Campaign not much of a contest
Massachusetts elections are becoming a little more of a contest, but not much
two years ago, we had stories showing the Bay State was dead last in the country for the number of contested races for the Legislature, with less than 17 percent of the seats having a candidate from both major parties in the 2008 election. By comparison, every one of Minnesota’s 134 House seats gave voters a choice.
So the 2010 ballot, where 46 percent of the Legislature’s seats were contested, should boost our civic pride a bit, right? Well, yes and no. While the number is nearly a three-fold increase over the previous election, it still ranks Massachusetts at the back of the pack, 39th out of 50 states.
This analysis, compiled by reviewing ballots and results in all 50 states, defines a contested race as one where a Republican and a Democrat square off. Statistics show major party candidates won 98 percent of the races in the last two years and nearly 100 percent of the 7,384 state legislators in the United States have a major party affiliation.
We’re not as bad as South Carolina, which ranks dead last with just 30 percent of the legislative seats having two or more major party candidates squaring off, but we don’t hold a candle to our neighbors in New Hampshire or Maine, first and second, respectively, with 98 and 97 percent challenge rates. New Jersey, which held its legislative elections in November, had contests for 99 percent of its seats but that was due in large part to redistricting, which took effect in 2011.