Five Facts on Trifectas

Five Facts on Trifectas

One of the most effective features of the American form of government is the system of checks and balances. By distributing power among the executive, legislative and judicial branches, it pits the branches against one another in a continual competition for power. When one branch overreaches, another checks it by asserting its own power, restoring balance.

At the state level, however, power is increasingly concentrated in what are known as “trifectas,” in which one political party holds three key power centers: the governorship and the upper and lower chambers of the legislature. Trifectas leave minority party interests underrepresented.

Here are five facts about trifectas:

1. Trifectas operate in 39 states today—22 Republican and 17 Democratic. The remaining 11 states operate under divided government. There are more trifectas today than at any time since 1992, when there were 19—16 Republican and 3 Democratic.

2. Republican trifectas have endured the longest: Utah since 1985; Idaho, North Dakota and South Dakota since 1995; and Nebraska since 1999.

3. According to analysis by lobbying firm MultiState, Democrats are much more likely than Republicans or divided governments to increase revenues, and Republican trifectas are more likely to cut them.

4. Both parties are also more likely to enact tax increases and tax cuts when they have full control than in divided government.

5. Single-party state government can accelerate legislation by minimizing partisan disagreement, but it can also weaken checks and balances.