State Legislature Ratings

November 3, 2006 · 12:11 AM EST

The Rothenberg Political Report is changing its call on three legislative chambers: the New Hampshire Senate and the Michigan House and Senate. All three are held by the Republicans, and while all three will continue to lean to the GOP, there is now a real possibility that some or all of them could be taken over by the Democrats.

In New Hampshire, Republicans hold a 16-8 edge, but observers say that it’s not out of reach for the Democrats to pick up four seats, forcing a 12-12 tie. The big factors here have been the general national trend towards the Democrats, particularly in the Northeast, combined with the astronomical approval ratings of Gov. John Lynch (D), which could provide some coattails for downballot candidates. Shift this chamber from Likely Republican to Lean Republican. (The partisan gap in New Hampshire’s enormous state House is too large to flip in one year.)

In Michigan, both chambers are now in play. While the improving fortunes of once-vulnerable Gov. Jennifer Granholm (D) have helped her party, the bigger issue may be that a Kalamazoo-based millionaire, Jon Stryker, is spending several million dollars on independent expenditure TV ads that slam GOP incumbents in key districts.

Of the two chambers, the likelier to switch is the Senate, where a net gain of three seats would secure the Democrats a tie (which would be broken by the Democratic lieutenant governor) and a net gain of four would flip the chamber outright. Insiders say that there are enough Senate seats within reach for the Democrats that a shift looks plausible. The state House is a slightly longer shot, but it’s mathematically possible. Shift both chambers from Likely Republican to Lean Republican.

[November 4, 20o6 Upate]

The Rothenberg Political Report is making some small changes to its state legislative rankings. No new chambers are moving from non-competitive to competitive status, however.

All the changes benefit the Democrats, based on statewide as well as national trends. We are shifting the GOP-held Pennsylvania House from Lean Republican to Toss-Up, moving the Democratic-held Colorado Senate from Toss-Up to Lean Democratic, shifting the GOP-controlled Oregon House from Lean Republican to Toss-Up, and moving the Democratic-held North Carolina House from Toss-Up to Lean Democratic.

In addition, we are moving the South Dakota Senate from Safe Republican to Likely Republican. This means that the chamber is not fully competitive, but that the minority party could well pick up seats. The turmoil in South Dakota over the passage of a strict anti-abortion law – which critics forced onto the ballot for public approval – gives Democrats a chance to gain some seats, though in our view it will not be enough to flip the 25-10 GOP-held chamber.

This leaves the list of 24 competitive chambers as follows:

Democratic-held Toss-Ups (4)

  • Colorado House
  • Maine House
  • Maine Senate
  • Oklahoma Senate

Republican-held Toss-Ups (5)

  • Indiana House
  • Iowa House
  • Minnesota House
  • Oregon House
  • Pennsylvania House

Tied Toss-Ups (2)

  • Iowa Senate
  • Montana House

Democratic-held Lean D (6)

  • Colorado Senate
  • Montana Senate
  • North Carolina House
  • Tennessee House
  • Washington House
  • Washington Senate

Republican-held Lean R (7)

  • Michigan House
  • Michigan Senate
  • Nevada Senate
  • New Hampshire Senate
  • Ohio House
  • Tennessee Senate
  • Wisconsin Senate