Ballotpedia Publishes new Margin of Victory Analysis for 2012 Congressional Races

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Ballotpedia editors have analyzed all 435 U.S. House elections held in 2012, examining trends in the margins of victory across the country.

Only 14.5% of all U.S. House races were decided by 10 percentage points or less in 2012. This points to the increasingly partisan nature of voters and the reality that by the time the general election comes along, the race is essentially decided.

Ballotpedia has released an analysis of the margin of victory in the 2012 congressional races. Using certified election results, Ballotpedia staff calculated the margin of victory between the first and second place finishers in each of the 435 U.S. House races. According to the analysis, there were only 63 races that boasted a margin of victory of 10 percent or less, with the Democratic candidate winning 33 of those races. Republicans dominated the races with a margin of victory between 10 and 20 percent, claiming 64 of the 87 contests in that category.

The average margin of victory across all congressional districts was 31.85 percent, meaning that on average the winner of each race received nearly twice as many votes as their top opponent. The average margin for Democratic victory was 35.7 percent, which is significantly higher than the Republican average of 28.6 percent.

The smallest margin of victory was North Carolina's 7th district, where incumbent Democrat Mike McIntyre defeated David Rouzer (R) by 0.2 percent. The largest margin of victory were both major parties fielded a general election candidate was in New York's 15th District, where incumbent Democrat Jose Serrano defeated Frank Della Valle (R) by 83 percent.

"One of the most compelling results we found was that only 63 races were decided by less than 10 percentage points," explains Geoff Pallay, lead researcher for the report. "If you consider that these races are the only truly competitive contests, then only 14.5% of all U.S. House races were competitive in 2012. This further points to the increasingly partisan nature of voters and the reality that by the time the general election comes along, the race is essentially decided. In these uncompetitive general election races, the real ballot is occurring in the primary."

Earlier in the campaign season, Ballotpedia analyzed the contested nature of congressional primaries, finding that only 51.51 percent of congressional incumbents faced a primary opponent.

The complete analysis is available online.

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If you'd like more information, or to schedule an interview with Ballotpedia's project manager, please contact Lauren Warden Rodgers at lauren.rodgers(at)lucyburns(dot)org.

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