The Red Wave Of Legislative Control


While 2020 was a crucial year for redistributing seats, Democrats suffered big losses in state legislatures. The consequential balance of power remains in the hands of Republicans – and as it should be.

Democrats were originally counting on “record-breaking” numbers to flip the number of state legislatures but lost races in several key states. They lost races in the New Hampshire state House and Senate, Texas, North Carolina, and Florida. They failed to flip a single house, and if the total stays the way it is expected, Republicans will have full control of 30 state legislatures and the Democrats would only have 18. Republicans would control 59 out of the country’s 98 partisan chambers. 

“It looks like this will be the least party control changes on Election Day since at least 1944 when only four chambers changed hands,” said Tim Storey, the National Conference of State Legislature’s executive director.

Storey talked about how this has been a “remarkably status quo” election. While 12 chambers generally flip party control in each general election, the 2020 election race has only had two chamber flips so far. Because of this control, the GOP will control both the House and Senate in 24 out of 36 states.

In New Hampshire, the GOP flipped control of both houses. New Hampshire is generally the nation’s largest swing state, with one of both chambers flipping in six of the last eight elections.  In Montana, the GOP controlled the legislature and then beat out Democratic Gov. Steve Bullock who was term-limited anyway. This threw a major red wave at the Governor’s house.

Republicans performed better than the radical left expected in the congressional elections. While the Democrats were challenging to flip the Senate, they lost a few seats in the House along the way. This just shows that they really aren’t as highly favored as they thought. Democrats haven’t held a majority of seats in the nation’s legislatures since the 2010 election, when 24 chambers shifted from Democratic to Republican control. 

Reports show that out of the 7,383 legislators this year, 3,820 were Republicans and 3,436 were Democrats. Republicans will control the process and have a political advantage, even if Biden wins the presidential race. 

Little has changed this year in terms of control of legislatures or states, but we know this much. Whether or not President Trump gets reelected for a second term, legislative control had a red wave hit it hard. This could be big trouble for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.