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State legislative competitiveness analysis following recent primaries and New York's completed candidate list

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Impact on incumbent turnover
Updates to Ballotpedia's Competitiveness Analysis
Incumbents in primariesGeneral election competitionOpen seats

August 27, 2014

By Tyler King

With only five state primaries to go, the rate of incumbents winning against primary challengers remains steady at 86.4 percent. In the last two weeks, five states held legislative primaries. Additionally, data from New York's July 10, 2014, filing deadline has been added to our analysis.

About ten percent of seats up for election in New York are open, where there is no incumbent seeking re-election. Of the incumbents who are running, 15 percent will face a primary opponent. Additionally, 58 percent of districts will feature a general election between major party candidates. The statistics from New York can be compared to the overall data, below.

Thus far, 41 states have held primary elections. Of those states, 841 incumbents retired and another 113 were defeated in primaries.

Democratic Party 20 Democrats faced primary opposition in the second half of August. Two were defeated (10.0%).
Republican Party 64 Republicans faced a primary challenger, with nine (14.1%) failing to advance past the primary.

As the primaries continue Ballotpedia will continue to update the competitiveness analysis and incumbent turnover figures, giving you the play-by-play of this year's state legislative elections. Below we detail the exact events that occurred in the most recent primaries.

Impact on incumbent turnover

See also: State legislative incumbent turnover in 2014

A total of 41 states have held primary elections in 2014, with another five to come. In the states that have held primaries, 748 incumbents retired and another 102 were defeated in primaries. 850 total incumbents will not be running in the general election, meaning that 18.8 percent of the seats up for election are open.

In total, 833 partisan incumbents have faced primary opposition so far.

Democratic Party 40 Democrats have been defeated, with 87.7 percent advancing past the primary.
Republican Party 73 Republicans have been defeated, while the remaining 85.6 percent have advanced.
  • Overall, 86.4 percent of incumbents have advanced past the primary.
  • Republicans account for 55.2 percent of overall partisan incumbent turnover, while Democrats make up 44.8 percent. Of the seats up for election in 2014, 51.6 percent are held by Republicans and 47.5 percent are held by Democrats.
Incumbent turnover compared by year
2010 2010 percent 2012 2012 percent 2014 2014 percent
Retired Democrats 579 52.07% 517 46.66% 464 45.90%
Defeated Democrats 52 54.17% 73 37.06% 40 35.40%
Total D turnover 631 52.24% 590 45.21% 504 44.84%
Retired Republicans 533 47.93% 591 53.34% 547 54.10%
Defeated Republicans 44 45.83% 124 62.94% 73 64.60%
Total R turnover 577 47.76% 715 54.79% 620 55.16%

For the full set of data, please visit our Google spreadsheet here.


August 19, 2014 election

See also: Alaska State Senate elections, 2014 and Alaska House of Representatives elections, 2014

Four incumbent state representatives, one Democrat and three Republicans, faced primary opposition. Two of the Republican incumbents to face a primary challenger were defeated. In House District 3, two incumbent legislators were facing off for the same seat. There were no incumbent state senators challenged in the August 19 primary elections.


August 5, 2014 election

See also: Wyoming State Senate elections, 2014 and Wyoming House of Representatives elections, 2014

Twenty-seven incumbents faced primary opposition. Twenty-six of those incumbents were Republicans, while there was just one Democrat to face a primary challenger. Four incumbents, all Republican state representatives, were defeated.


August 26, 2014 election

See also: Arizona State Senate elections, 2014 and Arizona House of Representatives elections, 2014

Twenty-four incumbents faced off against primary challengers. Of those 24 legislators to face opposition, 19 were Republicans and 5 were Democrats. Three were defeated, one Democrat and two Republican state representatives.


August 26, 2014 election

See also: Florida State Senate elections, 2014 and Florida House of Representatives elections, 2014

Twenty-two incumbents, eight Democrats and fourteen Republicans, faced primary opposition. One incumbent, Ricardo Rangel (R), from House District 43, failed to advance past the primary. Rangel, first elected to the chamber in 2012, was defeated by John Cortes. Representative Rangel was set to face Cortes in 2012, but ultimately ran unopposed in the primary on August 14, 2012.


August 26, 2014 election

See also: Vermont State Senate elections, 2014 and Vermont House of Representatives elections, 2014

Seven incumbents, five Democrats and two Republicans, faced primary opposition, with one being defeated. Incumbent Leigh Larocque (R), representing Caledonia-1 of the State House, was defeated by Marcia Robinson Martel. Larocque was first elected to the chamber in 1998. He had previously served from 1993 to 1997.

Incumbents in primaries

See also: Incumbents with a primary challenger in the 2014 state legislative elections

A total of 1,009 incumbents have faced or will face a primary challenger in 2014.

Since 5,026 incumbents are running for re-election in 2014, that means that only 20.1% of them faced or will face a primary challenger. In 2012, 1,175 (24.6%) of incumbents faced a primary opponent.

The remaining 4,017 incumbents (79.9%) that ran for re-election in 2014 had or will have no primary challenger.

General election competition

See also: Major party candidates with major party competition in the November 2014 state legislative elections

There are 1,972 state senators and 5,411 state representatives. Heading into the election, there are only 72 total third party legislators out of 7,383 total state legislators. Of those 72, 49 are Nebraska State Senators, where all candidates must run as a nonpartisan. Thus, a major party candidate is virtually guaranteed election when facing third parties.

  • 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.
  • There is only one major party candidate in 2,622 (43.3%) of the 6,056 seats up for election in 2014.
  • There is more than one major party candidate in 3,434 (56.7%) of the 6,056 seats up for election in 2014. In 2012, 3,709 (61.7%) seats had two or more major party candidates.

Open seats

See also: Open seats in the 2014 state legislative elections

There is no incumbent running for re-election in 1,030 (17.0%) of the 6,056 seats up for election in 2014, either because he or she voluntarily chose not to run again, impacted by term limits or affected by redistricting. This is a decrease from 21.2 percent in 2012.

In 5,026 (83.0%) of the 6,056 seats up for election in 2014, the incumbent ran for re-election.

See also