Voters to Decide More Than 6,000 State Legislative Seats

November 6, 2006

In addition to the 36 governor’s offices, more than 6,000 state legislative seats in 46 states are up for grabs on Nov. 7.

“The changes that come from the 2006 state legislative elections could rival those of the historic 1994 elections when the GOP picked up more than 500 seats,” according to Tim Storey, an elections expert with the National Conference of State Legislatures. “But conventional wisdom suggests that at the end of the day it will be the Democrats that have the most to gain.”

Currently, state legislative chambers are controlled almost evenly between the two political parties. Twenty legislatures are controlled by Republicans, 19 by Democrats and 10 legislatures are split (Nebraska is a nonpartisan legislature). In terms of individual legislators, Democrats maintain the slightest 21-seat majority over Republicans.

An August NCSL analysis suggested that these 10 states’ legislative elections could be the most hotly contested:

Colorado House and Senate. Colorado has emerged as a swing state and narrow Democratic majorities in both houses will be challenged. In the House, Democrats have a five-seat majority and in the Senate, they lead by one seat.

Indiana House. Control of the Indiana House has switched six of the past nine elections and will again be up for grabs this year. Today, Republicans have a four-seat majority.

Iowa House and Senate. The Iowa Senate is tied and Republicans have only a two-seat advantage in the House.

Maine House and Senate. Democrats control both chambers by only a handful of seats and independent Maine voters are renowned for ticket splitting. In the House, Democrats own a three-seat majority while they control the Senate by only one.

Minnesota House. Democrats made huge gains in here in 2004 and could keep that momentum going to take control. They only need to switch two seats.

Montana House. It’s a classic toss-up. The House is tied heading into the election and both parties are fielding candidates in 82 of the 100 House races.

North Carolina House. Republicans need only four switches to regain control of a chamber where ethics controversies have dominated headlines.

Oklahoma Senate. All seven of the incumbent Senators termed out this year are Democrats giving the GOP hope that picking up three seats for control is within reach.

Oregon House. Democrats may have their best chance in over 15 years to take over needing only three seats to achieve a tie and four to seize control.

Tennessee Senate. Republicans won control of the Senate in 2004 for the first time in over 100 years and must now defend the narrow three seat majority.

Source: National Conference of State Legislatures

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