Politics & Elections

RI Rank releases 2021 General Assembly election strength rankings

In the last election cycle, 63% of the General Assembly elections were uncontested. Yet, in the 38% of cases where the incumbent was primaried, the challenger won, unseating the incumbent. In many cases, that was all it took, since there was no general election challenger. General election challengers won about 5% of their elections.
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Published on February 9, 2021
By Steve Ahlquist

RI Rank’s 2021 General Assembly election strength rankings, are designed to highlight two things:

  1. General Assembly incumbents who have shown the strength to win their districts, sometimes overwhelmingly; and
  2. The abundance of uncontested General Assembly races over the past three election cycles.

Elected officials that have to campaign for votes may be more responsive to the concerns of their constituents. Conversely, those elected officials that never face challenges in either the primary or the general elections might be coasting along, assured of an easy campaign victory, and perhaps less responsive to their constituents.

This isn’t an absolute, of course, perhaps the elected official is so popular with their constituents that no one thinks of running against them – but candidates that run unopposed might not have the chops to defend their seats against aggressive campaigns that reach out to voters and connect in ways that incumbents haven’t bothered to in years.

In the last election cycle, 63% of the General Assembly elections were uncontested. Yet, in the 38% of cases where the incumbent was primaried, the challenger won, unseating the incumbent. In many cases, that was all it took, since there was no general election challenger. General election challengers won about 5% of their elections.

Something important to realize about these rankings: The data is compiled independent of issues, legislation, political agendas and personality. It’s also important to note that election strength is not a good measure of job performance. RI Rank currently scores legislators on a variety of factors, including Civil Rights, Open Government and the Environment, and that’s coming up in the next few months.

The top Senators in terms of election strength are all Democrats: Tiara Mack District 6), Alana DiMario (District 36), Maryellen Goodwin (District 1) and Michael McCaffrey (District 29).

The top Representatives in terms of election strength are also all Democrats: Grace Diaz (District 11), Rebecca Kislak (District 4), Michelle McGaw (District 71) and Terri Cortvriend (District 72).

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