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Election 2012: Both parties make gains in statehouse races
By Keith Goble, Land Line state legislative editor

Seats in 86 of the nation’s 99 state legislative chambers were on fall ballots with both parties coming away with victories. The GOP now claims 51 percent of the total state legislative seats – down from 54 percent before Election Day.

Two years after there was significant changeover throughout the nation with partisan control shifting from Democrats to Republicans in 11 statehouses, the pendulum moved the opposite direction. Majority control is significant because it can often allow a party to control the agenda and advance legislation on its own.

Democrats wrestled both chambers away from Republicans in Minnesota and Maine. The party also won new majorities in the Colorado House and New York Senate ensuring them full control of the statehouses.

In Oregon, Democrats broke a tie in the House to claim the majority of seats.

Republicans picked up the Arkansas House and Senate for the first time in about 150 years. The switch gives Republicans control of both chambers in all nine southern states.

Also added to the GOP column is the Alaska Senate, which was previously tied, and the Wisconsin Senate. Republicans lost their majority there during a recall election earlier this year.

The GOP maintained its majority of both chambers in 26 states. Democrats have the majority in 19 states – up from 15. Statehouses split between the parties dipped to four from eight, with races in Iowa, Nevada and New Hampshire still too close to call.

Nebraska has a single-chamber legislature that is nonpartisan.

Supermajorities were achieved by Republicans at the Indiana, Missouri, Oklahoma and Tennessee statehouses. Democrats returned the favor in California.

The grip of a party’s control is significant because a two-thirds majority, or supermajority, is needed to take up legislative business. The margin is also necessary to override a governor’s veto.

With this year’s elections nearly wrapped up, both parties turn their attention to 2014. At that time, 88 of the nation’s 99 chambers will hold state legislative elections.

For more 2012 election coverage from Land Line, click here.

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