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What Did the 2022 State Elections Do for Children and Families?

Alliance for Early Success allies across the country are sharing election results that impact children and families. We’ve compiled their summaries in an initial overview of where the country stands two days after the election.

While we don’t yet know the extent of the changes we’ll see on the national level, there is lots to report on state political landscapes — where the bulk of early childhood policy rises and falls.

The Year of the Ballot Measure

Ballot measures are a big theme this year, on issues from expanding Medicaid to ensuring children’s nutrition to raising the minimum wage.

Here’s the rundown of some key statewide measures:

Wins in local communities 

Advocates are celebrating local wins. To share just a few:

  • In Oregon, two school districts that partner with the Children’s Institute passed bonds – one will use part of that funding to put at least one preschool in every elementary school in the district and the other will create a preschool hub for the district.
  • Harris County, Texas (which includes Houston) successfully fended off an attempt to eliminate county funding for early childhood education, and instead they will invest $200 million of local ARPA funds, primarily in child care.
  • Jackson County, Missouri passed a ballot initiative that renewed and doubled a voter-approved children’s fund.

Shifting Power Dynamics

Thirty-six states held elections for governor, including 20 with Republican governors and 16 with Democratic governors going into the elections. Three states—Maryland, Massachusetts, and Arizona—saw the governor’s office change from Republican to Democrat, while Nevada flipped from Democrat to Republican.

There are projected to be 22 Republican trifectas (one fewer than before the election), 17 Democratic trifectas (three more than before the election), and ten states with divided governments where neither party will hold trifecta control (down from 13 before the election). Alaska is still uncertain.

Four states flipped to Democratic control:

  • In Michigan, Democrats flipped control of both chambers of the legislature, and the Democratic governor was re-elected.
  • In Minnesota, Democrats flipped partisan control of the state Senate, retained control of the House of Representatives, and the Democratic governor was re-elected.
  • In Maryland and Massachusetts, as mentioned above, Democrats won the governor’s seats while retaining control of the state legislatures.

Alaska currently has a divided government, but may become a Republican trifecta.

Two states that were previously trifectas flipped to divided government:

  • Arizona was a Republican trifecta, now divided after the election of a Democratic governor.
  • Nevada was a Democrat trifecta, now divided after the election of a Republican governor.

Moving Forward

This was a big election for representation. Candidates made history this week, as “firsts” abounded –  first female governor of Arkansas, first openly gay (lesbian) governors (Massachusetts and Oregon), first woman of color to win a statewide contest in Massachusetts (attorney general), first Black governor and attorney general of Maryland (and only the third Black governor in the nation), first Gen Z’er elected to Congress (Florida), first transgender man elected to a state legislature (New Hampshire), and more.

Congratulations to the advocates, parents, practitioners, organizers, and civic and business leaders who made children and families a priority this election.