In Colorado Senate elections, incumbents play a significant role

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August 11, 2010

John Morse, ran for re-election to the Colorado State Senate from District 11. Morse has held the seat since 2007.

By Justin Voeks

In the Colorado State Senate, a state with term limits, incumbents will be on the ballot in a strong majority of the races, according to a Ballotpedia analysis.

In Colorado, there are 19 seats up for election, and incumbents are running for re-election in 13 of those races, leaving 6 open seat races. In 3 of the open seat races, the incumbent senator is ineligible to run for re-election due to term limits.

Incumbents are playing a smaller role in the Colorado Senate elections than incumbents in most other states. In Colorado, 31.58 percent of the races are open seat races, but only 18 percent of seats nationwide are open. A major reason for this difference is term limits. In states with term limits, like Colorado, 48.51 percent of senate seats are open; in states without term limits, this number falls to 13.78 percent. The data shows that, although Colorado's incumbents are playing a smaller role in the 2010 elections than incumbents in most other states, incumbents still are running in a strong majority of the races. Additionally, incumbents in Colorado are running in a higher percentage of the races than incumbents in most other states with term limits.

Currently, Democrats control the state senate by a 7-seat margin. Louis Jacobson, a political analyst with Governing magazine, rates the Colorado Senate as leaning towards the Democrats in this fall's election.[1]

Party As of May 2015
     Democratic Party 17
     Republican Party 18
Total 35

Three incumbents in Colorado will face primary challenges, two Democrats and one Republican. Nationally, only 21.44% of incumbent senators are facing a primary challenge. One incumbent Republican in Colorado faced no challenge in the primary election and will also no face challenge in the general election. Nationally, 24.86% of incumbent senators are facing no primary or general election challenge.

Partisan incumbents

Across the country, more Democrat incumbents are not running for re-election than Republicans. Additionally, more Democrats are facing primary opposition.

Category Democrats in Colorado Republicans in Colorado Democrats nationwide Republicans nationwide
Incumbent seats open 3 3 TBD TBD
Incumbents facing primary 2 1 TBD TBD
Incumbents running unopposed in primary and general 0 1 TBD TBD

See also