Republicans made small inroads as the parties looked ahead to the battle over redistricting that will follow the 1990 census, but Democrats maintained control of most state legislatures. GOP state legislators did not do nearly as well as in the previous two presidential elections. In 1980 the Democrats lost 302 seats and 10 chambers, and in 1984 they lost 330 seats and seven chambers.
Republicans hope to pick up more seats in 1990, the last elections before the legislatures' redistricting battles of 1991.
Based on early results of Tuesday's voting, Republicans picked up roughly 16 to 30 seats in state legislatures, according to the Republican National Committee.
Republicans lost control of the New Mexico Senate to Democrats, but took control of the Montana Senate, which had been Democratic, the committee said.
Republicans split evenly with Democrats in three chambers that had been Democratic, the committee said: the Oregon House and the Vermont House and Senate.
Democrats strengthened majorities in the legislatures of at least five states, gained in the Republican-dominated houses of New York and in Indiana - Vice-President-elect Dan Quayle's state - and retained control in Southern strongholds.
The Democrats control two-thirds of all state legislative chambers. But the makeup of the legislatures is especially important this year because it is the last election before the 1990 census, which will be used to redraw congressional districts.
Much of the power in influencing how those districts are reshaped, which can result in lost seats for either political party, lies in the statehouses.