TagRedistricting

Primary watch: number of contested state legislative primaries is up 23% compared to 2020

There are 23% more contested state legislative primaries this year than in 2020, including 53% more Republican primaries and 8% more top-two/four primaries. Democratic primaries are down 10%.

These figures include elections in 39 states that account for 5,011 of 6,166 state legislative seats up for election this year (81%).

A primary is contested when there are more candidates running than available nominations, meaning at least one candidate must lose.

Since our last update on Aug. 1, we have added post-filing deadline data from Florida and Vermont. Overall, 11 states in this analysis have Democratic trifectas, 20 have Republican trifectas, and eight have divided governments.

Of the 39 states in this analysis, 36 are holding partisan primaries. Three states—California, Nebraska, and Washington—use top-two primaries.

The number of Democratic primaries has increased in 11 states, decreased in 21, and remains the same in three. The number of Republican primaries has increased in 31 states, decreased in four, and is unchanged in one. The table below shows partisan statistics for the three states with the largest increases and decreases so far.

In addition to a state’s political makeup and party activity, redistricting is another reason for an increase in primary competitiveness.

After redistricting, some states—like Arkansas—hold elections for every district, while in other years, fewer districts are up each cycle. This creates more opportunities for primaries to occur. Or, like in West Virginia, redistricting creates new districts and, by extension, more primary opportunities. Currently, the total number of possible primaries affected by these changes is up 3.0% compared to 2020.

For states like New Mexico and South Carolina, where only one chamber is up for election every two years, only those chambers holding elections in 2022 that also held elections in 2020 are included.

Ballotpedia will continue to update these figures as information becomes available. In addition to this analysis, Ballotpedia collects competitiveness statistics at all levels of government, available here. This data is calculated following candidate filing deadlines and readjusted at the time of the primary to account for any changes to candidate lists.



Newcomers will represent at least 32% of Vermont’s state legislative seats next year

Fifty-seven state legislative seats up for election in Vermont this year are open, meaning no incumbents filed to run. This represents 32% of the state’s legislature, a marked increase compared to recent election cycles.

Since no incumbents are present, newcomers are guaranteed to win all open seats.

Vermont restructured its House and Senate during the state’s redistricting process. Previously, the state had 117 state legislative districts containing 180 seats. After redistricting, there are 125 districts, still containing 180 seats.

While the number of open seats increased this year, other competitiveness metrics—like the number of contested primaries—decreased compared to the 2020 election cycle.

Across all districts, there are 24 contested primaries, representing 10% of all possible primaries.

A contested primary is one where there are more candidates running than nominations available, meaning at least one candidate must lose.

There are 17 Democratic primaries, a 23% decrease from 2020. Republicans are holding seven contested primaries, the same number as in 2020.

Overall, 276 major party candidates filed to run for the state’s 150 House and 30 Senate seats this year: 174 Democrats and 102 Republicans.

Vermont has had a divided government since Republicans won the governorship in 2016. Democrats hold a 91-46 majority in the House, with 12 other seats held by minor party or independent officeholders and one vacancy. The party holds a 21-7 majority in the Senate, with two seats held by minor party officeholders.

Vermont’s state legislative primaries are scheduled for Aug. 9, the 12th statewide primary date of the 2022 state legislative election cycle.

Additional reading:

Vermont House of Representatives elections, 2022

Vermont State Senate elections, 2022



4.7% of state legislative incumbents who filed for re-election have lost in primaries

So far this year, 156 state legislative incumbents—39 Democrats and 117 Republicans—have lost to primary challengers.

Across the 33 states that have held primaries, 4.7% of incumbents running for re-election have lost, an elevated level of incumbent losses compared to previous cycles.

These totals include data from Arizona, Kansas, Michigan, Missouri, Ohio, and Washington, which held state legislative primaries on Aug. 2. No incumbents have lost, so far, in Arizona, Michigan, and Washington, though races featuring incumbents remain uncalled. For the remaining states:

  • Kansas: one Democrat and three Republicans lost;
  • Ohio: one Democrat and two Republicans lost; and,
  • Missouri: four Democrats and two Republicans lost.

This year, Republican incumbents have lost at a higher rate than Democrats. Of the 1,901 Republican incumbents who filed for re-election, 117 (6.2%) have lost to primary challengers. For Democrats, 39 of the 1,432 who filed for re-election (2.7%) have lost.

Thirty-four of these 156 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 33 states that have held primaries so far, nine have Democratic trifectas, 18 have Republican trifectas, and six have divided governments. Across these 33 states, there are 4,306 seats up for election, 70% of the nationwide total.

