90 Percent of Hawaii’s Incumbents Running For Re-Election

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Elections 2012
Graphic: Emily Metcalf

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

According to Ballotpedia, of Hawaii’s 76 seats up for election in November, 71 incumbents are running for re-election. 27 of 71 (38%) incumbents will face a primary opponent. 8 of 76 (10.5%) districts are open seats, meaning there are no incumbents running in them. And in 47 of the 76 (38%) districts, there will be only one major party candidate in the general election.


“Similarly to 2010, Hawaii’s state elections will once again be dominated by the incumbent. However, with eight open districts there will be opportunities for new voices to be heard in the Hawaii 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 5,984 state legislative seats that are up for election on November 6, 2012.

In 2010, Hawaii ranked 6th in the country for most competitive elections according to the state’s electoral competitiveness metric. For open seats, 7 (10.9%) of the 64 incumbents did not run for re-election in Hawaii. Additionally, 6 (9.4%) did not face another major party candidate in the general election. Nationally, incumbents ran for re-election in 4,985 of the 6,125 (81.4%) seats up for the 2010 election.

Hawaii was also ranked 6th in the nation in 2010 for incumbents who faced a primary challenge with 34 (59.6%) of incumbents who ran for re-election not facing a primary challenger. Nationally, 3,852 of the 4,985 (77.3%) incumbents 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. “Ballotpedia would like to note that Hawaii’s Secretary of State published the candidate list on the day of the candidate filing deadline; a very rapid turn around.”

About Ballotpedia  

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, non-partisan Lucy Burns Institute, which is based in Madison, Wisconsin.