National contested primary average during the 2012 U.S. congressional elections

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There were 435 U.S. House seats up for election in 2012. Ballotpedia staff measured the competitiveness of the primary elections based on two factors: number of contested primaries and number of incumbents facing a primary challenge.

This page is used to provide readers with a competitiveness index similar to that used in Ballotpedia's state legislative Competitiveness Study. The results below illustrate how many primaries were contested. The first set of results represents how many of all national House of Representative primary elections were contested. The second set counts only those primaries in which one of the candidates is the incumbent member.

Summary of results

  • 51.40% of incumbents who ran for re-election faced a primary challenge (202 of 393).
  • 51.70% of party primaries were contested (411 of 795).
  • There were six states where every primary was contested. Those six states were Hawaii, Washington,[1] Alaska, Rhode Island, Montana and Idaho.
  • The five states with the fewest percentage of contested primaries were Vermont (0%), Wyoming (0%), Wisconsin (12.50%), Colorado (21.43%) and Pennsylvania (22.22%)
  • In 11 states, no incumbents faced a primary. The state with the most representatives where no incumbent faced a primary was Connecticut with five seats.

Full results of primary competitiveness

Contested House of Representatives primaries

This figure was calculated from the percentage of major party races in each state that were contested (races in which all primary candidates cannot advance to the general election). In 2012, 54.31% of party primaries were contested (466 of 858).
Contested Primaries during the 2012 Congressional Elections
Individual State Results Nationwide Cumulative Results
State Primary date # of seats Democratic contested primaries Republican contested primaries Contested Major Party primaries % contested primaries Nationwide Contested primaries Total possible party primaries so far Nationwide Contested primaries %
Delaware 9/11/2012 1 0 1 1 50.00% 466 858 54.31%
New Hampshire 9/11/2012 2 0 2 2 50.00% 465 856 54.32%
Rhode Island 9/11/2012 2 2 2 4 100.00% 463 852 54.34%
Massachusetts 9/6/2012 9 4 5 9 50.00% 459 848 54.13%
Alaska 8/28/2012 1 1 1 2 100.00% 450 830 54.22%
Arizona 8/28/2012 9 7 8 15 83.33% 448 828 54.11%
Vermont 8/28/2012 1 0 0 0 0.00% 433 810 53.46%
Wyoming 8/21/2012 1 0 0 0 0.00% 433 808 53.59%
Connecticut 8/14/2012 5 1 2 3 30.00% 433 806 53.72%
Florida 8/14/2012 27 7 11 18 33.33% 430 796 54.02%
Minnesota 8/14/2012 8 3 5 8 50.00% 412 742 55.53%
Wisconsin 8/14/2012 8 1 1 2 12.50% 404 726 55.65%
Hawaii 8/11/2012 2 2 2 4 100.00% 402 710 56.62%
Kansas 8/7/2012 4 2 0 2 25.00% 398 706 56.37%
Michigan 8/7/2012 14 7 6 13 46.43% 396 698 56.73%
Missouri 8/7/2012 8 3 7 10 62.50% 383 670 57.16%
Washington 8/7/2012 10 10 10 20 100.00% 373 654 57.03%
Tennessee 8/2/2012 9 3 7 10 55.56% 353 634 55.68%
Georgia 7/31/2012 14 4 8 12 42.86% 343 616 55.68%
Colorado 6/26/2012 7 0 3 3 21.43% 331 588 56.29%
New York 6/26/2012 27 10 5 15 27.78% 328 574 57.14%
Oklahoma 6/26/2012 5 3 4 7 70.00% 313 520 60.19%
Utah 6/26/2012 4 3 4 7 87.50% 306 510 60.00%
Maine 6/12/2012 2 0 2 2 50.00% 299 502 59.56%
Nevada 6/12/2012 4 2 3 5 62.50% 297 498 59.64%
North Dakota 6/12/2012 1 1 0 1 50.00% 292 490 59.59%
South Carolina 6/12/2012 7 3 2 5 35.71% 291 488 59.63%
Virginia 6/12/2012 11 2 4 6 27.27% 286 474 60.34%
California 6/5/2012 53 45 45 90 84.91% 280 452 61.95%
Iowa 6/5/2012 4 1 2 3 37.50% 190 346 54.91%
Montana 6/5/2012 1 1 1 2 100.00% 187 338 55.33%
New Jersey 6/5/2012 12 6 6 12 50.00% 185 336 55.06%
New Mexico 6/5/2012 3 1 1 2 33.33% 173 312 55.45%
South Dakota 6/5/2012 1 1 0 1 50.00% 171 306 55.88%
Texas 5/29/2012 36 16 24 40 55.56% 170 304 55.92%
Arkansas 5/22/2012 4 2 1 3 37.50% 130 232 56.03%
Kentucky 5/22/2012 6 4 2 6 50.00% 127 224 56.70%
Idaho 5/15/2012 2 2 2 4 100.00% 121 212 57.08%
Nebraska 5/15/2012 3 1 3 4 66.67% 117 208 56.25%
Oregon 5/15/2012 5 2 3 5 50.00% 113 202 55.94%
Indiana 5/8/2012 9 8 6 14 77.78% 108 192 56.25%
North Carolina 5/8/2012 13 8 10 18 69.23% 94 174 54.02%
West Virginia 5/8/2012 3 1 2 3 50.00% 76 148 51.35%
Pennsylvania 4/24/2012 18 6 2 8 22.22% 73 142 51.41%
Maryland 4/3/2012 8 7 7 14 87.50% 65 106 61.32%
Illinois 3/20/2012 18 14 6 20 55.56% 51 90 56.67%
Alabama 3/13/2012 7 2 4 6 42.86% 31 54 57.41%
Mississippi 3/13/2012 4 2 3 5 62.50% 25 40 62.50%
Ohio 3/6/2012 16 10 10 20 62.50% 20 32 62.50%

