Major party candidates with major party competition in the November 2010 state legislative elections

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By Geoff Pallay and Leslie Graves

There are 6,125 state legislative districts, in 46 states, with a seat up for election on November 2, 2010. We took a look at each of the 46 states to see how many state legislative districts have only one major party candidate running in the general election.

Our main findings:

  • There are 1,971 state senators and 5,413 state representatives. There are only 24 total third party legislators out of 7,384 total state legislators. Thus, a major party candidate is virtually guaranteed election when facing third parties.
  • There is only one major party candidate in 2,000 (32.7%) of the 6,125 districts holding state legislative elections in 2010. Nearly 1 in 3 districts holding elections this November fielded only one major party candidate.[1]
  • Given that major party candidates win nearly 100% of the time, a candidate running without any major party opposition is essentially assured election -- even if there are third party candidates.

Comparing states:

  • South Carolina, Wyoming, Arkansas, Georgia and Texas have the most major party candidates without major party opposition -- in other words, these five states had the least amount of competitiveness at the primary level.
  • The five states with the most competitive general elections in terms of major party candidates are New Hampshire, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, and Oregon.

The score that states received based on their ratio of major party competition is one of 3 factors used in evaluating which states have the highest, and which the lowest, overall competitiveness in the 2010 state legislative elections.

Competitiveness of states based on major party candidates with major party opposition.png

States compared by major party competition

Legend:      States with state legislative term limits



The state that is least competitive as defined by the percentage of its seats where there is only one major party candidate in 2010 is defined as #46, while the state that is most competitive as defined by the percentage of its seats where there are Democratic and Republican candidates is defined as #1; that is, 1 = "most competitive", 46 = "least competitive".

Note: Nebraska is officially a non-partisan legislature. Thus, in order to include that election in the index, we counted any district where a candidate faced no general election competition as qualifying under the "no major competition" category. In the 24 districts with elections, there are 7 candidates that face no general election competition.

State Senate at stake No Major Party Opposition House at stake No Major Party Opposition  % without Major Party Opposition Major party competitive rank Overall competitive rank
Alabama 35 14 105 66 57.14% 41 22
Alaska 10 5 40 16 42.00% 30 31
Arizona 30 10 60 12 24.44% 16 3
Arkansas 17 10 100 68 66.67% 44 33
California 20 2 80 6 8.00% 6 11
Colorado 19 1 65 11 14.29% 10 21
Connecticut 36 6 151 36 22.46% 14 36
Delaware 11 5 41 17 42.31% 32 44
Florida 23 14 120 59 51.05% 37 17
Georgia 56 35 180 121 66.10% 43 28
Hawaii 13 1 51 5 9.38% 7 6
Idaho 35 17 70 30 44.76% 36 30
Illinois 21 6 118 49 39.57% 28 39
Indiana 25 6 100 41 37.60% 26 37
Iowa 25 8 100 33 32.80% 22 29
Kansas NA NA 125 53 42.40% 33 34
Kentucky 19 4 100 47 42.86% 35 43
Maine 35 2 151 3 2.69% 2 14
Maryland 47 19 141 24 22.87% 15 5
Massachusetts 40 16 160 92 54.00% 39 40
Michigan 38 0 110 4 2.70% 3 2
Minnesota 67 2 134 4 2.99% 4 24
Missouri 17 8 163 69 42.78% 34 20
Montana 26 6 100 29 27.78% 18 12
Nebraska 24 7 NA NA 29.17% 20 7
Nevada 11 2 42 3 9.43% 8 4
New Hampshire 24 0 400 8 1.89% 1 1
New Mexico NA NA 70 36 51.43% 38 42
New York 62 8 150 38 21.70% 12 13
North Carolina 50 12 120 44 32.94% 23 19
North Dakota 24 8 48 8 22.22% 13 25
Ohio 17 1 99 15 13.79% 9 8
Oklahoma 24 14 101 55 55.20% 40 32
Oregon 16 0 60 5 6.58% 5 27
Pennsylvania 25 9 203 85 41.23% 29 38
Rhode Island 38 14 75 28 37.17% 24 15
South Carolina NA NA 124 87 70.16% 46 41
South Dakota 35 13 70 19 30.48% 21 18
Tennessee 17 6 99 43 42.24% 31 45
Texas 16 8 150 93 60.84% 42 46
Utah 15 1 75 18 21.11% 11 10
Vermont 30 1 150 67 37.78% 27 35
Washington 25 9 98 37 37.40% 25 26
West Virginia 17 5 100 24 24.79% 17 9
Wisconsin 17 2 99 31 28.45% 19 16
Wyoming 15 10 60 41 68.00% 45 23
Totals: 1,167 320 4,958 1,680 32.7% NA NA

See also

Footnote

  1. On September 24, Richard Winger's Ballot Access News listed 36.1% of all elections as having no Republican nominee or no Democratic nominee. The reason for the discrepancy relates to multi-member districts. At Ballot Access News, if a district elected 5 members and one major party nominated 3 candidates while the other nominated 5, then there would be 2 seats counted as "no major party competition."At Ballotpedia, we only counted districts where there was no major party presence at all. Even though that one party would be guaranteed to have some candidates win because it outnumbered the opposition, it is impossible to predict exactly which candidates. Thus, we considered those competitive.