7,341 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 May 5, 2020, we’ve collected post-filing deadline data in 27 states. In 2020, 3,401 state legislative seats are up for regular election in those states, compared to 3,375 in 2018.

7,341 major party candidates—3,533 Democrats and 3,808 Republicans—have filed to run for state legislature in these states, compared to 7,884—3,977 Democrats and 3,907 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, 509 major party incumbents (15% of seats up for election) are not running for re-election, compared to 674 major party incumbents (20%) in 2018.

More incumbents face primary challenges in 2020 than in 2018. So far in 2020, 605 primaries feature an incumbent. Additionally, one independent incumbent faced a top-two primary in California. In 2018, there were 600 such primaries in addition to a Libertarian incumbent facing a nonpartisan primary in Nebraska. In 2018, 87% of incumbents in these states won their primaries.

Overall, there are fewer contested state legislative primaries in 2020 than in 2018, with 1,220 and 1,416, 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.

See the tables below for more information:

Additional reading:
State legislative battleground chambers, 2020