Previewing U.S. House general elections

Elections to the United States House of Representatives will take place on November 8, 2022. The seats of all 435 representatives are up for election this year, along with the seats of five of the six non-voting members of the U.S. House.

Democrats maintained their majority in the in the 2020 elections, winning 222 seats to Republicans’ 213. As of July 6, Democrats hold a 220-210 majority with five vacant seats. Republicans need to gain a net of eight seats to win a majority in the chamber.

There are 53 open U.S. House seats in states where the filing deadline has passed. 

Forty-nine representatives—31 Democrats and 18 Republicans—are not seeking re-election to their U.S. House seats (not including those who left office early). Thirty-six members did not seek re-election in 2020. 

The total number of incumbents not running for re-election is the second-highest this decade. The highest was in 2018, when 52 incumbents didn’t seek re-election. The number of Democratic incumbents not running for re-election this year is a decade-high. 

Of the members not seeking re-election: 

  • Thirty-two—22 Democrats and 10 Republicans—are retiring from public office.
  • Nine—four Democrats and five Republicans—are running for the U.S. Senate.
  • Four—three Democrats and one Republican—are running for governor. 
  • Four—two Democrats and two Republicans—are running for another office.

As of July 6, 2022, 37 districts are rated as Toss-ups by the Cook Political Report, Inside Elections, Sabato’s Crystal Ball. Democrats hold 27 of those seats, Republicans hold eight, and two seats are vacant.

The 2022 election will be the first to take place following apportionment and redistricting after the 2020 census. Seven states (California, Illinois, Michigan, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia) lost one seat each. Five states (Colorado, Florida, Montana, North Carolina, and Oregon) gained one seat each, and Texas gained two seats.

The newly-created seats are:

  • Colorado’s 8th Congressional District
  • Florida’s 28th Congressional District
  • Montana’s 2nd Congressional District
  • Oregon’s 6th Congressional District
  • Texas’ 37th Congressional District
  • Texas’ 38th Congressional District

As a result of redistricting, there are eight districts where two incumbents filed to run against each other. In six of those, two incumbents from the same party filed to run against each other in their party primary: 

  • West Virginia’s 2nd District — Rep. David McKinley (R), the incumbent in the 1st district, and Rep. Alex Mooney (R), the incumbent in the 2nd district, ran in the Republican primary on May 10, 2022. Mooney defeated McKinley. 
  • Georgia’s 7th District — Rep. Lucy McBath (D), the incumbent in the 6th district, and Rep. Carolyn Bourdeaux (D), the incumbent in the 7th, ran in the Democratic primary on May 24. McBath defeated Bourdeaux. 
  • Illinois’ 6th District — Rep. Marie Newman (D), the incumbent in the 3rd district, and Rep. Sean Casten (D), the incumbent in the 6th, ran in the Democratic primary on June 28. Casten defeated Newman. 
  • Illinois’ 15th District — Rep. Rodney Davis (R), the incumbent in the 13th district, and Rep. Mary Miller (R), the incumbent in the 15th, ran in the Republican primary on June 28. Miller defeated Davis. 
  • Michigan’s 11th District — Rep. Andy Levin (D), the incumbent in the 9th district, and Rep. Haley Stevens (D), the incumbent in the 11th, are running in the Democratic primary set to take place on August 2. 
  • New York’s 12th District — Rep. Jerry Nadler, the incumbent in the 10th district, and Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D), the incumbent in the 12th, are running in the Democratic primary set to take place on August 23.

In the other two districts, incumbents from different parties are running against each other in the general election in November: 

  • Florida’s 2nd District — Rep. Al Lawson (D), the incumbent in the 5th district, and Rep. Neal Dunn (R), the incumbent in the 2nd, are both running.
  • Texas’ 34th District — Rep. Vicente Gonzalez Jr. (D), the incumbent in the 15th district, and Rep. Mayra Flores (R), the incumbent in the 34th, are running against each other in the general election. Flores won a special election to replace Rep. Filemon Vela (D) on June 14 and was sworn in on June 21.

Nine incumbents  — three Democrats and six Republicans  — have lost in primaries so far this year: 

  • Carolyn Bourdeaux (D) — Georgia’s 7th
  • Marie Newman (D)  — Illinois’ 6th
  • Rodney Davis (R) — Illinois’ 15th
  • Steven Palazzo (R) — Mississippi’s 4th
  • Madison Cawthorn (R) — North Carolina’s 11th
  • Bob Gibbs (R) — Ohio’s 7th
  • Kurt Schrader (D) — Oregon’s 5th
  • Tom Rice (R) — South Carolina’s 7th
  • David McKinley (R) — West Virginia’s 2nd

The nine incumbents who have been defeated in primaries so far this year are already more than the eight incumbents who lost in primary elections in 2020.

