Ballotpedia is a cool election website that everyone should bookmark. In addition to facts ’n’ figures, the website provides interesting analyses, the latest being “A dearth of challengers in the 2010 state legislative elections.” Looks like 2010 might not be such a bad year for incumbent legislators — on the state level, at any rate:
Our research shows that a total of 1,145 (18.69%) of the 6,125 seats up for election are what we considered “open” ― where the incumbent was not running for re-election.
However, these figures are drastically different when looking at term limited states versus non-term-limited states.
There are 15 term limited states. Only Louisiana is not holding elections in 2010. Of the 14 term-limited states holding elections, 35.13% of all seats are open. In non-term limited states, that number plummets to 12.90%.
The discrepancy is largest in the Senate. In term limited states, 48.81% of seats are open. However, that number plummets to only 13.24% for states without term limits. That means 721 of the 831 Senators are running for re-election in states without term limits.
A total of 1,130 incumbents will face a primary during the 2010 election year. That works out to only 22.69% of incumbents who will face any primary challenger.
These incumbents are essentially guaranteed re-election. About one in four incumbents ― 25.70% exactly ― face no challenge at any level of the 2010 election.