4.8% of state legislative incumbents who filed for re-election have lost in primaries

So far this year, 198 state legislative incumbents—54 Democrats and 144 Republicans—have lost to primary challengers.

Across the 41 states that have held primaries, 4.8% of incumbents running for re-election have lost, an elevated level of incumbent losses compared to previous cycles.

These totals include data from Hawaii, which held primaries on Aug. 13, as well as Alaska and Wyoming, which held primaries on Aug. 16.

  • In Hawaii,five Democrats lost. No Republican incumbents faced contested primaries.
  • In Wyoming, nine Republicans lost. No Democratic incumbents faced contested primaries.
  • In Alaska, no incumbents faced contested primaries.

There is one uncalled race in Wyoming featuring a Republican incumbent.

This year, Republican incumbents have lost at a higher rate than Democrats. Of the 2,264 Republican incumbents who filed for re-election, 144 (6.4%) have lost to primary challengers. For Democrats, 54 of the 1,832 who filed for re-election (2.9%) have lost.

Forty-four of these 198 incumbent defeats (22%) were guaranteed 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. Since, in these races, there are more incumbents running than nominations or seats available, at least one incumbent must lose.

Of the 41 states that have held primaries so far, 11 have Democratic trifectas, 20 have Republican trifectas, and 10 have divided governments. Across these 41 states, there are 5,319 seats up for election, 85% of the nationwide total.

The figures for 2022 will likely increase. There are currently seven uncalled primaries featuring incumbents: two Democratic and five Republican.

You can view more information about state-specific and historic information regarding incumbent defeats by clicking “Learn More” below.