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New Hampshire’s Was Only State Legislature That Changed Parties In 2020 Election

Dan Tuohy / NHPR

New Hampshire’s state legislature was the only one in the country where party control changed in last week's election.

Granite State Republicans kept the governor’s office and took control of the State House and Senate, which had both gone Democratic in 2018.

Republicans now have unified control in 24 states, according to Tim Storey, executive director of the National Conference of State Legislatures. Fifteen states are under Democratic control, he said during a webinar Thursday, and 11 are divided.

New Hampshire’s legislature has changed majorities in six of the last eight elections, Storey said. The state House of Representatives is especially prone to flip, he said, since each state representative has an average of about 3,400 constituents.

“Those districts are very small, they’re very personal,” he said. “You’ve just got to knock on a hundred more doors and you’re going to swing a district if you’re successful with your message. So I think that has a lot to do with this – the unique nature of New Hampshire itself.”

Nationwide, Storey said Republicans now control about 55% of all state legislative seats, heading into a redistricting year.

New Hampshire's shift was offset by Virginia's move to Democratic control last year, Storey said, so there was no net change in state legislative power nationwide over the two-year election cycle -- something he said has rarely happened in modern history.

Storey said he expects statehouses will be more active than Congress in making policy changes over the next two years, if the federal government also remains divided.

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Annie has covered the environment, energy, climate change and the Seacoast region for NHPR since 2017. She leads the newsroom's climate reporting project, By Degrees.

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