6,184 major party candidates filed for 2020 state legislative elections

Every week, we compile the latest numbers on state legislative candidates across the country. As of April 15, we’ve collected post-filing deadline data in 22 states. In 2020, 2,891 state legislative seats are up for regular election in those states, compared to 2,824 in 2018.

6,184 major party candidates—3,034 Democrats and 3,150 Republicans—have filed to run for state legislature in these states, compared to 6,260—3,179 Democrats and 3,081 Republicans—in 2018.

Elections in open seats tend to be more competitive than those where an incumbent is seeking re-election. So far, there are fewer open seats in 2020 than in 2018. In 2020, 439 major party incumbents (15.2% of seats up for election) are not running for re-election, compared to 494 major party incumbents (17.5%) in 2018.

The number of incumbents facing primary challenges in 2020 is equal to the number in 2018 at 481. Additionally, in 2020, one independent incumbent faced a top-two primary in California. In 2018, a Libertarian incumbent facing a nonpartisan primary in Nebraska. In 2018, 86.9% of the 481 incumbents challenged in these states won their primaries.

Overall, there are fewer contested state legislative primaries in 2020 than in 2018, with 1,038 and 1,064, respectively. These totals include all competitive top-two and nonpartisan primaries.

On November 3, 2020, 1,164 state senate seats and 4,711 state house seats are up for regular election for a total of 5,875 seats across 86 chambers in 44 states. There is a Republican majority in 52 chambers, a Democratic majority in 33, and a power sharing agreement in the Alaska House.

Additional reading:
State legislative battleground chambers, 2020