In our latest series, we will take you around the country, region by region, to survey the post-election landscape at the state level.

With gridlock coming to Washington, decision-makers will be looking to the states for solutions to their business and public policy challenges.

In today’s edition, we take a look at the Plains States.



Governor: Republican hold – Kim Reynolds

US Congressional Delegation: +2 Democrat, 3 D – 1 R

State Lower Chamber: +4 Democrat, 54 R – 46 D

State Upper Chamber: +3 Republican, 32 R – 18 D


After Governor Terry Branstad was confirmed as United States Ambassador to China in May 2017, Lt. Governor Kim Reynolds succeeded him, becoming Iowa’s first female governor.

This race as classified as a toss-up early on, with some forecasts even slightly rating it as Lean Democrat.  After going for President Obama twice, Iowa flipped to President Trump in 2016 by 9 points.

Ultimately, Republicans in Iowa came out on top, holding on to their majority in the State House and Senate, and electing Kim Reynolds to a full term as Governor.  The one bright spot for Democrats was a pick-up of two US House seats as part of their national wave.


Governor: Democratic Flip – Laura Kelly

US Congressional Delegation: +1 Democrat, 3 R – 1 D

State Lower Chamber: No Change, 85 R – 40 D

State Upper Chamber: No Elections, 28 R – 11 D



When Governor Sam Brownback resigned in January of 2018 to accept a position as Ambassador-at-large for International Religious Freedom, Lt. Governor Jeff Colyer assumed the office of Governor.

In a hotly contested primary in which President Trump endorsed a challenger to a sitting Governor, Kansas Secretary of State Khris Kobach defeated Colyer to become his Party’s nominee in November.

Republicans faced an uphill battle in Kansas as a result of Brownback’s deeply unpopular tenure as Governor, which included extreme tax cuts that stunted both the state’s economy and education system.

The addition of Independent candidate Greg Orman, who earned 6% of the vote, proved too much for the GOP in Kansas to overcome.  Democratic State Senator Laura Kelly earned a plurality of the vote, breaking the Republican trifecta in Topeka.



Governor: Democratic hold – Tim Walz

US Congressional Delegation: No Change, 5 D – 3 R

State Lower Chamber: +19 Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party, 75 DFL – 59 R

State Upper Chamber: No Regular Elections, 34 R – 33 DFL



The Minnesota suburbs delivered major victories for Democrats on Election Night.  More than a dozen suburban State House seats flipped, handing Democrats control of the chamber for the first time since 2014.

The only saving grace for Republicans this November was their victory in a special State Senate election.  With control of the State Senate on the line, the GOP managed to hold on to their majority by one vote, preventing a Democratic trifecta in the Land of 10,000 Lakes.


Governor: No Election – Incumbent Mike Parson (R)

US Congressional Delegation: No Change, 6 R – 2 D

State Lower Chamber: +7 Republican, 116 R – 47 D

State Upper Chamber: +1 Republican, 24 R – 10 D



Republicans were able to maintain their veto-proof majorities in both the State House and State Senate in a state that President Trump won by 18.5 points in 2016.

This is a state that has been trending Republican, with Trump’s 2016 margin of victory nearly double that of Mitt Romney’s in 2012.  What was once considered a bellwether state to watch appears to have firmly settled into the GOP column.

The marquee race to watch on Election Night was State Attorney General Josh Hawley’s attempt to unseat incumbent Democratic Senator Claire McCaskill.  His victory in that race means that the Republicans will hold both US Senate Seats from Missouri for the first time in more than a decade.


Governor: Republican Hold – Pete Ricketts

US Congressional Delegation: +1 Republican, 3 R – 0 D

State Lower Chamber: N/A

State Upper Chamber: N/A

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It can be difficult to get a read on the exact political landscape in Nebraska, given the unique structure of their state legislature.  That said, it is safe to say that this is hardly a swing state.

Unicameral, and non-partisan, the Nebraska legislature, made up of just 49 “senators,” is the smallest legislature in the United States.  Its members are elected on a non-partisan basis, and may choose to informally “affiliate” themselves with one political party or another.

Headed into the 2018 elections, Senators affiliated with the GOP outnumbered those affiliated with the Democrats 31-16, with little change after Election Night.

Nebraskans voted for Donald Trump with nearly 60% of the vote in 2016, and re-elected incumbent Governor Pete Ricketts in 2018 by about the same margin.

North Dakota

Governor: No Election – Incumbent Doug Burgum (R)

US Congressional Delegation: No Change, 1 Republican At-Large Seat

State Lower Chamber: +2 Democratic-Nonpartisan League, 79 R – 15 D-NPL

State Upper Chamber: +1 Democratic-Nonpartisan League, 37 R – 10 D-NPL

North Dakota


For Democrats to have made any gains in a state Donald Trump won by 36 points in 2016 is impressive in and of itself.  However, Republicans did maintain their supermajorities in both the State House and State Senate, holding on to their trifecta in Bismarck.

Like Missouri, the most-watched race here was the US Senate Race.  Congressman Kevin Cramer defeated incumbent Senator Heidi Heitkamp, becoming the first Republican to hold this Senate seat since 1960.  2018 also marked the first time that North Dakota will send two directly elected Republicans to represent the Roughrider State in more than a century.

South Dakota

Governor: Republican Hold – Kristi Noem

US Congressional Delegation: No Change, 1 Republican At-Large Seat

State Lower Chamber: No Change, 59 R – 11 D

State Upper Chamber: + 1 Republican, 30 R – 5 D

South Dakota


In a state that Donald Trump won with more than 60% of the vote in 2016, there were likely to be no surprises on Election Night 2018.

Republicans maintained their supermajorities in both chambers of the State Legislature, and incumbent Governor Kristi Noem held off a challenge from Democratic State Senator Billie Sutton and Libertarian schoolteacher Kurt Evans.