What’s at Play in the 2018 State Legislature Races

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Of the 99 state legislative chambers in the country — Nebraska, uniquely, has a unicameral legislature — 87 in 46 states will hold elections in 2018. (Louisiana, Mississippi, New Jersey, and Virginia hold legislative elections in odd-numbered years, and Kansas, Minnesota, New Mexico, and South Carolina hold elections this year only for their lower chambers.) At present, Republicans control 67 of the 99, and control both chambers in 32 states. Democrats control 32 chambers, and both chambers in 14 states. Only four states have divided control of their legislatures.

For purposes of both lawmaking and redistricting of congressional and state legislative seats (which will take place between 2020 and 2022), both parties strive for “trifecta” control of governorships and state legislatures. Right now, Republicans have 26 trifectas, an extremely high number, while Democrats enjoy only 8. Establishing and breaking up those fully controlled statehouses are major goals for each party in 2018, particularly given the imminence of redistricting.

We have identified 18 state-legislature battlegrounds for 2018, based on opportunities to change party control and/or establish or disrupt a trifecta, and on the elections being targeted by the party committees (the Republican Legislative Campaign Committee and the Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee) that raise funds and plot strategies for these races. This battleground landscape could well shift during the course of the election cycle.

Competitive States

Click on each state for details.

Incumbent Competitive Analysis for the State Legislature 2018 Midterms
State Senate Majority House Majority Number of Seats to Flip the Senate Number of Seats to Flip the House  
What’s at Play in the 2018 State-Legislature Races