Primary competitiveness rises for state legislators compared to 2015 and 2017

In 2019, Ballotpedia published primary competitiveness data following each state’s major-party candidate filing deadline. Five states are holding regular statewide elections: Kentucky, Louisiana, and Mississippi are holding elections for state executive offices, and Louisiana, Mississippi, New Jersey, and Virginia are holding elections for state legislative seats.
 
A contested primary is defined as one in which voters have a choice on the ballot. As of the report’s publication, 28.8% of all possible state primary races are or were contested this year. This figure is similar to the 28.9% contested primary races in 2015. Comparatively, 16.1% of primaries were contested in 2017. This year, state executive primaries are contested in 67.4% of the races, and state legislative primaries are contested in 26.8% of the races.
 
Approximately 31.2% of the incumbents running for re-election in 2019 face contested primaries. Sixty percent of state executive incumbents face challengers across 25 seats, and 30.1% of state legislative incumbents face challengers across 538 seats. The percentage 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 percentage of state legislative incumbents facing opponents is greater than in both 2017 (16.0% across 220 seats) and 2015 (26.9% across 398 seats).
 



About the author

Marielle Bricker

Marielle Bricker is a staff writer at Ballotpedia and can be reached at marielle.bricker@ballotpedia.org

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