Are Tennessee incumbents safe?

Lamar Alexander Cropped

Sen. Lamar Alexander

By Zachary Toillion

It is no secret that Washington is perceived negatively by the vast majority of the public.

In April, a Gallup poll found that 72 percent of Americans believe congressional incumbents should not be re-elected, the largest percentage in the history of their polling. The same survey found that 50 percent of Americans believe their representatives should not be re-elected. In Gallup’s most recent survey, only 15 percent approve of the way Congress is doing its job.

All of these statistics are unfavorable to incumbent political office holders. Despite these statistics, incumbent legislators have won over 95% of their primaries, despite facing well-funded challengers in states like Kentucky and Mississippi.

In Tennessee, the incumbency appears to not be a drag on any candidate running for office. Since 2010, incumbent statewide office holders won by a margin of 34 percent, and congressional incumbents won by an average margin of 41 percent. All of Tennessee’s congressional delegation has been rated as “solidly Republican” by the Cook Political Report, a nonpartisan political analysis organization. Additionally, Tennessee’s candidates for statewide office, Gov. Bill Haslam and Sen. Lamar Alexander, are also considered to be highly favored in their races.

Tennessee is not alone in having mostly non-competitive elections. 20 additional states lack any competitive House, Senate or gubernatorial races. Despite espousing dissatisfaction with the current political climate as a whole, it appears that both Tennesseans and voters across the country are likely to re-elect the leadership that is currently representing them.

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