The figures for 2022 will likely increase. There are currently 87 uncalled primaries featuring incumbents: 24 Democratic, 33 Republican, and 30 top-two.

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



Sean Maloney and Alessandra Biaggi running in New York’s 17th Congressional District Democratic primary

Sean Maloney and Alessandra Biaggi are running in the Democratic Party primary for New York’s 17th Congressional District on Aug. 23, 2022. Mondaire Jones (D) has represented the 17th Congressional District since 2021 but is running in New York’s 10th Congressional District this election cycle.

Maloney has represented New York’s 18th Congressional District since 2013 and has served as the chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee since 2020. Maloney was a candidate for New York’s attorney general in 2018, but lost to Letitia James in the Democratic primary. Maloney also served as a senior advisor to President Bill Clinton (D) and first deputy secretary in former Gov. Eliot Spitzer’s (D) administration. Maloney said he is “focused on getting results for my neighbors in the Hudson Valley – despite gridlock and dysfunction in Washington.”

Biaggi has represented District 34 in the New York State Senate since 2019. Biaggi also served as lead counsel to the NYS Council for Women and Girls, as the deputy national operations director for Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign, as the assistant general counsel for the Office of Storm Recovery, and as a legal fellow for New York State Homes and Community Renewal. Biaggi said she is running for Congress “to protect and defend our democracy, to halt the climate crisis, to grow our supply of affordable housing, and to transform our government and economy to serve us all.”

The 17th Congressional District’s boundaries shifted as a result of redistricting. According to data from The New York Times, President Joe Biden (D) received 60% of the vote in the old district, but would have received 55% of the vote in the new district. The New York Times‘ Nicholas Fandos said congressional redistricting in the state “erased outright gains that Democrats had counted on based on the Legislature’s map and made other Democratic swing seats more competitive.”

According to Axios‘ Andrew Solender, “Maloney stoked anger from the left by running in a redrawn district mostly represented by Rep. Mondaire Jones (D-N.Y.), a progressive freshman who is now running for an open seat in New York City miles away from his home turf. Biaggi, who had been running in an open district that was similarly upended by redistricting, then opted to run against Maloney.”

Biaggi said Maloney was “a selfish corporate Democrat” and that “having the head of the campaign arm not stay in his district, not maximize the number of seats New York can have to hold the majority” was hurtful to the party. Maloney said, “From my point of view, I’m just running from where I landed. If someone else is looking at the district, as well, obviously we will try to work through that as colleagues and friends.”

As of July 2022, The Cook Political Report and Larry J. Sabato’s Crystal Ball rated the district Lean Democratic, while Inside Elections with Nathan L. Gonzales rated it Likely Democratic. In the previous election, Jones defeated Maureen McArdle Schulman (R) 59% to 35%.



Ohio Supreme Court overturns state’s congressional district boundaries; map to still be used for 2022 elections

The Ohio Supreme Court ruled 4-3 on July 19, 2022, that the congressional district boundaries that the Ohio Redistricting Commission adopted on March 2 were unconstitutional. Since the state’s 2022 primary elections were held on May 3 using the overturned districts, this year’s congressional elections will take place using the existing boundaries.

The state supreme court directed the Ohio General Assembly to pass a compliant plan within 30 days. If the general assembly fails to do so, the court ordered the redistricting commission to then adopt a plan within 30 days. The state would use that map for its 2024 congressional elections.

Since the boundaries that the redistricting commission adopted in March 2022 did not receive support from any commission members of the minority party, it would have been in effect for only four years. Under the constitutional amendment establishing the redistricting commission that voters approved in 2018, the commission was required to enact a new map after the 2024 elections.

Justices Maureen O’Connor, Michael Donnelly, and Melody Stewart signed the state supreme court’s majority opinion with Justice Jennifer Brunner filing a concurring opinion. Justices Sharon Kennedy, Pat DeWine, and Pat Fischer wrote or joined dissenting opinions.

The court’s opinion said, “Petitioners have satisfied their burden by showing beyond a reasonable doubt that the March 2 plan unduly favors the Republican Party in violation of Article XIX, Section 1(C)(3)(a) of the Ohio Constitution. Comparative analyses and other metrics show that the March 2 plan allocates voters in ways that unnecessarily favor the Republican Party by packing Democratic voters into a few dense Democratic-leaning districts, thereby increasing the Republican vote share of the remaining districts. As a result, districts that would otherwise be strongly Democratic-leaning are now competitive or Republican-leaning districts.”

The dissenting opinion signed by Justices Kennedy and DeWine said, “We disagree, however, with the majority’s conclusion that the March 2 plan is invalid because it violates Article XIX, Section 1(C)(3)(a) of the Ohio constitution for ‘unduly favor[ing] or disfavor[ing] a political party or its incumbents.’…Therefore, we would hold that the March 2 plan is constitutional and order its use for the 2024 primary and general elections. Because the majority does otherwise, we dissent.”

