Knocking Down the Anti-Incumbency Meme

by John Sides on August 4, 2010 · 1 comment

in Campaigns and elections

Chris Beam has a nice piece [link now included] at Slate that takes on the whole “oh, what a terrible year for incumbents!” notion and shows it to be mostly wrong. There’s a cite to my post from a while back, but this is the real money:

But let’s put this in perspective. So far this year, 282 federal-level incumbents have been up for re-election. Of those, only six have lost their seats—four in the House and two in the Senate. (Aside from Bennett, Kilpatrick, and Specter, there’s Rep. Alan Mollohan, D-W.Va.; Rep. Parker Griffith, R-Ala.; and Rep. Bob Inglis, R-S.C.) That’s 2 percent of all incumbents. If you count only the 119 incumbents who have faced primary challengers, the proportion who were defeated goes up to 5 percent.

Kudos to Beam for actually counting both the numerator and the denominator and then dividing. That bit of simple arithmetic seems beyond a great many commentators.

{ 1 comment }

TheOneEyedMan August 4, 2010 at 8:41 pm

I think you forgot to link to the actual piece:
http://www.slate.com/id/2262668/

Is the number of early seats to change hands actually predictive? Special elections voters like primary and caucus voters, are a pretty atypical bunch.

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