How Competitive Will Hawaii’s State Elections Be?

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Elections 2012
Illustration by Emily Metcalf

REPORT FROM BALLOTPEDIA – As Hawaii’s state legislative election filling deadline looms on June 5th, election experts are hoping for a more competitive race than in previous years. Hawaii, although leading the country for most competitive election states in 2010, has in past years seen a lack of contested races. This trend allows the incumbent to sail through the primary and general election, often times without an opponent.

“In every community across this country, voters are given the opportunity to exercise their right to vote. However, when no one steps up to run for these state legislative seats, the same person is able to fill these positions,” said Tyler King, Editor of Ballotpedia’s State Legislative Competitiveness Index.


Ballotpedia, an online almanac about state politics, has once again launched their state legislative competitive index, which analyzes which states have the most competitive and least competitive electoral environments in 2012.

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 addition, Hawaii’s 2012 report will be released following the close of the filing deadline and the initial release of a candidate list.

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 believes that democracy improves when multiple voices are heard and challenge the status quo. As such, we urge Hawaiians to hold their elected official accountable by challenging them in the election. It isn’t too late for more concerned citizens to throw their name in the hat and make a difference in Hawaii,” said King.

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.