the same time (cheating fraud) Al Franken is seeking a 2nd term as Senator. The good news on this front is that his job approval ratings are faltering. The bad news is that the state GOP is in debt and there’s serious lack of a strong candidate. I don’t know for sure what it’s like on the legislative front so I’ll for now rate the State House as leans D. The State Senate’s terms are somewhat odd. They go 4 years for two cycles then go 2 years after redistricting is done so it isn’t up till 2016.
NM; Being a deep blue state typically, the State Legislature has been Democrat controlled for years uninterrupted. Though the GOP in recent cycles has picked up numerous seats in both chambers. Currently it’s 37-33 in the State House and 25-17 in the State Senate. The Republican Governor Susanna Martinez has got sky high job approval numbers and should easily win reelection. Whether that translates in gains for the GOP in the Legislature or even picking up a chamber (most likely the State House) is another question. Chris Christie won 60% of the vote in his reelection in NJ and yet only resulted in the GOP picking up 2 seats in the State Assembly and the State Senate remaining unchanged in makeup. This is despite the GOP actually prevailing the Senate popular vote though part of why is that redistricting was made favorable towards Democrats so it’s not all Christie to blame. I’ll for now rate both chambers as leaning D (maybe the State House is lean D/tossup).
WA; For the past decade Democrats solidly controlled the state government (the governorship they’ve held forever now). Though after the 2012 elections, two Democrats broke ranks to caucus with Republicans to be installed in the top leadership positions (President Pro Tem, Majority Leader). In return they appointed Republicans to head half of the committees. The coalition was 25-24 and then went to 26-23 after a Republican won a special election to a seat originally held by a Democrat. The State House is controlled by Democrats and has been so for the past 11 years. I think like NY, the State Senate here is unpredictable so I rate it as tossup (maybe lean R) and the State House is lean D.
IA; This is as swing of a state as you can get. The Congressional Delegation is split evenly. Dems have one Senator in Tom Harkin (who’s retiring) and the GOP has Chuck Grassley. The House delegation has 2 Rs and 2 Ds. Republicans have 3 statewide offices while Dems hold 2. The State Senate is Democrat controlled while the State House is Republican controlled. It’s hard to predict exactly, but I’ll go with State House likely R and the State Senate is tossup since it’s only 26-24 D. Governor Terry Branstad who previously held office for 16 years 1983-1999 is an almost shoe-in for reelection. It’s possible his tailcoats will sweep Republicans into power in the State Senate and increase their margin in the State House too (though again it’s hard to tell).
CO; Based on the fact that two State Senators in heavily Democrat districts were recalled due to gun control I don’t think they’ll hold the State Senate for much longer. John Hickenlooper has a strong chance of being defeated while Mark Udall due to Barack Obama’s falling approval ratings and Obamacare fiascos is trying to distance himself away. This could be the year where the CO GOP swings back most of the gains made by Democrats in the past decade depending on whether they stop firing at each other like mad. I’ll rate the State House and Senate as tossups.
There’s not as much information out there on state legislative races so this is the best I can do for right now. Two excellent sites that do this work around election time are Ballotpedia and Governing though they’ve yet to analyze them. I’ll try to update if there’s something I got wrong or if there’s better information out there. Stay tuned.