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Primary change: Georgia voters bring incumbent defeat rate above 16 percent

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August 2, 2012

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By Geoff Pallay

MADISON, Wisconsin: On July 26, 2012, Ballotpedia released an analysis of the rate at which incumbents are being defeated by challengers in state legislative primaries. That study was conducted roughly halfway through the primary season, and found that 76 incumbents had been defeated through the first 48 percent of primaries. After each primary, we will update those figures. This update focuses on Georgia and Texas, where a total of 15 incumbents fell to opponents on July 31, 2012.

A total of 210 Georgia legislative incumbents filed for re-election. Fifty incumbents faced a primary, and challengers were victorious in 11 of those races. Thus, 22 percent of opposed incumbents were defeated by their primary challenger.

Additionally, that night four incumbent state legislators in Texas were defeated in primary runoff races. That brought the Texas total to 11, after seven incumbents had already been defeated in the May 29, 2012 Texas primary.

The 15 total incumbents who lost on July 31 brought the nationwide figure to 91 defeated in 2012 primaries. Incumbents have been defeated in 16.16 percent of the primaries where they faced an actual opponent.

Of the 91 incumbents that have lost a primary in 2012, 27 are Democratic incumbents and 64 are Republican incumbents.

What's next

The next state legislative primary takes place tonight in Tennessee. A total of 115 seats will be on the ballot. There are 37 incumbents facing a primary opponent. We'll have detailed results tomorrow.

Cumulative table of results

Individual State Results Nationwide Cumulative Results
State Primary date Total Incumbents Running Total Incumbents Facing Primary Total Incumbents Defeated % Incumbents Defeated*** Total Incumbents Defeated Total Incumbents Facing primary % Incumbents Defeated***
Georgia 7/31/2012 210 50 11 22.00% 91 563 16.16%
Utah 6/26/2012 78 29 8 27.59% 80 513 15.59%
Colorado 6/26/2012 54 5 2 40.00% 72 484 14.88%
Oklahoma 6/26/2012 105 12 1 8.33% 70 479 14.61%
Maine 6/12/2012 121 5 0 0.00% 69 467 14.78%
Nevada 6/12/2012 36 12 2 16.67% 69 462 14.94%
South Carolina 6/12/2012 146 37 6 16.22% 67 450 14.89%
North Dakota 6/12/2012 75 7 4 57.14% 61 413 14.77%
California 6/5/2012 56 20 0 0.00% 57 406 14.04%
Montana 6/5/2012 82 17 4 23.53% 57 386 14.77%
Iowa 6/5/2012 97 16 3 18.75% 53 369 14.36%
New Mexico 6/5/2012 92 29 5 17.24% 50 353 14.16%
South Dakota 6/5/2012 74 23 5 21.74% 45 324 13.89%
Texas 5/29/2012 147 45 11 24.44% 40 301 13.29%
Kentucky 5/22/2012 106 21 1 4.76% 29 256 11.33%
Arkansas 5/22/2012 88 14 2 14.29% 28 235 11.91%
Nebraska 5/15/2012 17 5 0 0.00% 26 221 11.76%
Oregon 5/15/2012 66 4 2 50.00% 26 216 12.04%
Idaho 5/15/2012 70 34 3 8.82% 24 212 11.32%
West Virginia 5/8/2012 98 37 2 5.41% 21 178 11.80%
Indiana 5/8/2012 105 17 0 0.00% 19 141 13.48%
North Carolina 5/8/2012 128 39 7 17.95% 19 124 15.32%
Pennsylvania 4/24/2012 210 37 5 13.51% 12 85 14.12%
Illinois 3/20/2012 149 33 6 18.18% 7 48 14.58%
Ohio 3/6/2012 101 15 1 6.67% 1 15 6.67%
***Note: The percent is calculated by dividing the total number of incumbents who lost by the number of incumbents who actually faced a primary. It is not using the total number of incumbents who ran for re-election.

Full study

See also