California leads the nation with most competitive elections

150 150 Cheryl Getuiza

Elections should be a slugfest this year in California (photo: Scott_Calleja/Flickr)

We are rounding the corner to the November elections. With less than two months to go, candidates for state public offices are campaigning hard for your votes.

California voters will have some big decisions to make at the polls as incumbents will face a primary opponent in 35.7 percent of races. Forty four percent of state legislative seats are open, according to a recent study released by Ballotpedia.

The recent findings catapults California into the top spot with the most competitive state elections. Massachusetts, Georgia and South Carolina are among the least competitive. 

“Voters don’t have a choice unless both primary and general elections are contested and competitive. Over the past two years, the percentage of incumbents facing a primary challenger has increased from 22.69% in 2010 to 24.57% in 2012,” said Tyler King, the lead researcher of Ballotpedia’s State Legislative Comptitiveness Index. “This means that in 75 percent of state legislative primary contests, voters did not have a choice.”

In our state, there are 100 open legislative seats with most of the incumbents seeking re-election. Of those 100, 20 are State Senate seats and 80 are State House seats. 

This year’s statistics are a stark difference from 2010, where California was ranked 11th overall competitiveness.

“We are already seeing the benefits of both the Citizens Redistrcting and the Top Two primary in California which California Forward endorsed as real “good government” measures.  We will see more competitive races this November and in the future and also believe that primary turnout will increase in the years to come,” said Jim Mayer, Executive Director of California Forward.

California Forward believes we are at a tipping point in California. Things have become worse, for sure, but Californians have a large degree of faith things can get better. But they want action, now.

“Remember that California’s political parties weren’t happy with either Citizens Redistricting nor the Top Two primary, but the people spoke…loudly…about their importance. The result we think will be better and more competitive elections and ultimately better governance by our elected officials,” said Mayer.


Cheryl Getuiza

All stories by: Cheryl Getuiza