November 5, 2014 / 11:21 AM / 6 years ago

Republicans gain in U.S. state legislative elections

CHICAGO, Nov 5 (Reuters) - The Republican wave that hit the U.S. Congress in Tuesday’s mid-term election also boosted the party in state legislative races where it gained control of at least three chambers.

Democrats lost their majorities in the Nevada Senate, Minnesota House and West Virginia House to Republicans, who were also poised to take over the New Hampshire House, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL).

“All the signs point to a big night for Republicans,” said Morgan Cullen, a policy analyst at the bipartisan group.

He added that Democrats had not yet picked up a single chamber, although voting results were still coming in.

Riding on President Barack Obama’s reelection coattails two years ago, Democrats picked up 150 seats and took back control of eight legislative chambers they lost to Republicans in 2010.

On Tuesday, Republicans took over control of the U.S. Senate, beefed up their majority in the U.S. House and won the governor’s office in several key states.

Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee Executive Director Michael Sargeant pointed to “a difficult political environment” for his party’s showing on Tuesday in state legislative races.

“Since 2010, Democrats have faced an unfriendly map on both national and state levels, but our successful voter turnout efforts produced important gains in the North Carolina House and defended the Iowa Senate and Kentucky House,” he said in a statement, adding that “the fight for 2016 is underway.”

Midterm elections have traditionally disfavored the president’s political party, with that party losing state legislative seats 26 out of the last 28 times since 1902, according to the NCSL.

Voters on Tuesday were deciding 6,049 legislative races in 46 states or nearly 82 percent of all state legislative seats.

Ahead of the election, Republicans held 3,836 seats, Democrats held 3,448, and 26 belonged to third-party lawmakers. Republicans controlled 57 chambers, while Democrats were the majority in 41. Nebraska’s single-chamber legislature is nonpartisan. Republicans controlled both legislative chambers in 27 states versus 19 states for Democrats.

A post-election tally of seats won and lost by the parties was not immediately available from the NCSL.

Reporting By Karen Pierog Editing by W Simon

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