- 15 incumbent versus incumbent contests
- Freshman targeted more often
- Table of pairings
- Preview of remaining incumbent versus incumbent battles
- Links to previous Election Insights articles involving incumbent versus incumbent races
- Behind the Numbers with Michael: 39 (a tribute to Sally Ride)
Nearly one-third (9 of 26) of the incumbents involved in these contests are serving in their first full term. Freshmen (or those in their first full term like Rep. Critz) are often easier targets in the redistricting process to end up with less favorable districts. They have less seniority, less power and often not as strong of relationships. Even though three of the nine incumbents are in states where the new lines are drawn by Independent Redistricting Commissions, do not be lulled into believing that “Independent” means blind to who the incumbents are and absent the partisan politics involved in playing cartographer that occurs when state legislatures draw the lines.
Another motive often at play by those drawing the lines is to eliminate incumbents who are not as well thought of as others in their delegation (OH-09) or force the retirement of someone who should step aside (IL-16). Redistricting is a game of power, control and self-interest for elected officials. For House members, it is often a game of self-preservation that results in many members hiring others to lobby on their behalf to protect their district lines and, therefore, their chances to stay in Congress. Can you think of any other issue where a member would hire outside help to show up at the statehouse?
Due to the new top two primary system in California, the incumbents paired against each other in CA-30 and CA-44 faced each other in the Primary Election where they were the top vote getters and thus advanced to face each other again in the General Election. Twice the fun, twice the pain. Louisiana holds their Primary Election on November 6 (the same date as the General Election in the other 49 states) and if no candidate crosses the 50% mark, they will hold a Runoff Election on December 1.
Here are the 13 incumbent versus incumbent pairings in 2012:
Click on the state to read previous Election Insights articles on primary races already conducted involving incumbent versus incumbent: California, Illinois, New Jersey, Ohio and Pennsylvania.