2021 RI General Assembly Election Strength Rankings

See which members have been the most competitive in recent elections

Why We Rank Election Strength

In the marketplace, the presence of competition usually results in better products. A company that holds a monopoly position has little incentive to innovate. In elections, the same rules apply. Elected officials who consistently run uncontested have little reason to listen and respond to their constituents, because they will hold onto the job regardless of their performance. Incumbents who often face contested races are incentivized to more closely represent the people they serve and be more responsive, knowing they will be competing for the job every 2 years. 

Election Strength Rankings are intended to highlight incumbents who have shown the strength to win their district, sometimes overwhelmingly, and the abundance of uncontested races over the past 3 election cycles. Several factors play a part in election results, many of which an incumbent cannot control. For example, an incumbent cannot be faulted for winning an uncontested election. On the other side of the coin, a Senator's dominant victory may have come primarily as a result of a weak or underfunded opponent. Elections are ultimately a popularity contest and not a scientific measurement of a job well done. As a result, this rankings segment should not be considered a measurement of an incumbent's job performance and will not factor into a member's Overall Rankings.

Summary of Findings

Uncontested elections are a problem nationwide and Rhode Island certainly holds its own in that category. In fact, the number of General Assembly elections we counted in which the incumbent was unopposed was downright startling. However, when incumbents are challenged, especially in primaries, their chances of retaining seats are far from a sure thing. For current members of the House and Senate, here is a summary of what we found over the last 6 years (3 election cycles) we measured:

Uncontested Races in the General Assembly (last 3 election cycles)

Total:

63%

Primary:

76%

General Election:

50%

2020:

66%

2018:

61%

2016:

61%

Senate:

59%

House:

65%

2020 Challengers vs. Incumbents: Challenger Win Percentage

Overall

Total:

18%

Primary:

38%

General Election:

5%

Senate

Total:

17%

Primary:

40%

General Election:

0%

House

Total:

19%

Primary:

38%

General Election:

7%

How We Scored Election Strength

We examine each member's last three election cycles (primaries and general) where possible, and focused on two metrics: the margin of victory and the number of elections that went uncontested. Special elections are not counted unless it was the member's most recent race. The most recent election cycle is by far the most important one, and is given much higher weight. We also give more weight to primary elections because they have been historically more competitive than general elections.

In counting the margin of victory, we take the winner's percentage of votes and subtract the total percentage of votes of all other declared candidates. In some 3+-way races, the winner receives a minority of the total vote and in these instances the margin of victory is scored as "0". We do not score these in the negative because it would imply that unopposed incumbents are more competitive, which is impossible to know.

Lastly, two deductions are applied: One accounting for uncontested races with a penalty based on the percentage of elections in which the member had no declared competition. For example, if a member had a contested election in 3 of the 6 races measured, they keep 50% of their combined margin of victory total. The second deduction is applied to Senators who did not run in 2018 or 2016. This ratio affects scores less, but helps account for the smaller track record these members have overall.


Senate Rankings

1.

Tiara Mack

District 6 (Elected 2020)

699

2.

Alana DiMario

District 36 (Elected 2020)

445

3.

Maryellen Goodwin

District 1 (Elected 1986)

427

4.

Michael McCaffrey

District 29 (Elected 1994)

384

Swipe left to see ratings

#SenatorDistScoreCR%'20 P'20 G'18 P'18 G'16 P'16 G
1Mack66991002079----
2DiMario364451005000---
3Goodwin14275058X52XX66
4McCaffrey2938467163232XX29
5Archambault22328831822429X16
6Valverde3527675X12688--
7Sosnowski37270502139XXX18
8Cano823050X44X46--
9de la Cruz2322175X34211--
10Bell52125045X0X--
11Lawson1419950X4516X--
12Burke9138100218----
13Mendes181015024X----
14Murray249750XX3818--
15Kallman15925022X----
16Felag108633X28XXX38
17Gallo277950X10X22X12
18Paolino177650X18X2X2
19Anderson316010009----
20Calkin30596010X0-X4
21Ciccone75833XX40X8X
22Miller285617X41XXXX
23Morgan344950X8X8X10
24DiPalma123933XXX32X22
25Coyne323833XXX36X8
26Euer133125XXX44--
27Lombardi263017X22XXXX
28Lombardo252933XXX19X32
29Seveney112533XXX24X4
30Pearson192233XXX18X12
31Ruggerio4171710XXXXX
32Picard201217XXX24XX
33Raptakis331133XXX10X4
34Quezada2117XXXX4X
35Goldin300XXXXXX
36Acosta160500X----
37Rogers21025XXX0--
38Algiere3800XXXXXX

Level of Competitiveness

Very High Good Low

Key


Uncontested


Did Not Run

How We Rank

Score is the cumulative total of the member's election victory margins ('20 Prim/'20 Gen/'18 Prim/'18 Gen/'16 Prim/'16 Gen) multiplied by a recency factor plus deductions for uncontested races and races in which they did not participate. Recency factor gives higher weight to more recent elections and to primaries, and was applied as follows: 2020 Primary: 10, 2020 General: 8, 2018 Primary: 4, 2018 General: 3, 2016 Primary: 2, 2016 General: 1. If a member had contested elections in every race they participated in and ran in all 3 of the last election cycles, this would be their final score.