Jake Ellzey wins special runoff for Texas’ 6th Congressional District

Jake Ellzey (R) defeated Susan Wright (R) in a special runoff election in Texas’ 6th Congressional District. With 98% of precincts reporting, Ellzey received 53% of the vote and Wright received 47% of the vote.

Ellzey will fill the vacancy left when the previous incumbent, Ronald Wright (R), died from COVID-19 related complications on Feb. 7. The district is located in the northeastern portion of the state and includes Ellis and Navarro counties and an area of Tarrant County.

Susan Wright is Ronald Wright’s widow. Former President Donald Trump (R) endorsed her on April 26. Former Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R) endorsed Ellzey.

Since both runoff candidates were Republicans, the seat will not change party hands as a result of the election. The two advanced from a 23-candidate special election on May 1. Wright received 19.2% of the vote while Ellzey received 13.8% of the vote.

Seven special elections have been called during the 117th Congress. Four of those have already taken place and none have resulted in a party change. From the 113th Congress to the 116th Congress, 50 special elections were held.

Special elections to be held on July 13 in two Alabama state legislative districts

Special elections are scheduled for July 13 for District 14 of the Alabama State Senate and District 73 of the Alabama House of Representatives. The winners of the special elections will serve until Nov. 7, 2022.

  • In Senate District 14, Virginia Applebaum (D) and April Weaver (R) are running in the special election. The seat became vacant on Dec. 7 after Cam Ward (R) was appointed to serve as director of the Alabama Bureau of Pardons and Paroles by Gov. Kay Ivey (R). Ward had represented the seat since 2010.
  • In House District 73, Sheridan Black (R) is facing off against Kenneth Paschal (R). The special election became necessary after Matt Fridy (R) was elected to the Alabama Court of Civil Appeals in Nov. 2020. Fridy had represented District 73 since 2015.

Alabama has a Republican state government trifecta. A trifecta exists when one political party simultaneously holds the governor’s office and majorities in both state legislative chambers. Republicans control the state Senate by a 26-8 margin with one vacancy and the state House by a 76-27 margin with two vacancies.

As of July, 40 state legislative special elections have been scheduled for 2021 in 17 states. Between 2011 and 2020, an average of 75 special elections took place each year. Alabama held 23 state legislative special elections from 2011 to 2020.

Additional reading:

Virginia gubernatorial candidates seek to define themselves, one another as the general election begins

Campaigns for Terry McAuliffe (D) and Glenn Youngkin (R) in the election for Governor of Virginia released new adsshortly after the major-party nominating contests came to a close in recent weeks.

Following Youngkin’s nomination on May 10, former Gov. McAuliffe released an ad titled “Virginia Forward” where he compared Youngkin to former President Donald Trump (R), saying, “Youngkin wants to bring Trump’s extremism to Virginia.” McAuliffe went on to say he would defend policies from his administration including the expansion of Medicaid, protections for reproductive rights, and the expansion of voting rights.

After McAuliffe won the Democratic primary on June 8, Youngkin released an ad titled “Time For Change” featuring one of McAuliffe’s Democratic primary opponents, former Del. Jennifer Carroll Foy, criticizing the former governor’s tenure. At the end of the ad, Youngkin described himself as “a new kind of leader to bring a new day to Virginia.” A second ad—”A New Day”—reiterated this theme with Youngkin saying he would create jobs, improve education, and make communities more safe.

Two satellite groups—the Democratic Governors Association (DGA) and the Republican Party of Virginia (RPV)—also released ads following the nomination contests. The DGA associated Youngkin with Trump and said his main priority was, “telling the same Big Lie Trump tells about the last election and trying to restrict your right to vote in the next.” The RPV’s ad used a speech given by McAuliffe interspersed with a series of news clips from the previous eight years on topics including rates of violent crime, changes to public school curricula, and a transportation company’s decision to move out of Virginia.

A recent poll of 550 likely voters shows a close race. The poll, commissioned by CNanalytics and conducted by JMC Analytics, showed McAuliffe receiving support from 46% of respondents to Youngkin’s 42%, a difference within the poll’s ± 4.2 margin of error. The remaining 12% of the respondents were either undecided or did not respond. No third party candidates were included in the poll, though at least one candidate, Princess Blanding (I), will also appear on the general election ballot.

Every four years, the Virginia gubernatorial election is one of the first major statewide elections following the presidential election. Since 1977, the state has elected a governor from the opposite party of the president in every election except for 2013 when McAuliffe was elected governor following Barack Obama’s (D) re-election. In more recent years, Democrats have won four of the five most recent gubernatorial elections and all thirteen statewide elections in Virginia since 2012.

