Incumbents with no primary challenger in the 2011 state legislative elections

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2011 State Legislative Elections
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There are 578 seats in 4 states with a general election in 2011. We took a look at each of the states to see how many state legislative incumbents who chose to run for re-election in 2011 did not face a primary challenger.

Our main findings:

  • The incumbent is running in 473 (81.8%) of the 578 races.
  • In 378 (65.4%) of the 578 seats up for election in 2011, the incumbent did not see an opponent in the primary election.
    • Overall, 473 incumbents ran for re-election, meaning incumbents who did not see a primary challenge amounted to 79.9% of all running incumbents.
  • In 95 (20.1%) of the 473 districts in which the incumbent ran for re-election, the incumbent saw a primary opponent.

The ranking of the four states based on percentage of incumbents with no primary challenger is as follows:

  1. Virginia
  2. New Jersey
  3. Mississippi
  4. Louisiana

Because only four states are holding elections in 2011, the sample size is small when conducting analysis. It is therefore helpful to compare the states holding elections in 2011 to the 46 states that held elections in 2010. Here is how the four states would have ranked in 2010, based on the percentage of incumbents with no primary challenger.

  • Louisiana: 8th
  • Mississippi: 14th
  • New Jersey: 22nd
  • Virginia: 45th
State Senate at stake Senate without primary challenge House at stake House without primary challenge Total without primary challenge  % without primary challenge primary challenge rank Overall competitive rank
Louisiana 39 18 105 48 66 61.7% 1 1
Mississippi 52 33 122 80 113 76.9% 2 3
New Jersey 40 31 80 49 80 81.6% 3 2
Virginia 40 34 100 85 119 98.3% 4 4

Comparison to 2007

See also: Incumbents with no primary challenger in the 2007 state legislative elections

Ballotpedia staff went back to the 2007 data to compare with this year's election. Louisiana was omitted from the 2007 study because of the blanket primary system. Accounting for the three other states that held elections in 2007 and are again in 2011, the number of incumbents with no primary challenger can be compared.

  • In Mississippi, there were 110 incumbents with no primary challenger in 2007 and 113 incumbents with no primary challenger in 2011.
  • In New Jersey, there were 70 incumbents with no primary challenger 2007 and 80 incumbents with no primary challenger 2011.
  • In Virginia, there were 122 incumbents with no primary challenger 2007 and 119 incumbents with no primary challenger 2011.

Thus, there are 10 more incumbents with no primary challenger in 2011 in the three states that can be compared.

See also