Rock Stars Sure are Lonely in the Winner’s Circle

In a previous post, we showed how difficult it was for a repeat candidate to win in his/her second attempt at an office. Since there was so much interesting data on this topic, we decided to turn this into several posts. This second post will refine the original target audience of 81 repeat candidates down to 32 repeat candidates who ran in two straight general elections with the opponent in the second general election being an incumbent.

From this more narrow group of 32 repeat candidates, only 1 (3.1%) was successful in his bid to become a state legislator — and that was the Elvis impersonating rock star Bruce Borders in HD45.

In addition, nearly two-thirds of these 32 candidates performed worse in their second attempt compared to their first attempt.  21 of these 32 candidates (65.6%) received a lower vote percentage in their second attempt while only 11 (34.4%) performed better than their first attempt.

In contrast, first-time state legislative candidates who were facing an incumbent won 5.7% of the time (18 out of 316).  Nine of these were House Democratic candidates, eight were House Republican candidates and one was a Senate Republican candidate.

It is also interesting to note that out of these 17 first-time House candidates who defeated an incumbent, the Democratic candidates in those nine districts have won all 17 (100%) of their contests since first winning the seat from a Republican, while the Republican candidates in those eight districts have won five of 15 (33%) of their contests since first winning the seat from a Democrat.

The bottom line here remains the same:  No matter how you choose to slice and dice the numerical facts of legislative races between 1998-2008, repeat candidates who do not have something significantly different in their second attempt are clearly less successful than first time candidates. It is clear that no matter the party or chamber, recruiting a defeated candidate to run again will most likely result in defeat again … unless you have a rock star running.

Please feel free to post a comment to this blog posting and start a conversation here.

0 thoughts on “Rock Stars Sure are Lonely in the Winner’s Circle

  1. You know, that’s an interesting perspective. I had always thought the opposite was true, namely that it takes multiple election cycles to pick up a seat. I wonder if the legislature is different than a local election on this statistic? Interesting thought to ponder

  2. Thank you for your comment and that is an interesting thought to ponder. We would also like to be able to compare the state legislature to local offices and to Congress too. Local offices would probably be too challenging, but we may be able to look at Congress. Stay tuned….