Governor Mike DeWine (R) first signed a new congressional map into law on November 20, 2021, after the state Senate voted to approve it 24-7 and the state House approved it 55-36. On January 14, the Ohio Supreme Court struck down the state’s enacted congressional map and ordered the legislature to redraw it. The Ohio Redistricting Commission approved redrawn congressional boundaries in a 5-2 vote along party lines.

Additional reading:

Ohio Supreme Court

Mike DeWine

Redistricting in Ohio



Primary watch: number of contested state legislative primaries is up 26% compared to 2020

There are 26% more contested state legislative primaries this year than in 2020, including 56% more Republican primaries and 8% more top-two/four primaries. Democratic primaries are down 8%.

These figures include elections in 34 states that account for 4,289 of 6,166 state legislative seats up for election this year (70%).

A primary is contested when there are more candidates running than available nominations, meaning at least one candidate must lose.

Since our last update on July 5, we have added post-filing deadline data from Tennessee and Washington. Overall, nine states in this analysis have Democratic trifectas, 19 have Republican trifectas, and six have divided governments.

Of the 34 states in this analysis, 31 are holding partisan primaries. Three states—California, Nebraska, and Washington—use top-two primaries.

The number of Democratic primaries has increased in 11 states, decreased in 16, and remains the same in three. The number of Republican primaries has increased in 28 states and decreased in three. The table below shows partisan statistics for the three states with the largest increases and decreases so far.

In addition to a state’s political makeup and party activity, redistricting is another reason for an increase in primary competitiveness.

After redistricting, some states—like Arkansas—hold elections for every district, while in other years, fewer districts are up each cycle. This creates more opportunities for primaries to occur. Or, like in West Virginia, redistricting creates new districts and, by extension, more primary opportunities. Currently, the total number of possible primaries affected by these changes is up 1.3% compared to 2020.

For states like New Mexico and South Carolina, where only one chamber is up for election every two years, only those chambers holding elections in 2022 that also held elections in 2020 are included.

Ballotpedia will continue to update these figures as information becomes available. In addition to this analysis, Ballotpedia collects competitiveness statistics at all levels of government, available here. This data is calculated following candidate filing deadlines and readjusted at the time of the primary to account for any changes to candidate lists.



Missouri redistricting commission enacted new state House boundaries on January 19

The House Independent Bipartisan Citizens Commission unanimously approved new state House district boundaries on January 19. Fourteen of the commission’s 20 members were required to approve the plan. 

Two distinct politician commissions are responsible for state legislative redistricting in Missouri—one for the state Senate and another for the state House of Representatives. To form the House commission, the congressional district committee of each major political party nominates two members per congressional district, for a total of 32 nominees. From this pool, the governor appoints one member per party per district, for a total of 16 commissioners.

If the commission had been unable to agree on a redistricting plan by January 23, authority over the process would have transferred to the Missouri Judicial Commission for Redistricting. 
In a press release issued after the map was finalized, commission chair Jerry Hunter said, “I want to personally thank all of the commissioners for the hard work that was put in by the commissioners and, obviously, as all of you know, the supporting individuals that have been instrumental to helping get this map done on both sides – on both the Democratic and Republican sides.” Rudi Keller of the Missouri Independent wrote, “Of the 163 districts…, there are 38 where Democrats should have the advantage, 97 where Republicans are dominant and 28 districts with past election results showing less than a 10% advantage for either party.”

Additional reading:



Missouri Judicial Redistricting Commission enacted new state Senate boundaries in March

Missouri completed its legislative redistricting on March 15 when the state’s Judicial Redistricting Commission filed new state Senate district boundaries with the secretary of state.

Two distinct politician commissions are responsible for state legislative redistricting in Missouri—one for the state Senate and another for the state House of Representatives. To form the Senate commission, the state committee of both major political parties nominates 10 members, for a total of 20 nominees. From this pool, the governor selects five members per party, for a total of 10 commissioners. 

