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Pennsylvania house incumbents dominate ballot

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August 12, 2010

By Linda Palmer

In the Pennsylvania House of Representatives, a state with no term limits, incumbents factor heavily on the ballot in this fall's election, according to a Ballotpedia analysis.

According to the data, states with term limits have a much higher rate of turnover than non-term limited states. Nationwide, 18 percent of seats are considered open -- where there is no incumbent running for re-election. But in states with term limits, that number jumps to 48.51 percent. In states without term limits, only 13.78 percent of seats are open.

In Pennsylvania, all 203 seats are up for election. Incumbents are running for re-election in 94.5 percent of those seats. Of the 192 seats where an incumbent is running, 79 of them face no primary or general election challenge (33 Democrats and 46 Republicans). Of the 19 incumbents who are not seeking re-election, 11 are Democrats, 7 are Republicans and 1 is a vacant seat.

With Democrats currently holding only six more seats than Republicans (see below), Democrats having more open seats, and Republicans having more unopposed races, the partisan balance of the House could be altered by this fall's election.

Party As of February 2015
     Democratic Party 83
     Republican Party 119
     Vacancy 1
Total 203

According to Louis Jacobson, a political analyst with Governing magazine, the Pennsylvania house is a tossup for this fall's election for now, but believes the Republicans might make significant progress before the election.[1]

Additionally, only 28 incumbents (14.6%) in the Pennsylvania house faced a challenge in the primary. Across the country, only 21.44% of all incumbents are facing a challenge in the primary. Thirty-nine percent of incumbents in Pennsylvania faced no challenge in either the primary or general election. Nationally, 24.86 % of incumbents are not facing any 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 Pennsylvania Republicans in Pennsylvania Democrats nationwide Republicans nationwide
Incumbent seats open 11 7 TBD TBD
Incumbents facing primary 19 9 TBD TBD
Incumbents running unopposed in primary and general 33 46 TBD TBD

See also