Uncontested State Legislative Races 2002-2004
This analysis demonstrates that a large number of state legislative elections were uncontested* by Democrats and Republicans in 2002 and 2004. Using data from Ballot Access News on state legislative seats up for election in 2002 and 2004 and the party affiliation of the candidates, we determined the number of races with only one major party candidate.  Third party candidates and independents contest some races, but relatively few and have very limited electoral success in our winner-take-all system.

2002: 36.9% of state legislative races in 2002 were not contested by the two major parties. In many states, more than half of the state legislative seats were uncontested.

2004: 38.7% of state legislative races in 2004 were not contested by the two major parties.

The ten states with the highest percentage of seats uncontested by a major party in 2002 and 2004 are shown below.  Arkansas, Florida, New Mexico, South Carolina and Texas appear on both lists:

South Carolina     71.8%
Massachusetts     68.8%
Arkansas     67.0%
Kentucky     67.0%
Florida     65.0%
New Mexico     57.1%
Kansas     56.0%
Rhode Island     56.0%
Texas     55.3%
Alaska     55.0%

Arkansas     74.6%
Florida     72.5%
South Carolina     70.0%
New Mexico     61.6%
Texas     61.2%
Georgia     58.9%
Wyoming     57.9%
Arizona     54.4%
Illinois     52.5%
North Carolina     52.4%

For more information on specific states, download the data in Microsoft Excel format for 2002 and 2004.

* “Uncontested” for the purposes of this study refers to a race that lacks either a Democratic or Republican candidate.  In this summary state house and state senate races are combined into a single category.