Are 2019’s state primaries on track to be more or less competitive than in recent election cycles?

In 2019, Ballotpedia is publishing primary election competitiveness data following each state’s major-party candidate filing deadline. Five states will hold regular statewide elections: Kentucky, Mississippi, and Louisiana will hold elections for state executive offices, and Mississippi, Louisiana, New Jersey, and Virginia will hold elections for state legislative seats. Filing deadlines have passed in every state except Louisiana, whose filing deadline is August 8. Ballotpedia will update the data set after that final candidate filing deadline has passed.
A contested primary is defined as one in which voters have a choice on the ballot. As of the publication of this report, 20.7% of possible state primary races are contested in 2019. State executive primaries are contested in 61.1% of the races, and state legislative primaries are contested in 18.6% of the races. Comparatively, 16.1% of primaries were contested in 2017, and 28.9% were contested in 2015.
Approximately 25.6% of incumbents face contested primaries in 2019. Twenty-five percent of state executive incumbents face challengers across 18 seats, and 25.6% of state legislative incumbents face challengers across 394 seats. The number of state executive incumbents facing opponents is lower than in both 2017 (66.7% across seven seats) and 2015 (68.8% across 25 seats). By contrast, the number of state legislative incumbents facing opponents is greater than in 2017 (16.0% across 220 seats) but lower than in 2015 (26.9% across 398 seats).

About the author

Marielle Bricker

Marielle Bricker is a staff writer at Ballotpedia and can be reached at