Looking back on two days ago

Welcome to the Thursday, August 18, Brew. 

By: Samuel Wonacott

Here’s what’s in store for you as you start your day:

  1. 4.8% of state legislative incumbents who filed for re-election have lost in primaries this year
  2. Results from battleground elections in Alaska, Wyoming
  3. Signatures submitted for education scholarship tax credit initiative in Michigan

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

On Aug. 16, Alaska and Wyoming held statewide primaries. A little later on, we’ll walk you through the biggest elections in those two states. But first, let’s begin with an update on a statistic we’ve been tracking since the primary season started—the percentage of state legislative incumbents who’ve lost re-election bids. 

Overall, 4.8% of incumbents running for re-election this year have lost to primary challengers. To put it another way, a total of 198 state legislative incumbents—54 Democrats and 144 Republicans—have lost across the 41 states that have held primaries. As you can see in the chart below, incumbent losses are higher than they have been in recent 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 Hawaii in 2020, two Democratic incumbents lost in primaries. No Republican incumbents were defeated in primaries. 
  • In Wyoming, nine Republicans lost. No Democratic incumbents faced contested primaries. In 2020, six Republican incumbents lost in primaries. No Democratic incumbents were defeated in primaries. 
  • In Alaska, no incumbents faced contested primaries. In 2020, eight Republican incumbents were defeated in primaries. No Democratic incumbents were defeated in 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.

The figures for 2022 will likely increase. There are currently seven uncalled primaries featuring incumbents: two Democratic and five Republican. Moreover, six states have yet to hold statewide primaries—Florida (Aug. 23), Massachusetts (Sept. 6), Delaware (Sept. 13), New Hampshire (Sept. 13), Rhode Island (Sept. 13), and Louisiana (Nov. 8). 

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Results from battleground elections in Alaska, Wyoming 

Voters in Alaska and Wyoming went to the polls Tuesday to decide a raft of state and congressional primaries. Now that the dust is settling, we’re going to take a look at what happened in the battleground races and what you can expect to happen going forward.

Let’s start with a roundup of preliminary results from Alaska.


As a reminder, Alaska holds nonpartisan, top-four primaries for state executive offices, state legislative districts, and congressional races. All candidates run in a single primary, and the top four vote-getters, regardless of partisan affiliation. The four candidates who receive the most votes advance to the general election, where the winner is decided using ranked-choice voting. You can read more about this system, which voters approved in 2020, by clicking here.

According to the Alaska Division of Elections, final results for some of these elections may not be available until Aug. 31, when all eligible ballots are reviewed and counted. 

U.S. Senate

Nineteen candidates ran in the top-four Senate primary, including Incumbent Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R). As of Aug. 17, with 69% of precincts reporting, Murkowski led with 43.7% of the vote, followed by Kelly Tshibaka (R) with 40.4%. Patricia Chesbro (D) had 6.2% of the vote and Buzz Kelley (R) had 2.2%. U.S. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R) endorsed Murkowski, one of seven Republican senators who voted to convict former President Donald Trump (R) for insurrection. Trump endorsed Tshibaka.  

At-Large Congressional District

Alaska held two elections on Aug. 16 for the state’s at-large U.S. House district—a regularly scheduled primary and a special general election. Former Rep. Don Young (R) died in March 2022, prompting a special top-four June 11 primary to fill out the remainder of his term. 

Twenty-two candidates ran in the regular primary ballot—nine undeclared or nonpartisan candidates, nine Republicans, one Democrat, and three minor party candidates. As of Aug. 17, with 69% of precincts reporting, Mary Peltola (D) led with 35.1% of the vote, followed by Sarah Palin (R), with 31.4%, and Nick Begich (R), with 26.9%. Tara Sweeney (R) was in fourth place with 3.6% of the vote. 

