EveryDistrict 2020 Election Coverage

For four long years we have waited for Election Day 2020, and it’s finally almost here. While all eyes will be on the race for the White House, and some eyes will be on key U.S. Senate races, here at EveryDistrict we’ll be laser-focused on tracking state legislative races.

This is a consequential year for state legislative races. Our election coverage will focus in on the key races most likely to decide control of the states. In this blog post, we’ll walk through our various resources for understanding the state of the states and how we’ll cover election results this year.

First, where do things stand now? This spreadsheet here tracks partisan control of the states since the 2016 election. You can see how many seats each party controlled per chamber after the 2016 election, heading into the 2018 election, following the 2018 election, and the current composition heading into Election Night 2020. If you want a deeper dive on any particular state or chamber, click through our maps here or our spreadsheets here. All of them have been updated with the latest information as of October 2020.*

Before we discuss how we’ll track results, we’ll start with a note of caution that we’re sure you’re hearing elsewhere, too. While there will be votes counted on Election Night, we expect this to be a long slog. Even in a normal year, it can take a while to count state legislative results. Democrats are competing under GOP-friendly maps in these battleground states. We expect that the races that will decide control of these chambers will be very very close. Remember when we didn’t know who controlled the Virginia House of Delegates until January 2018 because one race ended in a tie in 2017? 

In a non-global pandemic year, we expected it to take a few days at least for state results to become fully clear. It’s going to take even longer this year.

That all being said, the EveryDistrict team will be here, tracking the results for all 5,875 state legislative races on the ballot this year. Here’s what you can expect from us in the coming days, weeks, and months. 

Starting on Election Night, we will begin updating our Election Dashboard, linked here. We will also have a live blog to help you make sense of the results, and that will go live on Election Day. When it’s live, you can find it on our blog page here

On Election Night and the days that immediately follow, we will continue updating both of those resources with the latest results. Our focus there is on the districts most likely to determine whether Democrats make key gains in the states, like flipping a chamber or breaking a GOP supermajority. In our dashboard, you’ll see that we’re not tracking every single race in these chambers. To hone in on the big picture, we had to make some choices about which races we would or wouldn’t track. That being said, we will be watching all results and if a race starts to go in an unexpected direction, we will add it to the tracker. There are some on the bubble races where that could happen, especially if we really see a wave environment in certain states.

We also had to make choices about which states we would cover. Generally speaking, we’re covering an expansive list of states where Democrats could see gains this year: Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Texas, West Virginia, and Wisconsin. Our focus is on states where Democrats are poised to make gains, but we’ll also be watching chambers that Democrats flipped in 2018, like the Colorado Senate, Maine Senate, and New Hampshire Senate. While we expect Democrats to hold these chambers, we’ll have big-picture updates about those chambers on the blog.

The main page of our Election Dashboard is where we’ll track control of chambers. If you’re curious about a particular race, those are on the state pages. As we get more results in on Election Night and the ensuing days, our “Reporting” category on the state pages will move this way: None → Early → Partial → Some → Majority. When a race is called, it will move to: Mostly.** This will move the race out of the Undeclared column and into the D or R column; overall composition will be updated accordingly. We will not be calling races; we will be looking to guidance from other entities (news outlets, candidates declaring victory/conceding, etc.) before moving races into the “Mostly” column. 

Our goal is to help you understand who ends up with control of key chambers. Don’t worry about refreshing pages across multiple states or wondering whether a particular race result leads to a chamber flip. We’re keeping an eye on all the races that matter for control of the states, and our Election Dashboard makes it easy for you to follow along and stay informed about the state of state legislative races.

In the weeks and months that follow, we will continue to update our map pages and spreadsheets with the results of all 5,875 state legislative districts on the ballot this year. Follow our blog and sign up for our email list, where we’ll send updates as we update the results state-by-state.

Questions? Send us a note at info@everydistrict.us

*If you see something that looks wrong, please tell us! We’re a small team tracking 7,383 state legislative seats, and it’s quite possible we’ve made an error. Contact the EveryDistrict team at info@everydistrict.us with your question and we will investigate.

** Typically, reporting is done via percentages (for example, 10% reporting) and you will see this used by other outlets in election coverage. To maintain consistency across our states, and to ensure we are not providing inaccurate information, we will use this system instead of noting the specific percent reporting. We are doing this given the unclear nature of when certain states will have in-person, mailed, and early votes counted, and it may be difficult to determine exactly what percent reporting certain districts are at. This more general system will allow us to show progression in vote counting without giving you inaccurate information.