In the 50 states, there are 99 state legislative chambers and 7,383 state legislative seats. In November 2017, three of these 99 chambers are holding general elections for a total of 220 state legislative seats—roughly 3 percent of the total legislative seats in the country. Special state legislative elections are also taking place in 2017. More special elections tend to take place in odd-numbered years than in even years. In the state of Washington, special elections will determine control of the state Senate. Read more about 2017 special elections here.

Of the three chambers holding general elections in 2017, two are in New Jersey: the New Jersey General Assembly and the New Jersey State Senate. The other chamber is the Virginia House of Delegates. Legislators in the Virginia House and New Jersey Assembly serve two-year terms. Legislators in the New Jersey Senate serve four-year terms, except in the first term of a new decade, which only lasts for two years. Most states hold general elections for state legislatures in even years. In 2016, for example, 86 chambers held general elections for a total of 5,923 legislative seats—about 80 percent of the total legislative seats in the country. Four states, however—LouisianaMississippiNew Jersey and Virginia—hold elections in odd-numbered years. Legislators in Louisiana and Mississippi are elected to four-year terms, with elections scheduled for 2019.

In New Jersey and Virginia, high-profile gubernatorial races coincide with their states’ legislative elections in 2017. Both contests are for open seats due to term-limits prohibiting the incumbents from running for re-election. The incumbent governors are Chris Christie (R) in New Jersey and Terry McAuliffe (D) in Virginia.

A lot is at stake in the 2017 state legislative elections. New Jersey could become a Democratic trifecta, meaning Democrats could end up with control of the legislature and governor’s mansion. Virginia, on the other hand, could become a Republican trifecta. The 2017 state legislative elections also have a national subtext as the first general legislative elections to take place since Republican Donald Trump took office as president of the United States in January 2017. Historically, the party that holds The White House has tended to lose seats in state legislatures. The 2017 state legislative elections may offer a preview of whether that historical trend will continue into Trump’s presidency.


Info Source:,_2017