A deduction was applied based on the member's Contested Races Percentage (CR%), which is the percent of races the member has run in where they had at least one declared opponent. To calculate the deduction, the total cumulative victory margin was multiplied by the CR%. For example, if the total cumulative victory margin was 200 and member had contested races 50% of the time, their adjusted score would be 100.

A smaller deduction was applied based on the number of races, out of the 6 measured, that the member has run in. Deductions were applied as follows for races in which the member was not a candidate: 2018 Primary: 5%, 2018 General: 5%, 2016 Primary: 3%, 2016 General: 3%.

It is important to reiterate that Election Strength is not a good measure of a member's job performance and these scores will not count towards the member's overall rankings. Members with scores 300+ are considered "Very competitive", scores between 50 - 299 are "Reasonably competitive", and scores below 50 are considered "Not competitive". The maximum possible score is 2660 (albeit a theoretical impossibility). The lowest possible score is 0.


House Rankings

1.

Grace Diaz

District 11 (Elected 2004)

835

2.

Rebecca Kislak

District 4 (Elected 2018)

683

3.

Michelle McGaw

District 71 (Elected 2020)

585

4.

Terri Cortvriend

District 72 (Elected 2018)

548

Swipe left to see ratings

#RepDistScoreCR%'20 P'20 G'18 P'18 G'16 P'16 G
1Diaz1183567457338X30X
2Kislak468375X753675--
3McGaw715851006012----
4Cortvriend72548756216X10--
5Williams947667X4734618X
6Donovan6946083X166010780
7Fogarty354536752XX401016
8McNamara19391672426X38X22
9Ruggiero743885073XX14X4
10Ranglin-Vassell535467X49X24260
11Felix613391001828----
12Kennedy38332673016X20X8
13Serpa273116736XX241012
14Tanzi342275042XX102X
15Potter16222100208----
16Perez131825034X0X12X
17Chippendale4018150X32X22X40
18McEntee3316750XX6024X22
19Quattrocchi4116350X30X28X2
20Speakman6815450X19440--
21Lombardi81361780XXXXX
22Biah31265030X----
23Nardone2812050X16320--
24Barros5911433XX74XX48
25Knight6710550XXX491238
26Carson7510433X38XXX12
27Henries641015024X----
28Kazarian6310033XX68XX30
29Lima499450X28----
30Batista12925022X----
31Cassar669150XX2827--
32Marszalkowski528367X2X18246
33Hull67517X55XXXX
34Tobon586733XX38XX50
35Vella-Wilkinson216533X19X1500
36Fenton-Fung156050X18----
37Azzinaro375317X39XXXX
38Solomon, Jr.225250X5XX1828
39Fellela435033X17XXX16
40Price393850X4X8X20
41Morgan263750X9--X11
42Edwards703317X24XXXX
43Craven323233XXX28X12
44Shanley243033XXX28X8
45Abney732617XXX50XX
46Roberts292533XXX22X10
47Phillips512217XXX44XX
48Caldwell301850X4X2--
49Bennett201733XXX12X16
50Noret251725XXX24--
51Hawkins531650X2X6--
52Place471433XXX14X0
53Blazejewski21217XXXXX70
54O'Brien541117XXXX32X
55Cardillo42750X2----
56Ajello1617XXXXX36
57Casimiro31317XXXXX16
58Morales70500X----
59Slater1000XXXXXX
60Lima1400XXXXXX
61Baginski1700XX----
62Handy1800XXXXXX
63Shekarchi2300XXXXXX
64Filippi3600XXXXXX
65Costantino4400XXXXXX
66Ackerman45017XXXXX0
67Shallcross-Smith46050X0----
68Newberry4800XXXXXX
69Casey5000XXXXXX
70Corvese5500XXXXXX
71Giraldo5600XX----
72McLaughlin5700XXXXXX
73Alzate6000XXXX--
74Messier6200XXXXXX
75Amore6500XXXXXX

Level of Competitiveness

Very High Good Low

Key


Uncontested


Did Not Run

How We Rank

Score is the cumulative total of the member's election victory margins ('20 Prim/'20 Gen/'18 Prim/'18 Gen/'16 Prim/'16 Gen) multiplied by a recency factor plus deductions for uncontested races and races in which they did not participate. Recency factor gives higher weight to more recent elections and to primaries, and was applied as follows: 2020 Primary: 10, 2020 General: 8, 2018 Primary: 4, 2018 General: 3, 2016 Primary: 2, 2016 General: 1. If a member had contested elections in every race they participated in and ran in all 3 of the last election cycles, this would be their final score.

A deduction was applied based on the member's Contested Races Percentage (CR%), which is the percent of races the member has run in where they had at least one declared opponent. To calculate the deduction, the total cumulative victory margin was multiplied by the CR%. For example, if the total cumulative victory margin was 200 and member had contested races 50% of the time, their adjusted score would be 100.

A smaller deduction was applied based on the number of races, out of the 6 measured, that the member has run in. Deductions were applied as follows for races in which the member was not a candidate: 2018 Primary: 5%, 2018 General: 5%, 2016 Primary: 3%, 2016 General: 3%.

It is important to reiterate that Election Strength is not a good measure of a member's job performance and these scores will not count towards the member's overall rankings. Members with scores 300+ are considered "Very competitive", scores between 50 - 299 are "Reasonably competitive", and scores below 50 are considered "Not competitive". The maximum possible score is 2660 (albeit a theoretical impossibility). The lowest possible score is 0.