A Night for Incumbents

Now that the May 6 primaries are over, we see more verification that federal incumbents are returning to pre-2006 victory percentages, despite almost universally negative opinions about Washington.

As we all know, poll after poll is showing record disapproval of Congress, as an institution and pertaining to the leadership of both parties, but challenged incumbents in early primaries are recording stellar electoral results, nonetheless.

Below is the list of incumbents challenged in their own primaries on Tuesday night, along with their impressive victory percentages in most instances.


  • District 3: Rep. Marlin Stutzman (R) – 81% against two opponents
  • District 4: Rep. Todd Rokita (R) – 71% against one opponent
  • District 5: Rep. Susan Brooks (R) – 73% against two opponents
  • District 7: Rep. Andre Carson (D) – 89% against three opponents
  • District 8: Rep. Larry Bucshon (R) – 75% against one opponent
  • District 9: Rep. Todd Young (R) – 79% against two opponents

North Carolina

  • Senate: Sen. Kay Hagan (D) – 77% against two opponents
  • District 1: Rep. G.K. Butterfield (D) – 81% against one opponent
  • District 2: Rep. Renee Ellmers (R) – 59% against one opponent
  • District 3: Rep. Walter Jones Jr. (R) – 51% against two opponents
  • District 5: Rep. Virginia Foxx (R) – 75% against one opponent
  • District 9: Rep. Bob Pittenger (R) – 68% against one opponent
  • District 10: Rep. Patrick McHenry (R) – 78% against one opponent


  • District 8: Speaker John Boehner (R) – 69% against three opponents
  • District 10: Rep. Mike Turner (R) – 80% against one opponent
  • District 13: Rep. Tim Ryan (D) – 85% against one opponent
  • District 14: Rep. David Joyce (R) – 55% against one opponent
  • District 15: Rep. Steve Stivers (R) – 90% against one opponent

Despite record discontent with Congress and the members who comprise the body, huge numbers of primary challenges (a full 50 percent of incumbents running for re-election on May 6 drew a primary opponent), and with many incumbents even publicly distancing themselves from their own positions, renomination percentages were extremely high across the board. With no incumbent defeats earlier this week and only three congressmen falling below 60%, it appears poor job performance ratings are, so far, not translating into challenger votes.

The coming races in Nebraska and West Virginia next Tuesday, and six other states on May 20 will provide us further information. At this point, however, the incumbents’ trend appears likely hold in all of those places, too.


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