Alabama senate incumbents: can they find a challenger?

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August 13, 2010

By Michael Dean

In the Alabama State Senate, a state with no term limits, incumbents factor heavily on the ballot in this fall's election, according to a Ballotpedia analysis. Although not every incumbent ran for re-election, the ones that are running face little to no opposition in the primaries. The November 2 general election might have a different story to tell, but for now Alabama Senate incumbents can breath easy.

According to the data, states with term limits have a much higher rate of turnover than non-term limited states. Nationwide, 18 percent of seats are considered open -- where there is no incumbent running for re-election. But in states with term limits, that number jumps to 48.51 percent. In states without term limits, only 13.78 percent of seats are open.

In Alabama, all 35 seats up for election. Incumbents are running for re-election in 27 of these districts (about 77 percent). Although the percentage isn't as high as other states, of the 27 incumbents that are running only 21 of them even have an opponent in the primary (78 percent). This leaves only 6 senators out of 35 seats that face an opponent in the primary (4 Democrats and 2 Republicans).

With the Democrats currently holding a 5 man advantage in the senate, this fall's race could easily change the partisan balance because of the increase in people who are following politics. Yet in spite of the increased political attention 13 of Alabama's senate districts don't even have an opponent in the general election (7 Republicans face no opposition and 6 Democrats).

Party As of April 2015
     Democratic Party 8
     Republican Party 26
     Independent 1
Total 35

According to Louis Jacobson, a political analyst with Governing magazine, the Alabama Senate is considered a tossup in this fall's election.[1]

Partisan incumbents

Across the country, more Democrat incumbents are not running for re-election than Republicans. Additionally, more Democrats are facing primary opposition while more Republicans are running unopposed in the primary and general election.

Category Democrats in Alabama Republicans in Alabama Democratic senators nationwide Republican senators nationwide
Incumbent seats open 4 4 140 128
Incumbents facing primary 4 2 94 77
Incumbents running unopposed in primary and general 3 6 87 115

See also