Ballotpedia’s Daily Brew: 227 state legislative incumbents defeated Nov. 3

Welcome to the Monday, Jan. 18, Brew. Here’s what’s in store for you as you start your day:

  1. Decade-low 227 state legislative incumbents defeated on Nov. 3
  2. Recall, special elections set for Jan. 19
  3. Five states to swear in newly elected officials this week

Decade-low 227 state legislative incumbents defeated on Nov. 3

With the state legislatures back in session, let’s look at the state legislative incumbents who were defeated in the Nov. 3 elections. 

Following the November election, 227 state legislative incumbents were defeated, the lowest number in the past decade. By party, those defeated incumbents include 165 Democrats, 52 Republicans, and 10 independents and members of a third party.

The 227 defeated incumbents marked a 29.5% decrease from the 322 defeated in 2018. It was 54.8% lower than the decade-high 502 incumbents defeated following the 2010 general election.

This was the fourth cycle since 2010 where the number of incumbent Democrats defeated exceeded that of Republicans.

There are three ways a seat can change hands from cycle-to-cycle: an incumbent can choose not to run for re-election and retire, an incumbent can lose in a primary, or an incumbent can lose in a general election. Ballotpedia uses all three figures to calculate incumbent turnover each year.

The chart below shows incumbent turnover since 2010 by party affiliation, with figures for retirements, primary losses, and general election losses.

Incumbent turnover in 2020 reached a decade-low 1,247, meaning state legislatures are seeing the lowest number of newcomers, 16.9% of all state legislators, since before 2010.

By party, incumbent turnover was 621 for Democrats and 626 for Republicans, the greatest level of parity over the preceding decade. More Republicans were defeated in primaries than Democrats. Both Democrats and Republicans saw their lowest numbers of retirement since at least 2010 at 396 and 480, respectively.

The table below shows turnover figures from 2010 to 2020. The rightmost column shows the decade average for each metric.

For additional analyses and a full list of defeated incumbents, click the link below.

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Recall, special elections set for Jan. 19

Although the Georgia runoffs are over, elections certainly haven’t stopped. Here are two interesting races coming up tomorrow, Jan. 19.

  • The first is a general special election for District 33 of the Alabama House of Representatives. Fred Crum (D) and Ben Robbins (R) are running, with the winner serving until November 2022. The seat became vacant after the death of Ronald Johnson (R). Heading into the election, Republicans have a 76-28 majority in the Alabama House. 
  • The first recall election of this year will also be held on Jan. 19. Voters in Woodmere, Ohio, will decide whether to recall four village councilmembers. Petitioners allege a number of grounds for recall, including the village council’s failure to install a sidewalk along a main road, its failure to keep the village’s website up-to-date, and an effort by the four councilmembers to pit residents against each other. 

Speaking of recalls, we featured our 2020 Recall Report in last week’s Brew. Here’s the link if you missed it.

Five states to swear in newly elected officials this week

Five states will swear in newly elected officials this week. They are:

  • Alabama State Board of Education and court members (Jan. 18)
  • West Virginia governor (Jan. 18)
  • Delaware governor and lieutenant governor (Jan. 19)
  • New Mexico Legislature (Jan. 19)
  • Pennsylvania state executives (Jan. 19)

Learn more