Primary competitiveness in 2011 state legislative elections

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2011 Competitiveness Overview
3Competitive 2011.jpg
Primary competition (state comparison)
Incumbents with no challenges at all in 2011
Incumbents defeatedVictorious challengers
Primary competitiveness
Major party challengers (state comparison)
List of candidates with no competition
Open seats (state comparisons)
Impact of term limits on # of open seats
Long-serving senatorsLong-serving reps
Star bookmark.png   Chart Comparing 2011 Results   Star bookmark.png
Chart Comparing 2011 ResultsComparisons Between Years
Competitiveness IndexAbsolute Index
2011 State Legislative Elections
Competitiveness Studies from Other Years
2007200920102012

In 2011, with only four states holding elections, Ballotpedia added an additional level of analysis to the study -- an increased emphasis on primary competitiveness specifically.

Mississippi

Mississippi has 52 Senate districts and 122 House districts, leaving 348 possible primaries combined in the two chambers. In Mississippi, a primary is "contested" when at least two candidates are competing for their respective party’s nomination.

There were only 26 contested primaries out of the 104 primaries in the Senate. In the House of Representatives, only 51 of the 244 primaries were contested. All told, only 77 out of the 348 primaries on August 2 (22.1%) required voters to choose between multiple candidates. In the remaining 271 primaries (77.9%), the candidate automatically advanced to the general election.

Comparing Contested Primaries of past two MS Elections
Democrats Republicans Total
2007 2011 2007 2011 2007 2011
Open Contested 16 13 16 25 32 38
Open Uncontested 21 28 33 29 54 57
Incumbent Contested 31 23 15 16 46 39
Incumbent Uncontested 66 57 44 52 110 109
No candidates 40 53 66 52 106 105
Total contested 47 36 31 41 78 77
Total uncontested 87 85 77 81 164 166
  • Total contested primaries decreased from 78 in 2007 to 77 in 2011
  • The number of incumbents contested decreased from 46 in 2007 to 39 in 2011, while the number of uncontested incumbents increased even more. In 2007, 110 incumbents were uncontested but 109 advanced straight to the general election in 2011.
  • The total number of uncontested primaries stayed largely the same -- 164 in 2007 and 166 in 2011.
  • One factor in Mississippi that stands out in primaries is the number of primaries where no candidate declares for election at all -- meaning the winner of the opposing primary is virtually guaranteed of winning in November. In other words, the primary ultimately serves as the de facto general election. In 2007, there were 106 primaries where no the major party did not field a candidate. In 2011, that figure decreased by one to 105.
  • When combining all 696 primaries over the past 2 elections, 330 -- or 47.4% -- of all primaries were uncontested.
  • However, when factoring in the the primaries with no candidate at all, only 22.3% of all primaries were contested in 2007 and 2011 combined.

Note: In Mississippi, only the House and Senate members are elected to four-year terms.

New Jersey

New Jersey has 40 legislative districts, leaving 80 possible primaries in each chamber -- 40 Democratic and 40 Republican. In the Senate, a primary is "contested" when at least two candidates are competing for their respective party’s nomination. In the General Assembly, a contested primary featured at least 3 candidates since the top-2 vote getters advance to the general election.

There were only 9 contested primaries out of the 80 primaries in the Senate. In the General Assembly, only 15 of the 80 primaries were contested. All told, only 24 out of the 160 primaries on June 7 (15%) required voters to choose between multiple candidates. In the remaining 136 primaries (85%), the candidate (or candidates in the New Jersey General Assembly) automatically advanced to the general election.

Comparing Contested Primaries of past three NJ Elections
Democrats Republicans Total
2007 2009 2011 2007 2009 2011 2007 2009 2011
Open contested 4 0 2 4 6 10 8 6 12
Open uncontested 36 15 29 46 17 40 82 32 69
Incumbent contested 7 9 8 3 8 4 10 17 12
Incumbent uncontested 33 16 38 20 7 25 53 23 63
Total contested 11 9 10 7 14 14 18 23 24
Total uncontested 69 31 67 66 24 65 135 55 132
No Candidates 0 0 3 7 2 1 7 2 4

Note: In 2009, only the General Assembly held elections. Senators are elected to four-year terms (except in the year after redistricting, like 2011, when they receive two-year terms).

  • Total contested primaries increased from 18 in 2007 to 24 in 2011
  • While the number of incumbents contested increased from 10 in 2007 to 12 in 2011, the number of uncontested incumbents increased even more. In 2007, 53 incumbents were uncontested but 63 advanced straight to the general election in 2011 due to a decrease in open seats.
  • The total number of uncontested primaries stayed largely the same -- 135 in 2007 and 132 in 2011.
  • When combining all 400 primaries over the past 3 elections, 322 -- or 80.5% -- of all primaries were uncontested.