Tagprimaries

Share of incumbents defeated in contested primaries grows for third even-year cycle in a row

Ballotpedia’s annual state legislative competitiveness study shows that for the third even-year election cycle in a row, the share of incumbents defeated in contested primaries has grown. In the 44 states that held state legislative elections this year, 153 incumbents—61 Democrats and 93 Republicans—were defeated by primary challengers.

Overall, 15.2% of the 1,016 major-party incumbents who faced primary challengers in 2020 lost, the third consecutive increase compared to 2018 (13.8%) and 2016 (12.3%). The loss rate in 2020 also exceeded that of 13.0% in 2014.

Highlights:

  1. 18% of Republicans who faced challenges in 2020 were defeated—the highest since at least 2014.
  2. 12% of Democrats who faced challenges were defeated, lower than the 14% rate in 2018.
  3. More Democrats were defeated in states with Democratic trifectas, as was the case for Republicans in Republican trifectas.
  4. The loss rate for incumbents in states with divided governments exceeds the national average altogether and by party.
  5. Democratic incumbents were defeated at the highest rate in states with Democratic trifectas and at the lowest in those with Republican trifectas. In states with divided governments, the rate exceeded the national average for Democrats.
  6. Republican incumbents facing contested primaries were more likely to be defeated in states with divided governments than in states with trifectas.

To read more about the state legislative incumbents defeated in primaries this year, click here: https://ballotpedia.org/Incuhttps://www.pexels.com/photo/stickers-with-i-voted-inscription-and-flag-of-usa-1550339/mbents_defeated_in_2020%27s_state_legislative_elections



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