Oklahoma ranked 32nd in legislative electoral competitiveness

altThe study from Ballotpedia,
an online news service, focused on three distinct categories. While the
study did not attempt to analyze the possible effect of
“gerrymandering” (drawing districts in such as way as to benefit one
political party or the other), the impact of “safe seat” district lines
is implied in the data.

The Sooner State was placed 29th in terms of incumbents facing a
primary, 40th in terms of major candidates facing major party
competition, and 18th in the proportion of open seats.

Geoff Pallay, project director for the investigation, told
CapitolBeatOK, “The most significant ranking for Oklahoma is 40th, in
terms of major party competition. We used this as a factor, because with
either a Democrat or Republican winning 99% of the time, when only one
of those parties fields a candidate, that in essence guarantees

The Ballotpedia study
noted that Oklahoma has a total of 125 total legislative seats up for
election (24 in the state Senate, 101 in the state House of

All told, Pallay said, “There are 55 candidates in Oklahoma that have no
major party competition. That’s 55.20% of the races, which is one of
the highest totals in the country. Only six states had less competition
based on this category — Alabama, Texas, Georgia, Arkansas, Wyoming,
South Carolina.”

On the plus side in terms of Pallay’s analysis, “Oklahoma has term
limits, which helps its ranking in terms of open seats (where an
incumbent is not running).”  He noted that 22 legislators did not seek
re-election, 17.6 percent of the total. That put the state at 18th in
proportion of open seats. Pallay explained, “This is one of the
categories where, despite Oklahoma being in the top half of the states,
the percentage is still exceedingly low in terms of competitiveness.”

In all, only four Senate incumbents who decided to run faced a party
primary. In the House, only eight incumbents who decided to run again
had a party primary. Putting the analysis through another filter, six
Senate incumbents who ran had no competition at all; 46 House incumbents
faced no competition.

Pallay said “those are also low percentages. Overall, 76 incumbents
running for re-election did not face a primary challenger. So
subtracting the incumbents not running from total seats means 76 out of
the 103 incumbents running faced no primary.”

The Ballotpedia investigation concluded the states most competitive in
legislative races were New Hampshire, Michigan, Arizona, Nevada and
Missouri, while the least competitive were Texas, Tennessee, Delaware,
Kentucky and New Mexico.

Of the 6,125 legislative seats up for election this year, incumbents ran
in 4,985. More than three-fourths (77.33%) had no primaries, 32.7% had
no major party opposition, and 26% (1,295) had neither a primary nor a
general election opponent.