State legislatures compared by extent of electoral competitiveness in 2014

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2014 Competitiveness Overview
Competitiveness2014.jpg
Primary competition (state comparison)
Incumbents defeatedVictorious challengers
Primary competitiveness
Major party challengers (state comparison)
Candidates with no challenges at all in 2014
Open seats (state comparisons)
Impact of term limits on # of open seats
Long-serving senatorsLong-serving reps
Star bookmark.png   Chart Comparing 2014 Results   Star bookmark.png
Chart Comparing 2014 ResultsComparisons Between Years
Competitiveness IndexAbsolute Index
2014 State Legislative Elections
State legislative incumbent turnover in 2014
Competitiveness Studies from Other Years
200720092010201120122013

Using the arithmetical averages of each state's scores on "open seats," "incumbent primary contests" and "major party competition," Ballotpedia has ranked the top five states for competitiveness in 2014 state legislative elections.


The top five states include:

  1. California
  2. Nebraska
  3. Michigan
  4. Maryland
  5. Montana

The lowest ranking states include:

45. South Carolina
44. Georgia
43. Vermont
42. Rhode Island
41. Massachusetts

In each case a lower number, such as 1, represents a more electorally competitive environment, and a higher number, such as 20, represents a less electorally competitive environment.

Under the absolute scenario, 100% of all incumbents facing a primary opponent, 100% of incumbents facing a primary and 100% of all general election seats having Democratic and Republican candidates. Thus, there would be a degree of 100 -- the most competitive (hypothetical) scenario.

The term "competitive" is not used to declare which states are hotly contested between political parties. Instead, the term is used to indicate competitive environment on a ballot access level. The goal of the Competitiveness Index is to capture whether elections are being held for state legislatures where incumbents are being challenged and opportunities for these challenges are being considered by candidates.

Note: California, Louisiana and Washington employ a top-two primary system. In top-two states, two primary candidates from any party can advance to the general election.

States compared by electoral competitiveness

The chart below captures the ranking that a state legislature received on all three factors in this Election Competitiveness Index.

  • The first column, "Open Seats," contrasts states based on the percentage of incumbents who ran for re-election in 2014.
  • The second column, "Primary Contests," ranks states against each other based on the percentage of incumbents who had a primary challenger.
  • The third column, "Major Party Competition," ranks states against each other based on the percentage of major party candidates on the general election ballot with a major party challenger.
  • The fourth column, "Overall rank," is an arithmetical average of the state's scores on all three factors.


Legend:      Top 5 Most Competitive     Bottom 5 Least Competitive     States with state legislative term limits
States compared by electoral competitiveness
State legislature Open seats Primary contests Major party competition Overall rank
Alabama 20 10 34 27
Alaska 21 37 16 22
Arizona 7 4 20 8
Arkansas 11 36 43 40
California 4 2 3 1
Colorado 9 45 11 15
Connecticut 25 42 12 23
Delaware 46 23 22 29
Florida 26 25 35 36
Georgia 43 20 46 45
Hawaii 41 5 13 12
Idaho 31 6 24 16
Illinois 35 34 36 41
Indiana 44 35 27 39
Iowa 27 40 29 37
Kansas 33 22 21 24
Kentucky 38 30 30 35
Maine 5 46 4 10
Maryland 10 1 18 4
Massachusetts 32 38 37 42
Michigan 3 14 1 3
Minnesota 29 44 3 14
Missouri 18 29 28 30
Montana 2 18 5 5
Nebraska 1 31 6 2
Nevada 16 9 17 13
New Hampshire 8 7 10 6
New Mexico 19 33 31 34
New York 36 28 23 28
North Carolina 40 24 25 31
North Dakota 17 41 14 20
Ohio 13 12 8 7
Oklahoma 12 16 39 25
Oregon 15 39 19 19
Pennsylvania 28 21 32 32
Rhode Island 45 19 44 43
South Carolina 42 26 45 46
South Dakota 6 17 33 17
Tennessee 34 13 38 33
Texas 39 11 41 38
Utah 24 15 9 11
Vermont 23 43 40 44
Washington 30 27 15 18
West Virginia 37 8 7 9
Wisconsin 14 32 26 26
Wyoming 22 3 42 21

See also