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2012 competitiveness in Iowa state legislative elections

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August 10, 2012

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By Tyler King

MADISON, Wisconsin: Iowa's legislative elections in 2012 are less competitive than most of the country, based on Ballotpedia's Competitiveness index which captures the extent of electoral competitiveness exhibited in state legislative elections.

About the Competitiveness index:
The Ballotpedia state legislative competitive 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; and are there two major party candidates in the general election.

Ballotpedia's index is created by summing the three percentages and then dividing by three. Each state is given 1 point for each percentage. Then, the points are added up and divided by three to establish the index rating. 1 is least competitive and 100 equals most competitive.

The comprehensive 2012 state legislative competitive index will be released following the completion of the primaries in all 44 states with 2012 state legislative elections. It will examine all 6,015 state legislative seats that are up for election on November 6, 2012.

Once a state releases official primary candidate lists, Ballotpedia staff analyzes the data to determine primary competitiveness. All 44 states holding 2012 state legislative elections have been analyzed by Ballotpedia.

Iowa in 2012:
Iowa's filing deadline was on March 16, 2012. It was the 16th state to be analyzed by Ballotpedia staff and the inclusion of its data brought the national index to 37.96 in 2012.

In Iowa, there are 126 total state legislative seats with elections in 2012 and more than 80% of current incumbents are seeking re-election.

Of those 126, 26 are State Senate seats and 100 are State House seats. A total of 97 incumbents (77.0%) are seeking re-election this year. Just 16 (16.5%) incumbents running for re-election face primary opposition. Additionally, there are 34 (26.9%) districts where an incumbent did not seek re-election within that district. For November's general elections, there will be 85 (67.5%) seats where two major party candidates will appear on the ballot.

Nationwide Index
The current nationwide index is 36.90
• 44 states analyzed •
(updated August 23, 2012)

Comparison to 2010:
In 2010, Iowa ranked 29th in overall competitiveness.

  • 13.6% of Districts were open seats, increasing to 26.9% in 2012.
  • 7.4% of incumbents faced primary opposition, increasing to 16.5% in 2012.
  • 67.2% of Districts had two major party candidates in the general election, compared to 67.5% in 2012.
  • Iowa's 2010 competitiveness index was 29.4, compared to 37.0 in 2012.

See also

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