The Senate Independent Bipartisan Citizens Commission failed to submit proposed maps to the secretary of state’s office by the December 23, 2021, deadline. Therefore, responsibility for developing Senate district boundaries was assumed by the Missouri Judicial Commission for Redistricting. The judicial commission released its final plan and sent it to the secretary of state’s office on March 15. The commission’s chair, Missouri Appeals Court Justice Cynthia Lynette Martin, said in a press release, “The Judicial Redistricting Commission’s work has been thorough and labor intensive, and was purposefully undertaken with the goal to file a constitutionally compliant plan and map well in advance of the commission’s constitutional deadline to avoid disenfranchising voters given the candidate filing deadline and the deadline for preparing ballots.”
Scott Faughn of The Missouri Times wrote that “[t]he biggest difference in this map and that previous map is that it shifts the weight of some of the districts from rural weighted districts to evenly split districts and even enhances the suburban influence inside several republican seats.” He added, “the new map produces 7 solid democratic districts, and 3 likely democratic districts. On the republican side the new map produces 18 solid republican districts, and 3 more likely republican districts,” with two competitive districts when the current incumbents no longer seek office.

Additional reading:



Missouri enacted new congressional boundaries in May

Missouri enacted new congressional district boundaries on May 18 when Gov. Mike Parson (R) signed them into law. According to Rudi Keller of the Missouri Independent, “No change in the partisan makeup of the Missouri delegation, currently six Republicans and two Democrats, is expected as a result of the map.” Keller also wrote, “nine counties…shifted almost wholly or entirely into new districts. Boundaries shifted in the five large-population counties that were previously split and a new split was introduced in Boone County in central Missouri.” This map takes effect for Missouri’s 2022 congressional elections.

In Missouri, congressional district boundaries are drawn by the state legislature. These lines are subject to veto by the governor.

After the Senate passed the maps, Keller wrote: “The first plan, released in December with backing from the Republican leaders of both chambers, essentially kept the partisan breakdown of the state’s delegation unchanged, with six safe Republican districts and two Democratic districts in Kansas City and St. Louis. The House passed that bill in January and, after weeks of on-and-off debate, the Senate passed a significantly altered version in late March. The seven members of the Senate’s conservative caucus demanded a map that cracked the Kansas City district and combined it with a huge swath of rural counties to make it possible for the GOP to capture the seat. The ‘6-2’ vs. ‘7-1’ debate came to a head in February when the conservative caucus began a filibuster that blocked progress not only on the redistricting plan but also on basically every other bill. At one point, two Republican Senators got into a shouting match and had to be physically separated.”

The Missouri House of Representatives approved the final version of the new congressional districts on May 9 by a vote of 101-47. Eighty-six Republicans and 15 Democrats approved the new map and 28 Democrats and 19 Republicans voted against it. The state Senate approved the legislation—known as HB 2909—on May 11 by a vote of 22-11. Sixteen Republicans and six Democrats voted to approve the new boundaries and seven Republicans and four Democrats voted against it.

Additional reading:



Louisiana legislature adjourns special redistricting session without new congressional boundaries, plaintiffs appeal to SCOTUS

The Louisiana legislature adjourned a special redistricting session on June 18 without approving revised congressional district boundaries. Governor John Bel Edwards (D) had called the special session on June 7 after the United States District Court for the Middle District of Louisiana struck down the state’s congressional district map and enjoined the state from using the districts for the 2022 elections. The special session began on June 15 and was scheduled to end on June 20.

After the session adjourned, State Sen. Rick Ward (R) said, “The problem I’ve run into is that we can’t find anything collectively that can get us to 20 votes. It’s a difficult task, one quite frankly that I think the courts will have to decide.” District Court Justice Shelly Dick, who authored the decision overturning the map, had previously set a hearing to review proposed redistricting plans on June 29. The judge’s original order said that the court would enact a remedial congressional district plan if the legislature did not do so by June 20.

The U. S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit had issued an administrative stay of the district court’s ruling on June 9 pending further proceedings and vacated that stay on June 12.

On June 17, Louisiana Secretary of State Kyle Ardoin (R) and Attorney General Jeff Landry (R) asked the Supreme Court of the United States to stay the federal district court’s decision overturning the congressional map pending appeal and petitioned the court to hear the case. The plaintiff’s appeal said, “If Section 2 [of the Voting Rights Act] does not require creating a gerrymandered second majority-Black district, Louisiana’s entire electorate suffers an irreversible Fourteenth Amendment violation when they next cast their ballots for their congressional representatives…Given the risk to the public that would arise without a stay, entering one far outweighs any burden Plaintiffs may claim.”

Louisiana originally enacted congressional district boundaries on March 30 when the state legislature overrode Gov. Edwards’ veto of legislation establishing the new districts. On March 9, Gov. Edwards vetoed the congressional district map that the legislature had passed on February 18. The state Senate voted to override the governor’s veto 27-11, with all ‘yes’ votes from Republicans and all ‘no’ votes from Democrats. The state House of Representatives overrode Gov. Edwards’ veto 72-32 with 68 Republicans, three independents, and one Democrat voting in favor and all votes against by Democrats.

Additional reading: