2012 House incumbent reelection rates

In the 2012 elections, all 435 House seats were contested. According to Ballotpedia, there were 42 incumbents who retired, leaving 393 seats to be contested by incumbents.

13 incumbents were defeated in the primary elections (Ballotpedia).

22 incumbents were defeated in the general election, 10 Democrats and 12 Republicans (Politico).

That makes for 358 incumbents reelected of the 393 who were running (or 35 House incumbent losses, depending on how you want to look at it), making a reelection rate for 2012 of 91%. This is about 2% lower than the historical average since 1954. 

Also, a 91% House reelection rate for 2012 is the exact same reelection rate for the Senate this year, where 21 of 23 incumbents were reelected.

14 responses to “2012 House incumbent reelection rates

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  6. john lannefeld

    I have heard all the reasons for not having term limits and I’m still not convinced. It’s a travesty that 90%+ of all incumbents are reelected – the founding fathers never envisioned public service as a life-long profession. Money, influence, name-recognition and legislative carved districts make it all but impossible for a credible candidate to take down an incumbent. Congressman Matt Salmon (R-AZ) was elected in 2000 and vowed to only serve three terms – he kept his promise. But, wait a minute, he’s back, and this time there will be no such promise – spent the interim as a paid lobbyist in D.C….ironic? Term limits, though it will never be considered by these entrenched politicians, is our only hope for decent representation.

    • jim5569@gmail.com

      There is another way – the way the founders intended – smaller districts. Smaller districts produce legislators who listen, they have shorter terms in office, lower taxes and balanced budgets. Large legislative districts produce inattentive legislators, high incumbent re-elections, high taxes and out of control spending. Unfortunately, it may be just as tough to repeal the laws Congress passed as it will be to create term limits.

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  11. Adding new representatives to Congress seems like just asking for trouble. They might have smaller districts, but they’ll be just as expensive, and only increase the more burdensome part of government. Jim’s second comment suggestion, the reallocation with a static 435, might be better.

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