Our new book is titled Divided We Stand: The 2020 Elections and American Politics. Among other things, it discusses state and congressional elections.
The number of House incumbents who lose primaries tends to be higher in the first election after reapportionment and redistricting. Many have substantially new constituencies, and some face other incumbents.
The 2022 midterms are on track to see the most losses by House members in their primaries in three decades.
Why it matters: The number of incumbents who have been ousted — or are likely to be toppled in upcoming primary contests — highlights a political realignment that has been underway in both parties for years.This year's primary bloodbath follows 2020's, which saw the most primary losses in a non-redistricting year since 1974.
State of play: 11 House members have lost their primaries so far this cycle — seven Republicans and four Democrats. Several common trends have emerged:
- Incumbent vs. incumbent: 10 House members were forced to compete with a colleague for a district after their state lost a seat in reapportionment.
- Progressive vs. moderate: Progressive Reps. Andy Levin (D-Mich.) and Marie Newman (D-Ill.) lost to more moderate colleagues, while centrist Rep. Kurt Schrader (D-Ore.) lost to a liberal primary challenger.
- Trump's revenge: In five cases, former President Trump's endorsement helped topple incumbents who broke with him on impeachment or, in other cases, major legislation.
- Ethics issues: Reps. Steven Palazzo (R-Miss.) and Madison Cawthorn (R-N.C.) lost to insurgents amid ethics controversies, with Cawthorn in particular engulfed in a cloud of scandal.
So far this year, 182 state legislative incumbents—48 Democrats and 134 Republicans—have lost to primary challengers.
Across the 38 states that have held primaries, 4.6% of incumbents running for re-election have lost, an elevated level of incumbent losses compared to previous cycles.