4.5% of state legislative incumbents who filed for re-election have lost in primaries

So far this year, 61 state legislative incumbents—13 Democrats and 48 Republicans—have lost to primary challengers.

Across the 12 states that have held primaries, 4.5% of incumbents running for re-election have lost. This is both the largest number and highest incumbent loss rate in these 12 states since 2014.

In addition to earlier primaries, these totals include preliminary results from primaries held in Alabama, Arkansas, and Georgia, as well as primary runoffs in Texas, on May 24. So far, four incumbents have lost, one in each of those four states, all of whom are Republicans.

So far this year, Republican incumbents have lost at a higher rate than Democrats. Of the 869 Republican incumbents who filed for re-election, 48 (5.5%) have lost to primary challengers. For Democrats, 13 of the 474 who filed for re-election (2.7%) have lost.

However, fewer Democrat incumbents are facing primary challengers than their Republican counterparts. Around 21% of the Democratic incumbents faced contested primaries compared to 35% for Republicans.

Overall, in those 12 states, 1,343 incumbents filed for re-election, 406 of whom (30%) faced primary challengers

Seventeen of the incumbents who lost primaries so far were due to redistricting. When states redraw legislative lines, incumbents can oftentimes end up in a new district with other incumbents leading to incumbent v. incumbent primaries or general elections. In these races, there are more incumbents than nominations or seats available, guaranteeing that at least one incumbent must lose.

Of the 12 states that have held primaries so far, one had a Democratic trifecta, eight had Republican trifectas, and three had divided governments with Democrats controlling the governorship and Republicans controlling both legislative chambers. Across these 12 states, there are 1,655 seats up for election, 11% of the nationwide total.

The figures for 2022 will likely increase. There are currently 64 primaries featuring incumbents—19 Democrats and 45 Republicans—that remain uncalled.

You can view a full list of defeated incumbents and defeat totals from previous years by clicking “Learn More” below.