2012-09-07 / Community

Ballotpedia Sizes Up The Competition

Ballotpedia, an online almanac about state politics, released its analysis of New York’s 2012 state legislative competitive index. The index analyzes which states have the most and least competitive electoral environments.

According to Ballotpedia, of New York’s 213 seats up for election in November, 189 incumbents are running for re-election. Thirty-nine of 189 incumbents (20.6%) will face a primary opponent. Twenty-three of 213 districts (10.8%) are open seats, meaning there are no incumbents running in them. And in 52 of the 213 districts (24.4%), there will be only one major party candidate in the general election.

“Similarly to 2010, New York’s state elections will once again be dominated by the incumbent. However, with 23 open districts there will be opportunities for new voices to be heard in the New York State Legislature,” said Tyler King, editor of Ballotpedia’s State Legislative Competitiveness Index.

In its third year, the Ballotpedia state legislative competitive index looks at three factors: is the incumbent running for re-election in a district; if so, does he or she draw a primary challenge; and are there two major party candidates in the general election. The comprehensive 2012 state legislative competitive index will be released following the completion of the primaries in all 43 states with 2012 state legislative elections. It will examine all 6,015 state legislative seats that are up for election on November 6, 2012.

In 2010, New York ranked 13th in the country for most competitive according to the state’s electoral competitiveness metric. For open seats, largely because of the state’s term limits law, New York was ranked 28th with 25 out of 212 incumbents (11.8%) not running. Additionally, 46 of the 212 (21.7%) did not face another major party candidate in the general election. Nationally, incumbents ran for re-election in 4,985 of the 6,125 seats (81.4%) up for the 2010 election.

New York was also ranked 17th in the nation in 2010 for incumbents who faced a primary challenge with 149 (79.7%) not facing an opponent. Nationally, 3,852 of the 4,985 incumbents (77.3%) faced no challenger in the primary.

“Ballotpedia’s competitive index is a critical tool for voters and candidates to understand the value of a competitive election.

When incumbents are able to sail through the primary and general election, without facing an opponent, the same person is able to hold their position without being held accountable by an actual election,” said King.

Established in 2007, Ballotpedia is an online almanac about state politics, elections and election law.

It includes information about U.S. Congress, state legislatures, ballot measures (including ballot measure law, school bond and tax elections, recall elections and local ballot measures), governors, secretaries of state and state attorneys general. Ballotpedia’s staff includes 15 researchers and writers, as well as volunteer writers and editors.

It is published by the non-profit, nonpartisan Lucy Burns Institute, which is based in Madison, Wisconsin. They can be found online at ballotpedia.org.

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