How Competitive?


If you follow the never-ceasing ups and downs of political pollsters, you’re no doubt aware of all the unhappiness voters have been expressing this year with the incumbents in Congress. You might think from this that most members are in peril of having to start a new career after November 7th, since the voters seem so restive.

Don’t bet on it. Absent an indictment, most incumbents – at least in the House of Representatives – will almost certainly glide to another term in office without much of a speed bump. The reelection rates for House incumbents in the last five elections have been 94%, 98%, 98%, 96% and 98%. The last time they dipped below 90% was in 1992 (when only 88% were reelected). The last time before that was in 1974.

One of the biggest reasons behind those stratospheric reelection rates is the money that incumbents build up through their years of congressional service. The details of this year’s numbers are what I’m digging through right now. If you want to jump the gun and download the numbers into your own spreadsheet or database, you can find the raw data at the Federal Election Commission website right here.

If you’d prefer to let someone else pore over the numbers and dig into what they tell us, watch this space. I’ll have the latest findings up in another couple of days.