7,686 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 19, 2020, we’ve collected post-filing deadline data in 29 states. In 2020, 3,574 state legislative seats are up for regular election in those states, compared to 3,547 in 2018.

7,686 major party candidates—3,686 Democrats and 4,000 Republicans—have filed to run for state legislature in these states, compared to 8,248—4,153 Democrats and 4,095 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, 543 major party incumbents (15% of seats up for election) are not running for re-election, compared to 730 major party incumbents (21%) in 2018.

More incumbents face primary challenges in 2020 than in 2018. So far in 2020, 622 primaries feature an incumbent. Additionally, one independent incumbent faced a top-two primary in California. In 2018, there were 611 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 1,257 and 1,454, 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