Our forthcoming book is titled Divided We Stand: The 2020 Elections and American Politics. Among other things, it discusses state legislative elections.
Two-hundred and twenty seven incumbent state legislators lost re-election in general elections on Nov. 3, 2020. This represents 4.7% of all state legislative incumbents who ran in general elections
10 Independent/third party
This was the fewest number of state legislators defeated since 2010. It marked a 29.5% decrease from the 322 defeated in 2018 and was 54.8% lower than the decade-high 502 incumbents defeated in the 2010 general election. Since 2010, an average of 307 incumbents have been defeated in even-year general elections.
More Democrats lost in the general elections than Republicans in 2020, the fourth even-year cycle when this has occurred since 2010 (along with 2010, 2014, and 2016). More Republicans lost in general elections in 2012 and 2018.
In addition to general election defeats, incumbents can also lose in primary elections. In 2020, more Republicans lost in primaries (94) than Democrats (60). For more detailed information about state legislative incumbents who lost in the 2020 primaries, click here.
On average, over the past decade, more Republican incumbents lost in primaries than did Democrats (87 versus 57). More Democratic incumbents lost in general elections than did Republicans (186 versus 114). Overall, Democratic incumbents had a higher overall number of defeated incumbents than Republicans (243 versus 201).
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