CHICAGO - The surge that gave Republicans control of the U.S. House of Representatives on Tuesday also hit state legislatures, where the Republican Party was on track for historic gains.
In most states, legislatures will be redrawing electoral districts for the House of Representatives in Washington -- an adjustment of boundaries every 10 years that tends to favor the party in charge of each state house.
The big Republican Party wins at the state level give it the edge in reinforcing its strength in the U.S. House.
Republicans took control of at least 17 chambers from Democrats, according to Tim Storey, an elections analyst at the bipartisan National Conference of State Legislatures.
"The Republicans really swamped the Democrats," he said on Wednesday, adding that Republicans will be in the best position for controlling congressional redistricting since the modern era of remapping began in the 1970s.
The party in control of the White House almost always loses legislative seats in midterm elections and 2010 was no exception.
Republicans saw a net gain of at least 500 seats, giving them control of chambers in states such as Alabama, Indiana, Iowa, Maine, Minnesota, Michigan, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, the NCSL reported.
In the South, Republicans will control 18 of 28 chambers, Storey said. Alabama's legislative election marked the first time Republicans will head both chambers since reconstruction. In North Carolina, Republicans have not controlled the state Senate since 1870, according to the NCSL.
Storey said probably five more chambers remain in play, including the New York Senate.
Heading into Tuesday's election to fill more than 80 percent of the nation's 7,382 state legislative seats, Democrats controlled both chambers in 27 state legislatures and Republicans were dominant in 14.
Control was split in eight states, while Nebraska's single-chamber legislature is nonpartisan. (Reporting by Karen Pierog)
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