The gubernatorial election will determine Virginia’s trifecta status. Virginia became a Democratic trifecta in 2019 for the first time since 1994 after Democrats won majorities in the House of Delegates and the state Senate. A McAuliffe victory could continue the Democratic trifecta if Democrats also retain a majority in the House of Delegates. A Youngkin victory would make Virginia a divided government since the Democrat-controlled Senate is not holding elections this year.

Learn more about the Virginia gubernatorial election here.

Absentee/mail-in ballot rejection rates decreased in at least 20 states between the 2016 and 2020 presidential elections

Ballotpedia’s analysis of 2020 election data shows that at least twenty states rejected a lower percentage of absentee/mail-in ballots during the 2020 presidential election than they did in 2016. At least seven states rejected a greater percentage and four states’ rejected the same percentage. Nineteen states have not yet released data making a comparison possible and were not included in this analysis.

The number of absentee/mail-in ballots cast in the 31 states shown above increased 109% from 24.4 million in 2016 to 50.9 million in 2020. The number of rejected ballots also increased from 222,096 in 2016 to 364,242 in 2020, a 64% increase. 

While the number of absentee/mail-in ballots cast and rejected were both higher in 2020 than in 2016, the rejection rate across these 31 states decreased by 0.2 percentage points from 0.9% in 2016 to 0.7% in 2020.

Nationwide, voters cast just under 33.4 million absentee mail/in ballots in 2016 with a rejection rate of 1.0%. In 2020, voters cast an estimated 65.6 million.

The table below shows the 2020 rejection rates Ballotpedia has gathered so far. Vermont is included with its 2020 rejection rate but excluded from other analyses due to the lack of 2016 data.

Data from 2016 was gathered from the U.S. Election Assistance Commission’s (EAC) 2016 Election Administration Voting Survey, a biannual state-by-state analysis of elections’ administration mandated by the 2002 Help America Vote Act. Ballotpedia gathered information on 2020 rejection rates using news sources, publicly available election statistics, and direct outreach to state election officials.

To view more analyses of rejected absentee/mail-in ballots and to learn more about how Ballotpedia gathered this preliminary data, click here: https://ballotpedia.org/Election_results,_2020:_Analysis_of_rejected_ballots

Spring elections held in Wisconsin

The statewide nonpartisan general election for Wisconsin was held on April 6. The primary was held on February 16, and the filing deadline to run passed on January 5. Candidates ran in elections for special elections in the Wisconsin State Legislature, three judgeships on the Wisconsin Court of Appeals, and in municipal and school board elections.

Wisconsin State Legislature

• State Senate District 13: John Jagler (R) defeated four candidates to win the special election, winning 51.2% of the total (37,385) reported votes. The seat became vacant after incumbent officeholder Scott Fitzgerald (R) was elected to the U.S. House to represent Wisconsin’s 5th Congressional District on Nov. 3. Fitzgerald vacated his seat on Jan. 1.

• State Assembly District 89: Elijah Behnke (R) defeated challenger Karl Jaeger (D) to win the special election. Behnke received 60.3% of the total (8,413) votes, while Jaeger received 39.7% of the votes. The seat became vacant on Dec. 2, after John Nygren (R) resigned his seat to work in the private sector.

Wisconsin Court of Appeals

• In District 1, Judge Maxine A. White won re-election unopposed.

• In District 2, Judge Jeffrey Davis was defeated by challenger Shelley Grogan.

• In District 3, newcomer Greg Gill Jr. defeated Rick Cveykus.

Ballotpedia also covered local elections in the following areas:

• Dane County and Milwaukee County

• The cities of Madison and Milwaukee

• DeForest Area School District

• Madison Metropolitan School District

• McFarland School District

• Middleton-Cross Plains School District

• Milwaukee Public Schools

• Sun Prairie Area School District

• Verona Area School District

Additional Reading:

Early voting begins for Louisiana’s 2nd Congressional District

Image of several stickers with the words "I voted"

Early voting begins March 6 and is open until March 13 for Louisiana’s 2021 elections, including a special election in Louisiana’s 2nd Congressional District. The election takes place on March 20. Fifteen candidates are running to fill the seat left vacant when then President-elect Joe Biden (D) picked Cedric Richmond (D), who represented the district since 2011, to serve as a senior adviser to the president and director of the White House Office of Public Engagement.

Louisiana elections use the majority vote system in which all candidates compete in the same primary. A candidate can win the election outright by receiving more than 50% of the vote. If no candidate wins more than 50%, the top two vote recipients from the primary advance to the general election, no matter their partisan affiliation. If necessary, a runoff election will be held on April 24, 2021.

There are eight Democrats, four Republicans, two Independents, and one Libertarian running for the seat. Out of this field of candidates, media attention has largely focused on Troy Carter (D), Karen Peterson (D), and Gary Chambers (D). Carter represents Louisiana State Senate District 7 and Peterson represents Louisiana State Senate District 5. Chambers is an activist and publisher from Baton Rouge.

