Nine Republican and four Democratic state legislative incumbents ousted by primary challengers in the last week

The rate of incumbents being defeated in state legislative primaries at this point in the primary cycle is higher than 2010-2016. After state legislative primaries in the past week (Kansas, Michigan, Missouri, and Washington on August 7, and Tennessee’s August 2 primaries) 99 state legislative incumbents have been defeated in primary elections in 2018.

From 2010 to 2016, an average of 140 incumbents were defeated in state legislative primaries. When only looking at states that have held 2018 primaries so far, an average of 90 incumbents were defeated from 2010 to 2016. In those same states, 99 incumbents were defeated in 2018 primaries.

In Kansas, the Republican primaries focused on Gov. Sam Brownback’s (R) 2012 tax cuts. In the 2017 legislative session, the Kansas State Legislature largely repealed the tax cuts and overrode Brownback when he vetoed the repeal. Twelve of the 19 incumbents who faced challengers generally opposed Brownback’s tax cuts, five mostly supported them, and two did not firmly belong to either faction. Five of the 12 anti-Brownback incumbents lost their primaries, while one pro-Brownback incumbent lost his primary. The race between anti-Brownback Rep. Steven R. Becker and pro-Brownback candidate Paul Waggoner remains too close to call. All seven of the Democratic representatives with primary challengers successfully advanced to the general election.

In the other states:

Michigan: one Democratic senator, one Democratic representative, and one Republican representative were defeated.

Missouri: Senator Jacob Hummel (D), who served as minority floor leader from 2013 to 2017, was defeated.

Tennessee: one Democratic senator and two Republican representatives were defeated.

Washington: the outcome of these primaries remain unclear due to the state’s vote-by-mail process, which delays the release of final vote totals.

Of the 99 incumbents who have been defeated, 42 Democratic incumbents lost. Therefore, 86.2 percent of all Democratic incumbents who participated in a primary won. Fifty-seven Republican incumbents were defeated. Therefore, 86.4 percent of all GOP incumbents who participated in a primary advanced to the general election.

In 2018, 21.7 percent of Democratic incumbents and 20.4 percent of Republican incumbents are facing primary opposition. In 2016, 18.6 percent of Democratic incumbents and 21.4 percent of Republican incumbents faced primary opposition.

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