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2012 competitiveness in Tennessee state legislative elections

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July 30, 2012


By Tyler King

MADISON, Wisconsin: Tennessee's legislative elections in 2012 are less competitive than most of the country, based on Ballotpedia's Competitiveness index which captures the extent of electoral competitiveness exhibited in state legislative elections.

About the Competitiveness index:
The Ballotpedia state legislative competitive index looks at three factors: is the incumbent running for re-election in a district; if so, does he or she draw a primary challenge; and are there two major party candidates in the general election.

Ballotpedia's index is created by summing the three percentages and then dividing by three. Each state is given 1 point for each percentage. Then, the points are added up and divided by three to establish the index rating. 1 is least competitive and 100 equals most competitive.

The comprehensive 2012 state legislative competitive index will be released following the completion of the primaries in all 44 states with 2012 state legislative elections. It will examine all 6,015 state legislative seats that are up for election on November 6, 2012.

Once a state releases official primary candidate lists, Ballotpedia staff analyzes the data to determine primary competitiveness. All 44 states holding 2012 state legislative elections have been analyzed by Ballotpedia.

Tennessee in 2012:
Tennessee's filing deadline was on April 5, 2012. It was the 24th state to be analyzed by Ballotpedia staff and the inclusion of its data brought the national index to 38.21 in 2012.

In Tennessee, there are 115 total state legislative seats with elections in 2012 and nearly all current incumbents are seeking re-election.

Of those 115, 16 are State Senate seats and 99 are State House seats. A total of 104 incumbents (90.4%) are seeking re-election this year. Just 37 (35.6%) incumbents running for re-election face primary opposition. Additionally, there are 20 (17.4%) districts where an incumbent did not seek re-election within that district. For November's general elections, there will be 62 (53.9%) seats where more than one major party candidate will appear on the ballot.

Nationwide Index
The current nationwide index is 36.90
• 44 states analyzed •
(updated August 23, 2012)

Comparison to 2010:
In 2010, Tennessee ranked 45th in overall competitiveness.

  • 8.6% of Districts were open seats, increasing to 17.4% in 2012.
  • 12.3% of incumbents faced primary opposition, increasing to 35.6% in 2012.
  • 57.8% of Districts had more than one major party candidate in the general election, compared to 53.9% in 2012.
  • Tennessee's 2010 competitiveness index was 26.3, compared to 35.6 in 2012.

See also

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