Both Carter and Peterson emphasized their experience and careers as lawmakers. “Throughout my career I’ve remained laser focused on the simple ways to improve people’s day to day lives – like guaranteeing access to COVID-19 19 vaccine, equality pay for women, criminal justice reform and fighting for a living wage,” said Carter.

Peterson said “After Katrina hit, I told the truth, held people accountable, and fought to help our families and our businesses rebuild. And that’s what I’ll do in Congress to lead us out of this pandemic.”

Chambers, who has never run for public office, said district lawmakers have focused too heavily on New Orleans and that people in the district “want a leader that’s concerned about all people, not just a select demographic of the district.”

Democrats have represented Louisiana’s 2nd Congressional District since 2000, except between 2009 and 2011, when Anh “Joseph” Cao (R) held the seat. The 2020 Cook Partisan Voter Index for Louisiana’s 2nd district was D+25, meaning that in the previous two presidential elections, this district’s results were 25 percentage points more Democratic than the national average.

A special election will also take place on March 20 in Louisiana’s 5th Congressional District.

Additional Reading:

Voters in Texas House district to decide special election runoff on Feb. 23

A special general runoff election is being held on February 23 for District 68 of the Texas House of Representatives. Craig Carter (R) is facing David Spiller (R) in the runoff. Carter and Spiller advanced from the general election on January 23, earning 18% of the vote and 44% of the vote, respectively. Governor Greg Abbott issued a proclamation on February 4 to schedule the runoff.

The seat became vacant after Drew Springer (R) won a special election for Texas State Senate District 30 on December 19, 2020. Springer was elected to the state House in 2012. He won re-election in November 2020 with 85.5% of the vote.

Heading into the special election, Republicans have an 82-67 majority in the Texas House. Texas has a Republican state government trifecta. A trifecta exists when one political party simultaneously holds the governor’s office and majorities in both state legislative chambers.

As of February, 26 state legislative special elections have been scheduled for 2021 in 16 states. Between 2011 and 2020, an average of 75 special elections took place each year.

Additional Reading:

Filing deadline passed Feb. 11 for special election in California Assembly district

Candidates interested in running in the special election for California State Assembly District 79 had until February 11, 2021, to file. The primary election is scheduled for April 6, and the general election is scheduled for June 8.

The special election was called after Shirley Weber (D) left office due to her appointment as California Secretary of State by Gov. Gavin Newson (D). The previous secretary of state—Alex Padilla (D)—resigned following his appointment to the United States Senate. Newsom formally appointed Weber to the office on January 18, and the California legislature unanimously confirmed Weber as the first Black person to hold this position on January 28. Weber served in the state assembly from 2012 until she was sworn in as secretary of state on January 29.

As of February 2021, 26 state legislative special elections have been scheduled for 2021 in 16 states. Between 2011 and 2019, an average of 77 special elections took place each year.

Additional Reading:

Voter registration deadline for Rhode Island bond election is January 31

The voter registration deadline for the Rhode Island bond election to be held on March 2 is January 31. The deadline to apply for a mail ballot is February 9.

The Rhode Island legislature referred seven bond questions totaling $400 million to the ballot as part of the state budget approved in December. The ballot titles, amounts, and purposes are listed below:

Question 1: Issues $107.3 million in bonds for the University of Rhode Island Fine Arts Center, the Rhode Island College Clarke Science Building, and the Community College of Rhode Island

Question 2: Issues $74 million in bonds for state beaches, parks, recreational facilities, and water projects

Question 3: Issues $65 million in bonds for building and renovating public housing projects

Question 4: Issues $71.7 million in bonds for transportation infrastructure

Question 5: Issues $15 million in bonds for the Early Childhood Care and Education Capital Fund

Question 6: Issues $7 million in bonds for the Cultural Arts and the Economy Grant Program and the State Preservation Grants Program

Question 7: Issues $60 million in bonds to fund improvements to industrial facilities infrastructure

To put a legislatively referred bond question before voters, a simple majority vote is required in both the Rhode Island State Senate and the Rhode Island House of Representatives. Between 2008 and 2020, voters in Rhode Island had decided 22 bond measures, totaling $1.3 billion in principal value. Voters approved 100 percent of the bond measures, with support ranging from 55.23 percent (Question 2 of 2010) to 83.89 percent (Question 3 of 2016). The last odd-year bond election in Rhode Island was in 1985 where nine bond measures were approved.

Voters can register online, by mailing in a voter registration form, or in person at the local board of canvassers, the board of elections, or other state agencies such as the Department of Motor Vehicles, the Department of Human Services, and the Department of Mental Health.