State of the States: Shifting Balance of Power in State Legislatures

November 17, 2018 by TWN Staff

Following the elections on November 6, state control is now divided in thirteen states. Democrats picked up six states, bringing their total to fourteen while Republicans held on to control in 22 states. Scroll to the bottom to see the full breakdown of state control by party.

Here is a look at the seven states that saw one or both chambers flip control:


In Alaska, women rule. The state Senate will see two new female members, and 6 newly-elected women will serve in the House. Alaska’s state House is also the only state chamber in the country to move from Democratic to Republican control. Previously, a small group of renegade Republicans had joined with Democrats to lead the chamber, but this year’s midterm results mark the end of the Democratic-led coalition.


The Colorado Senate is one of 6 state chambers to flip from Republican to Democratic control this year, and that’s not the only notable thing about The Centennial State following this year’s midterm elections. Consistent with trends across the country, women made impressive gains in the Colorado state House where 62 of the 142 candidates were women.


Democrats seized a solid majority in the Connecticut State Senate with six pickups and increased their hold in the House with over a dozen victories, pending the results of three recounts. The six seats gained in the Senate are a significant improvement over the chamber’s previous 18-18 tie. With Ned Lamont winning the governor’s office, Democrats will have firm control over state government as Republicans faced steep losses throughout New England.


It was 2008 when Maine was last controlled by a single party, until election day 2018 when Democrats recaptured the Governor’s office, State House and State Senate.  In the last few years, outgoing Republican Governor Paul LaPage was notorious for his use of the veto power.  However, incoming Governor Janet Mills (D), the first female governor for the state, will be aided by 21+ seats in the 35 seat State Senate and 81+ seats in the State House.


In a big shift, Democrats won 18 seats in the Minnesota State House to retake control of the chamber while Republicans held on to a narrow one-seat majority after winning a special election. When the new legislature convenes this January, it will be the only divided legislature in the country marking our nation’s continued polarization.


For the first time in nearly a decade, Democrats will now control both chambers of the New Hampshire State House. Overcoming a difficult Senate map, Democrats now have a 14-10 advantage. In the House, Democrats now have a 60 seat majority in the 424-member legislative body. Despite these wins, Republican Governor Chris Sununu won re-election meaning the new Democratic legislative majorities will have to work with the governor’s office to pass new laws.


Democrats have finally won full control of the New York State Senate, ending what has been a bizarre power sharing process between Republican and Democrats over the last several months. While the New York State Assembly has been solidly Democratic with a 104-41 majority, however prior to the recent midterms, the Democrats had only a slim 32-31 majority. When one Democratic senator chose to caucus with the Republicans, it created a unique struggle for power that has now come to an end.

state control by party

The states listed below are categorized by the power share in each state between the governor, state senate, and state house. Nebraska is omitted due to its unicameral, non-partisan legislature.



Colorado (pick up)

Connecticut (pick up)



Illinois (pick up)

Maine (pick up)

Nevada (pick up)

New Jersey

New Mexico (pick up)

New York


Rhode Island



Kansas (previously Rep. held)




Michigan (previously Rep. held)



New Hampshire (previously Rep. held)

North Carolina




Wisconsin (previously Rep. held)



Alaska (pick up)











North Dakota



South Carolina

South Dakota




West Virginia


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