Over the past decade, the percentage of U.S. House of Representatives elections with only a Democrat or a Republican on the ballot has decreased, with most recent cycles dropping below the past century’s average.
From 1920 to 2018, 14.4% of all U.S. House general elections had only one major party candidate.
By comparison, here is the recent breakdown:
Broken down by party, there were 738 races without a Democratic candidate and 2,465 races without a Republican candidate in the 52 election cycles from 1920 to 2022. Eight of the cycles had more races without a Democratic candidate than races without a Republican candidate. Those election years were all in the past 30 years: 1994, 1996, 1998, 2002, 2004, 2010, 2012, and 2022.
The year with the most races without a Democratic candidate was 1998, with 56. The year with the fewest was 1932, when there were no races without a Democratic candidate. The year with the most races without a Republican candidate was 1958, with 88, and the year with the fewest was 2010, with five.
In 2022, the races without a Democratic candidate were located in Alabama (2), Arizona (2), Florida (3), Louisiana (2), North Dakota (1), Pennsylvania (2), South Carolina (3), Texas (6), and Wisconsin (2). The races without a Republican candidate were located in California (7), Illinois (1), Massachusetts (1), New York (2), and Pennsylvania (1).
Every two-year election cycle, some Democrats or Republicans win U.S. House elections without major party opposition. From 1920 to 2018, there were 2,434 U.S. House races without a Republican candidate in the general election, compared to 707 races without a Democratic candidate.
- In 2018, 41 of the 435 U.S. House races lacked either a Democratic or Republican candidate in the general election. Three of the 41 races did not have a Democratic candidate on the ballot, and the remaining 38 did not have a Republican candidate running.
- In comparison, there were 61 such seats in 2016 and 76 in 2014. The number of seats without a Democratic candidate dropped over the course of the three election cycles; it fell from 36 in 2014 to three in 2018. In comparison, 40 U.S. House races did not have a Republican candidate in 2014 compared to 38 in 2018.
The election years that had the most races without major party opposition were 1930 (99), 1998 (95), 1942 (89), 1958 (89), and 1934 (83). Conversely, the election years with the fewest races of that nature were 1996 (21), 2010 (29), 1992 (31), 1932 (35), and 2018 (41).
On average across the 50 election cycles from 1920 to 2018, about 62.8 U.S. House races had only one major party represented on the general election ballot. During that timeframe, Democrats averaged 14.1 U.S. House races per cycle compared to 48.7 races for Republicans. In the 10 election cycles spanning 2000 to 2018, the average dropped to 57.4 races. In the 40 election cycles spanning 1920 to 1998, the average rose to 64.2 races. Alaska, Delaware, Idaho, Montana, New Hampshire, and Wyoming were the only states that had a Democratic and Republican candidate on every U.S. House ballot from 1920 to 2018.
Produced in association with Ballotpedia
Edited by Jessi Rexroad Shull and Alberto Arellano