Competitiveness in National Elections Does Not Trickle Down to State Level

Oct 06, 2010, 10:00 ET from Ballotpedia

MADISON, Wis., Oct. 6 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The fierce competition that marks the country's national election is missing in 2010's state legislative elections, according to a study of electoral competitiveness conducted by Ballotpedia.

6,125 state legislative seats in 46 states are up for election on November 2, 2010.

46 states with legislative elections in 2010 were contrasted using an Electoral Competitiveness Index.  The five states with the most competitive state legislative elections in 2010 are New Hampshire, Michigan, Arizona, Nevada and Maryland.  The five states with the least competitive state legislative elections are Texas, Tennessee, Delaware, Kentucky and New Mexico.

The main findings of the study show:

  • In 2,000 (or 32.7%) of the 6,125 contests on November 2, there is only one major party candidate.
  • Only 1,133 incumbents faced primary opposition.  77.3% of incumbents faced no primary challenger. Of the 1,133 incumbents who did face a primary, only 95 were defeated by the challenger.  91.6% of all incumbents who faced a primary opponent won their primary. Considering the 4,985 incumbents who elected to run for re-election, only 1.9% did not make it to the general election.
  • The incumbent is seeking re-election in 81.4% of state legislative races. In the 32 states with state legislative elections where there are no state legislative term limits, incumbents are running in 87.2% of districts with 2010 elections. In the 14 term-limited states holding legislative elections in 2010, on the other hand, 35.19% of seats were open this year

The competitiveness index was based on three factors: whether the incumbent retired, primary opposition to incumbents, and participation of multiple major parties in the November 2 election.

Geoff Pallay, Ballotpedia's state legislative elections editor, said putting the comparative results in an absolute scale indicates that New Hampshire, 2010's most competitive state, is competitive 86.5% of the time where Texas was competitive only 28.76% of the time.

Pallay said that if 70% is a passing grade for absolute competitiveness, only two states in 2010 would receive a grade above D for competitiveness --  Maryland and New Hampshire. is sponsored by the non-profit, non-partisan Lucy Burns Institute (LBI) based in Madison, Wisconsin.

SOURCE Ballotpedia