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Uncontested State Legislative Races 2002-2004

October 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:

2002
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%

2004

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.

* ĺ─˙Uncontestedĺ─¨ 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.


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