Eight state legislative incumbents—five Democrats and three Republicans— lost in primaries in 2022, representing 3.9% of all incumbents who filed for re-election and 20% of all incumbents who faced contested primaries.
This was an average number of incumbents defeated in primaries compared to the five odd-year election cycles before it. Sixteen incumbents lost primaries in 2019. No incumbents lost primaries in 2017.
Two hundred and twenty state legislative seats are up for election on Nov. 2, 2021, in three state legislative chambers: the New Jersey State Senate and General Assembly and the Virginia House of Delegates.
Two of the three chambers holding elections this year saw decade-high numbers of incumbents lose in primaries: the New Jersey General Assembly (3) and the Virginia House of Delegates (5). Incumbents have won every contested primary in the New Jersey State State Senate since 2003.
Among these three chambers, the eight incumbents defeated also marks a decade-high. Ahead of the general elections, the 2021 cycle is already tied for the second-most incumbents defeated among these chambers over the preceding decade.
The five Democratic incumbents who lost in primaries represent 4.0% of all Democratic incumbents who filed for re-election and 21.7% of all Democratic incumbents who faced contested primaries.
The three Republican incumbents who lost represent 3.8% of all Republicans who filed for re-election and 17.6% of those who faced contested primaries.