Contested House of Representatives primaries involving incumbents

This figure illustrates the percentage of incumbents who ran for re-election who faced competition in the primary election. In 2012, 51.40% of incumbents who ran for re-election faced a primary challenge (202 of 393).
Contested Primaries involving incumbents during the 2012 Congressional Elections
Individual State Results Nationwide Cumulative Results
State Primary date # of seats Incs running Incs facing primary % incs with primary Nationwide incs face primary Nationwide Incs running Nationwide incs face primary %
Louisiana 11/06/2012 6 7 2 33.33% 202 393 51.40%
Delaware 9/11/2012 1 1 0 0.00% 200 386 51.81%
New Hampshire 9/11/2012 2 2 2 100.00% 200 385 51.95%
Rhode Island 9/11/2012 2 2 2 100.00% 198 383 51.70%
Massachusetts 9/6/2012 9 8 3 37.50% 196 381 51.44%
Alaska 8/28/2012 1 1 1 100.00% 193 373 51.74%
Arizona 8/28/2012 9 7 7 100.00% 192 372 51.61%
Vermont 8/28/2012 1 1 0 0.00% 185 365 50.68%
Wyoming 8/21/2012 1 1 0 0.00% 185 364 50.82%
Connecticut 8/14/2012 5 4 0 0.00% 185 363 50.96%
Florida 8/14/2012 27 24 8 33.33% 185 359 51.53%
Minnesota 8/14/2012 8 8 5 62.50% 177 335 52.84%
Wisconsin 8/14/2012 8 7 1 14.29% 172 327 52.60%
Hawaii 8/11/2012 2 1 1 100.00% 171 320 53.44%
Kansas 8/7/2012 4 4 0 0.00% 170 319 53.29%
Michigan 8/7/2012 14 13 7 53.85% 170 315 53.97%
Missouri 8/7/2012 8 8 6 75.00% 163 302 53.97%
Washington 8/7/2012 10 7 7 100.00% 157 294 53.40%
Tennessee 8/2/2012 9 9 6 66.67% 150 287 52.26%
Georgia 7/31/2012 14 13 6 46.15% 144 278 51.80%
Colorado 6/26/2012 7 7 1 14.29% 138 265 52.08%
New York 6/26/2012 27 25 6 24.00% 137 258 53.10%
Oklahoma 6/26/2012 5 4 3 75.00% 131 233 56.22%
Utah 6/26/2012 4 3 2 66.67% 128 229 55.90%
Maine 6/12/2012 2 2 0 0.00% 126 226 55.75%
Nevada 6/12/2012 4 2 1 50.00% 126 224 56.25%
North Dakota 6/12/2012 1 0 0 0.00% 125 222 56.31%
South Carolina 6/12/2012 7 7 1 14.28% 125 222 56.31%
Virginia 6/12/2012 11 11 4 36.36% 125 214 58.41%
California 6/5/2012 53 46 37 80.43% 120 204 58.82%
Iowa 6/5/2012 4 5 1 20.00% 83 159 52.20%
Montana 6/5/2012 1 0 0 0.00% 82 154 53.25%
New Jersey 6/5/2012 12 12 8 66.67% 82 153 53.59%
New Mexico 6/5/2012 3 2 0 0.00% 74 141 52.48%
South Dakota 6/5/2012 1 1 0 0.00% 74 139 53.24%
Texas 5/29/2012 36 30 20 66.67% 74 138 53.62%
Arkansas 5/22/2012 4 3 0 0.00% 54 108 50.00%
Kentucky 5/22/2012 6 5 1 20.00% 54 105 51.42%
Idaho 5/15/2012 2 2 2 100.00% 53 100 53.00%
Nebraska 5/15/2012 3 3 3 100.00% 51 98 52.04%
Oregon 5/15/2012 5 5 1 20.00% 48 95 50.52%
Indiana 5/8/2012 9 6 2 33.33% 47 90 52.22%
North Carolina 5/8/2012 13 10 7 70.00% 45 84 53.57%
West Virginia 5/8/2012 3 3 1 33.33% 38 74 51.35%
Pennsylvania 4/24/2012 18 18 5 27.78% 37 71 52.11%
Maryland 4/3/2012 8 8 6 75.00% 32 53 60.38%
Illinois 3/20/2012 18 18 8 44.44% 26 45 57.78%
Alabama 3/13/2012 7 7 3 42.86% 18 27 66.67%
Mississippi 3/13/2012 4 4 4 100.00% 15 20 75.00%
Ohio 3/6/2012 16 16 11 68.75% 11 16 68.75%

See also

Footnotes

  1. Washington is one of three states with blanket primaries. Because of this, a greater percentage of primaries are classified as contested because there is only one primary for all candidates regardless of party. We classify a primary as contested if there are at least three candidates on the ballot. In other words, do voters have a choice at the polls.