Primary change: Three incumbents defeated in largely uneventful Massachusetts primaries

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September 7, 2012

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By Geoff Pallay

MADISON, Wisconsin: In a rare Thursday election, voters in Massachusetts visited the polls to select primary winners across the state. With the state legislature firmly in the hands of Democrats, many of the primaries yesterday ultimately decided who would be their legislator on Beacon Hill. A total of three legislative incumbents were defeated, with a four incumbent heading to a recount trailing by seven votes. The three legislators defeated had each served at least 10 years in the State House.

On July 26, 2012, Ballotpedia released an analysis of the rate at which incumbents are being defeated by challengers in state legislative primaries. That study was conducted roughly halfway through the primary season, and found that 76 incumbents had been defeated through the first 48 percent of primaries. After each primary, we will update those figures. This update focuses on Georgia and Wyoming. A total of three incumbents fell to opponents on September 6, 2012. That brings the total incumbents defeated in 2012 legislative primaries to 161.

Of the 161 incumbents that have lost a primary in 2012, 60 are Democratic incumbents and 101 are Republican incumbents.

Massachusetts

A total of 189 Massachusetts legislative incumbents filed for re-election. Twenty-one incumbents faced a primary, and opponents were victorious in three of those races. Thus, 14.29 percent of opposed incumbents were defeated by their primary challenger. Only 11.1 percent of incumbents actually faced a primary.

The three total incumbents who lost last night is significantly higher than the 1 incumbent who lost a 2010 primary in Massachusetts. Massachusetts' legislature is highly partisan, with Democrats holding 162 of 200 legislative seats. Less than one-third of the 200 seats will have a major party candidate from both parties on the general election ballot.

The race heading to a recount is between incumbent Kevin Aguiar and challenger Alan Silvia in the Democratic Primary for the 7th Bristol District.

What's next

The next state legislative primaries takes place next Tuesday, September 11 in Delaware, New Hampshire and Rhode Island. The final 2012 legislative primary is scheduled for September 13 in New York.

Cumulative table of results

Individual State Results Nationwide Cumulative Results
State Primary date Total Incumbents Running Total Incumbents Facing Primary Total Incumbents Defeated % Incumbents Defeated*** Total Incumbents Defeated Total Incumbents Facing primary % Incumbents Defeated***
Massachusetts 9/6/2012 189 21 3&&& 14.29% 161 936 17.20%
Alaska 8/28/2012 53 17 2 11.76% 158 915 17.27%
Arizona 8/28/2012 59 27 1 3.70% 158 915 17.27%
Vermont 8/28/2012 155 13 0 0% 158 915 17.27%
Wyoming 8/21/2012 60 21 3 14.29% 155 858 18.07%
Connecticut 8/14/2012 161 9 4 44.44% 152 837 18.16%
Florida 8/14/2012 111 36 3 8.33% 152 837 18.16%
Minnesota 8/14/2012 158 11 1 9.09% 152 837 18.16%
Wisconsin 8/14/2012 94 16 2 12.50% 152 837 18.16%
Hawaii 8/11/2012 71 27 5 18.5% 142 765 18.56%
Kansas 8/7/2012 129 53 20 37.74% 137 738 18.56%
Michigan 8/7/2012 91 36 5 13.89% 137 738 18.56%
Missouri 8/7/2012 126 35 8 22.86% 137 738 18.56%
Washington 8/7/2012 93 14 0 0% 137 738 18.56%
Tennessee 8/2/2012 104 37 12 32.43% 104 600 17.33%
Georgia 7/31/2012 210 50 12+++ 24.00% 92 563 16.34%
Utah 6/26/2012 78 29 8 27.59% 80 513 15.59%
Colorado 6/26/2012 54 5 2 40.00% 72 484 14.88%
Oklahoma 6/26/2012 105 12 1 8.33% 70 479 14.61%
Maine 6/12/2012 121 5 0 0.00% 69 467 14.78%
Nevada 6/12/2012 36 12 2 16.67% 69 462 14.94%
South Carolina 6/12/2012 146 37 6 16.22% 67 450 14.89%
North Dakota 6/12/2012 61 7 4 57.14% 61 413 14.77%
California 6/5/2012 56 20 0 0.00% 57 406 14.04%
Montana 6/5/2012 82 17 4 23.53% 57 386 14.77%
Iowa 6/5/2012 97 16 3 18.75% 53 369 14.36%
New Mexico 6/5/2012 92 29 5 17.24% 50 353 14.16%
South Dakota 6/5/2012 74 23 5 21.74% 45 324 13.89%
Texas 5/29/2012 147 45 11 24.44% 40 301 13.29%
Kentucky 5/22/2012 106 21 1 4.76% 29 256 11.33%
Arkansas 5/22/2012 88 14 2 14.29% 28 235 11.91%
Nebraska 5/15/2012 17 5 0 0.00% 26 221 11.76%
Oregon 5/15/2012 66 4 2 50.00% 26 216 12.04%
Idaho 5/15/2012 70 34 3 8.82% 24 212 11.32%
West Virginia 5/8/2012 98 37 2 5.41% 21 178 11.80%
Indiana 5/8/2012 105 17 0 0.00% 19 141 13.48%
North Carolina 5/8/2012 128 39 7 17.95% 19 124 15.32%
Pennsylvania 4/24/2012 210 37 5 13.51% 12 85 14.12%
Illinois 3/20/2012 149 33 6 18.18% 7 48 14.58%
Ohio 3/6/2012 101 15 1 6.67% 1 15 6.67%
***Note: The percent is calculated by dividing the total number of incumbents who lost by the number of incumbents who actually faced a primary. It is not using the total number of incumbents who ran for re-election.

+++A 12th incumbent lost in the Georgia August 21, 2012 runoff. Eleven incumbents lost in the July 31 primary.

&&&A 4th incumbent is currently losing by seven votes, as of September 7. There will be a recount.

Full study

See also