The Republican Trifecta Opportunities in 2020, Part 2

In April, we analyzed Republicans’ opportunities to take control of state governments this year. We now echo what we said in our updated piece about the Democrats’ opportunities— much has changed since then.


Montana continues to remain the best opportunity for a Republican trifecta this November, with the odds having increased since our initial analysis. This is because we moved the Montana gubernatorial election from Toss-Up to Tilt R, as Lieutenant Governor Mike Cooney (D) still lags behind Representative Greg Gianforte (R), likely due to Gianforte’s higher name recognition.

There hasn’t been a single poll showing Gianforte without a lead, even in Cooney’s own internal polling in late August. Because of this, we expect the race to be within single-digits. However, we definitely see Gianforte as at least a slight favorite at the moment, and we doubt that view will change before election day.


Republicans beat two Republican members of the Democrat-aligned majority coalition in the Alaska House of Representatives in the August primaries, as well as netting another primary victory by default due to the tragic death of State Representative Gary Knopp (R), who died in a plane crash in late July. However, they came up short in another attempt to primary State Representative Steve Thompson (R) of HD-02, a Republican in the majority coalition. Had Thompson lost, Republicans would have been in good standing to create a trifecta.

Since Thompson did end up winning, we have the odds of a coalition majority at 55.7%, which is Tilt D in our ratings. Before the primaries, we had the chamber as a Toss-Up, with no available odds as we wanted to wait after the primaries due to the unique situation in the chamber. Still, Democrats should not be overly confident in the majority coalition holding the chamber given that they only have a slight advantage in holding their majority.

New Hampshire

New Hampshire, which we ranked as the 4th best trifecta opportunity for Republicans in April, has risen to the 3rd spot on our list thanks to strong polling from Governor Chris Sununu. As a result, we have moved this rating from Lean R to Safe R. However, the odds of a Republican takeover in the state legislative chambers are stagnant, as the rating for the State Senate remains at Lean D and the rating for the State House remains Likely D.

North Carolina

Another reason why New Hampshire rose to the #3 spot is the sharp decline in the odds of a Republican trifecta in North Carolina. When we looked at the state in April, we had the gubernatorial race as Lean D, but since then we have moved the race to Likely D due to incumbent Governor Roy Cooper (D)’s comfortable lead in the polls.

In addition to this, the NC House also moved from Lean R to Tilt R after an analysis of campaign finance reports in July. The odds of a Republican majority in the NC Senate have also declined, though the chamber barely remains Lean R in our ratings. It’s now more than likely that Democrats will pick up seats in both chambers, in part due to redistricting, but also due to the large financial disadvantage Republicans find themselves in in a number of competitive districts.