Major party candidates with major party competition in the November 2011 state legislative elections

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2011 Competitiveness Overview
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Primary competition (state comparison)
Incumbents with no challenges at all in 2011
Incumbents defeatedVictorious challengers
Primary competitiveness
Major party challengers (state comparison)
List of candidates with no competition
Open seats (state comparisons)
Impact of term limits on # of open seats
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2011 State Legislative Elections
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There are 578 seats in 4 states with a general election in 2011. We took a look at each of the states to see how many state legislative districts have only one major party candidate running in the general election.

At any given time, roughly 98% of all 7,384 state legislators are either Democratic or Republican. In Nebraska, all 49 state senators are elected as nonpartisans. Thus, in the remaining 49 states, either a Democratic or Republican candidate is virtually guaranteed victory in a general election. Given that major party candidates win nearly 100% of the time, a candidate running without any major party opposition is essentially assured election -- even if there are third party candidates.

Our main finding:

  • There was only one major party candidate in 246 (42.6%) of the 578 districts holding state legislative elections in 2011. About 2 in 5 districts holding general elections in 2011 fielded only one major party candidate.

The ranking of the four states based on the number of major party candidates who do not face a major party opponent is as follows:

  1. New Jersey
  2. Louisiana
  3. Virginia
  4. Mississippi

Because only four states are holding elections in 2011, the sample size is small when conducting analysis. It is therefore helpful to compare the states holding elections in 2011 to the 46 states that held elections in 2010. Here is how the four states would have ranked in 2010, based on the percentage of open seats.

  • Louisiana: 37th
  • Mississippi: 45th
  • New Jersey: 1st
  • Virginia: 43rd

States compared by major party competition

State Senate at stake Senate No Major Party Opposition House at stake House No Major Party Opposition Total No Major Party Opposition  % without Major Party Opposition Major party competitive rank Overall competitive rank
Louisiana 39 20 105 43 63 43.8% 2 1
Mississippi 52 28 122 75 103 59.2% 4 3
New Jersey 40 1 80 0 1 0.8% 1 2
Virginia 40 16 100 63 79 56.4% 3 4

Comparison to 2007

See also: Major party candidates with major party competition in the November 2007 state legislative elections

Ballotpedia staff went back to the 2007 data to compare with this year's election. Louisiana was omitted from the 2007 study because of the blanket primary system. Accounting for the three other states that held elections in 2007 and are again in 2011, the number of major party candidates without a major party opponent can be compared.

  • In Mississippi, there were 105 major party candidates without a major party opponent in 2007 and 103 major party candidates without a major party opponent in 2011.
  • In New Jersey, there were 10 major party candidates without a major party opponent in 2007 and 0 major party candidates without a major party opponent in 2011.
  • In Virginia, there were 92 major party candidates without a major party opponent in 2007 and 78 major party candidates without a major party opponent in 2011.

Thus, there were 26 more major party candidates without a major party opponent in 2007 in the three states that can be compared.

In short, this statistic when isolated would imply a greater number of candidates for voters to choose from during the general election.

See also