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« The Personal Side of Legislative Life | Main | State Legislators who Became President »

June 08, 2006


Mark Rhoads

The record of special elections that have gone to Democrats is interesting and does indicate a trend against Republicans. But it is not necessarily indicative of a trend that might translate to larger congressional districts that were drawn to be less competitive and that require more money. None of the 25 state legislative districts came close to the population of a congressional district.
The advantages of incumbency including franked mail at the congressional level are decidedly more powerful than those for incumbent state lawmakers.
Lastly, special elections normally have a much lower turnout than regular elections do. While low turnout elections often favor incumbents, they also favor highly motivated voters whose opinion carries greater weight in the outcome. What killed Democrats in the 1994 elections at both the congressional and state legislative level was the fact that Republicans were more motivated to vote and Democrats stayed home. To some extent, the opposite trend is showing up in these special elections.

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