Fifteen of the candidates also ran in the special primary election to fill the remainder of Young’s term. Begich, Palin, and Peltola advanced from the June 11 special primary. Al Gross (I) also advanced but withdrew from the race. The general election on Aug. 16 used ranked-choice voting. As of Aug. 17, preliminary results from the first round of voting showed Peltola in the lead with 37.7% of the vote. Palin followed with 32.1%, while Nick Begich had 28.6%. A candidate has to win at least 50% of the vote to win the election. If no candidate wins a simple majority of votes cast, the candidate with the fewest votes is eliminated from the running until a candidate receives a simple majority. 


Eleven candidates ran in a top-four primary for governor, including Gov. Mike Dunleavy (R). The 11 candidates included six Republicans, one Democrat, one Libertarian, and three independents. As of Aug. 17, Dunleavy led with 41.9% of the vote. Les Gara (D) had 22%, Bill Walker (Independent) had 21.9%, and Charlie Pierce (R) had 6.9%. The four-candidate general election will use ranked-choice voting.


In Wyoming’s sole congressional district, incumbent U.S. Rep. Liz Cheney (R) became the 13th congressional incumbent to lose a primary this cycle. 

Five candidates, including Cheney, ran in the Republican primary. Harriet Hageman defeated Cheney and the three other candidates, winning 66.3% of the vote. Cheney received 28.9% of the vote. The primary was widely seen as a test of Trump’s influence in the Republican Party. Cheney voted to impeach Trump on Jan. 13, 2021, for incitement of insurrection in the breach of the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6. She also voted to support the Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the United States Capitol. Former President George W. Bush (R), U.S. Sen. Mitt Romney (R), and U.S. Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R) endorsed Cheney. Trump endorsed Hageman, an attorney and legal consultant who founded the Wyoming Conservation Alliance.

Cheney is one of 13 U.S. House incumbents—four Democrats and nine Republicans—defeated in primaries this year. In 2020, eight U.S. House incumbents were defeated in primaries, including three Democrats and five Republicans.   

Click here to read more about Alaska’s elections, and click here to read more about Wyoming’s. Click the link below to see our full 2022 election hub.

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Signatures submitted for education scholarship tax credit initiative in Michigan

The Let MI Kids Learn campaign submitted signatures on Aug. 10 for a tax credit educational scholarship program in Michigan. The Let MI Kids Learn campaign submitted 520,598 signatures to the Michigan Bureau of Elections. To place an initiative on the ballot in Michigan, 340,047 valid signatures are required. However, the deadline for submitting signatures to qualify for the November 2022 ballot was on June 1, so the initiative would qualify for the 2024 general election if the legislature does not approve it first.

The initiative would create an income tax credit for donors and organizations that contribute to an education scholarship fund. The Let MI Kids Learn campaign is also supporting a companion initiative, which would create the Student Opportunity Scholarship fund. Students who meet the income or disability requirements could use the scholarships for tuition, textbooks, school uniforms, and other educational expenses—including for nonpublic education. 

The Let MI Kids Learn campaign did not submit signatures yet for this companion initiative, but a spokesperson of the Let MI Kids Learn campaign, Amy Hawkins, said the signatures for the companion initiative are coming soon.

“After school shutdowns and COVID learning loss, families are desperate for the change that this proposal brings to Michigan education,” said Fred Wszolek, a spokesperson for the Let MI Kids Learn campaign. “Michigan families will soon have more educational choices for their children than anywhere in America, and that’s good news for the future of our state.”

A spokesperson for the For MI Kids, For Our Schools campaign, which is leading the opposition to this measure, said that this initiative would take funding away from public schools. 

“Our local schools are struggling with an educator shortage and a lack of mental health resources for our kids,” said Casandra Ulbrich, “This voucher proposal will only make the situation worse by taking away hundreds of millions of dollars every year from our local schools and giving the funding to for-profit private schools that are unaccountable to taxpayers.”

Out of the 21 states that allow initiated state statutes, nine states, including Michigan, use an indirect process for initiated statutes. This means that after a campaign submits signatures and has the signatures verified, the initiative goes to the state legislature for approval. Click here to read more about indirect initiatives. 

Click below to read more about this Michigan initiative. 

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