Pennsylvania senate incumbents dominate ballot

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August 12, 2010

By Linda Palmer

In the Pennsylvania State Senate, 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, there are 25 seats up for election. Incumbents are running for re-election in 88 percent of those seats. Of the 22 seats where an incumbent is running, 9 of them face no primary or general election challenge (2 Democrats and 7 Republicans). All three incumbents not seeking re-election (Raphael Musto, Robert Mellow and Barry Stout) are Democrats.

With Republicans already controlling 60% of the senate (see below), this fall's race is not likely to bring the Democrats any significant gains.

Party As of April 2015
     Democratic Party 19
     Republican Party 30
     Vacancy 1
Total 50

According to Louis Jacobson, a political analyst with Governing magazine, the Pennsylvania Senate is safely Republican.[1]

Additionally, only two of the incumbents in Pennsylvania, both Democrats, will face a challenge in the primary. Across the country, only 21.44% of all incumbents are facing a challenge in the primary. Thirty-two percent of incumbents in Pennsylvania faced no challenge in 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 3 0 TBD TBD
Incumbents facing primary 2 0 TBD TBD
Incumbents running unopposed in primary and general 1 7 TBD TBD

See also