MADISON, Wis., Sept. 10, 2012 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Today Ballotpedia released its third annual State Legislative Electoral Competitiveness Index. The index analyzes which states have the most and least competitive electoral environments in 2012. Ballotpedia's analysis found that California leads the nation with the most competitive state elections and Massachusetts, Georgia and South Carolina are among the least competitive states.
"Voters don't have a choice unless both primary and general elections are contested and competitive. Over the past two years, the percentage of incumbents facing a primary challenger has increased from 22.69% in 2010 to 24.57% in 2012," said Tyler King, the lead researcher of Ballotpedia's State Legislative Competitiveness Index. King noted that this means that in 75% of state legislative primary contests, voters did not have a choice.
Voters who cast ballots in this year's contested primaries have thus far opted to unseat over 17% of the 936 incumbents seeking re-election. There are still four states that have yet to hold their primary election. The 161 incumbents who have lost primary elections in 2012 compare to 96 incumbents who lost in 2010.
In its third year, Ballotpedia's index looks at three factors:
- Is the incumbent running for re-election in a district?
- If so, does he or she draw a primary challenge?
- Are two major party candidates in the general election?
California, Michigan, New Hampshire, Idaho and Nebraska have the most competitive state elections. California's incumbents will face a primary opponent in 35.7% of races and 44% of California legislative seats are open.
The five states with the least competitive races include Massachusetts, Georgia, South Carolina, Pennsylvania and Delaware. In Massachusetts, only 11.1% of incumbents will face a primary opponent and 4.5% of seats are open.
According to Ballotpedia's findings, for the 6,015 state legislative seats that are up for election on November 6, 2012, 4,783 incumbents (79.5%) are running for re-election. 24.57% of all incumbents faced a primary and in 61.66% of all races there will be more than one major party candidate in the general election. This means that in 2,306 districts, only one major party candidate will appear on the November ballot. In 21.25% of the races, the seat was open in 2012, with no incumbent running.
Established in 2007, Ballotpedia is an online almanac about state politics, elections and election law. It includes information about U.S. Congress, state legislatures, ballot measures (including ballot measure law, school bond and tax elections, recall elections and local ballot measures), governors, secretaries of state and state attorneys general. Ballotpedia's staff includes 15 researchers and writers, as well as volunteer writers and editors. It is published by the non-profit, non-partisan Lucy Burns Institute, which is based in Madison, Wisconsin.