William & Mary

W&M program releases report on contested elections

A Report by Professor John McGlennon and TJPPP Research Assistant Cory Kaufman:  Expanding the Playing Field:  Competition Rises for State Legislative Seats in 2006 (pdf)

A study, released this week by the Thomas Jefferson Program in Public Policy at the College of William and Mary, shows the number of contested state legislative seats are on the rise. The report examined all 6,000 state legislative contests up for election nation-wide Nov. 7 and found more than 100 additional contested seats than in 2002.

McGlennon“The increase in competition is another piece of evidence that Americans are becoming more, not less, active politically,” said John McGlennon, professor of public policy and government, about his findings.

The report found the highest levels of competition in states along the country’s northern tier and in states with a tradition of direct participatory democracy.

States with an 80 percent or higher competitive rate included Michigan, Maine, California and Ohio. The lowest levels of competition, with two major party nominees in fewer than half of their races, were found in southern and single party states including Texas, Georgia, South Carolina and North Carolina. The highest jumps in competitiveness over 2002 occurred in Florida, Kansas and Indiana – up 61, 40 and 37 percent, respectively.

This year, the study reported, only 920 Republicans avoided a Democratic opponent while 1,255 Democrats faced no major party challenger.

“The report challenges the conventional wisdom that reapportionment has made competitive elections an oxymoron,” McGlennon said.

KaufmanResearch assistant Cory Kaufman, MPP, assisted with this report.

For additional comment or information about the survey please contact John McGlennon at (0) 757.221.3034, (h) 757.220.0568 or [[jjmcgl]].

John McGlennon is a professor in the Department of Government and is affiliated with the Thomas Jefferson Program in Public Policy at the College of William and Mary.  He teaches The Politics of Metro Areas in the Fall and State/Local Politics in the Spring.