RI House Election Strength Rankings - 2020

See which State Representatives have been the most competitive in recent elections

How We Measured Election Strength

Earlier this month we released our Senate Election Strength Rankings which highlighted a very high number of uncontested races. Just 4 of 38 Senators were battle-tested enough to earn our "Very Competitive" designation. Now our House results are in, and the picture is even more dire - 76% of House incumbents in the last primary had no opponent. Seventy Six Percent. And 64% of all House elections over the past 6 years, whether primary or general election, were uncontested.  In 2018, just 8 of 75 State House Reps had an opponent in both the primary and general election. Uncontested elections not only allow subpar legislators to hold their jobs, but it allows those same legislators to build up campaign war chests of hundreds of thousands of dollars. When a challenger finally does come along, the incumbent is able to grossly outspend them, tilting the scale heavily in their favor.

Our inaugural 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 Representative'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 Senator's Overall Rankings. 

Uncontested elections are a problem nationwide and Rhode Island certainly holds its own in that category. Over the past 3 election cycles, 64% of all House elections went uncontested. Worse, 3 out of 4 House incumbents had no primary opponent in the last election, leaving constituents with nobody to ensure their Representative sticks to their promises. Other figures we pulled covering the last 3 election cycles:

Percent of uncontested primary election races (last 6 years):

65%

Percent of uncontested general election races (last 6 years):

51%

Percent of elections in the most recent primary (2018) that were uncontested:

76%

Scoring election strength is a unique endeavor and one in which we spent considerable time evaluating. We examined each Representative'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 were not counted unless it was the Representative's most recent race. The most recent election cycle is by far the most important one, and was given much higher weight. We also gave more weight to primary elections because, although seldom contested, they have been historically more competitive than general elections. 

In counting the margin of victory, we took the winner's percentage of votes and subtracted the total percentage of votes of all other declared candidates. In a couple of races, the winner received a minority of votes and in these instances the margin of victory was scored as "0". We did not score these in the negative because it would have implied that incumbents who went unopposed over the 6 years we covered are more competitive, which is impossible to know.

Lastly, two deductions were applied: One accounting for uncontested races with scores dropping based on the percentage of elections in which the Representative had no declared competition. For example, if a Representative had a contested election in 3 of the 6 races measured, they kept 50% of their combined margin of victory total. The second deduction was applied to Representatives who had not yet run in 2016 or 2014. This ratio affected scores less, but worked to account for the smaller track record these Representatives had overall.

Highest Election Strength Representatives

1.

Susan Donovan

District 69 (Elected 2016)

932

2.

Rebecca Kislak

District 4 (Elected 2018)

806

3.

Anastasia Williams

District 9 (Elected 1992)

618

4.

Carol McEntee

District 33 (Elected 2014)

605

Swipe left to see ratings

RepDistScoreCR%'18 P'18 G'16 P'16 G'14 P'14 G
Donovan699321006010780NN
Kislak48061003675NNNN
Williams96186734618XX62
McEntee33605756024X22NN
Barros594585074XX4816X
Tobon584236738XX501964
Cassar664171002827NNNN
Knight6739175X491238NN
Speakman68370100440NNNN
Fogarty3535583X401016216
Diaz112885038X30X38X
Ranglin-Vassell526875X24260NN
Kazarian632543368XX30XX
Almeida1221767X24X63446
Marszalkowski5218275X18246NN
Roberts2917867X22X10284
Chippendale4016650X22X40X36
Solomon, Jr.2215367XX18282228
McKiernan7142506XX707X
Nardone2813450320NNNN
Serpa2713450X241012XX
Quattrocchi4113460X28X20
Craven3213250X28X12X4
Johnston6113033X38X30XX
Price3912567X8X202414
McNamara1912233X38X22XX
Shanley2411750X28X8NN
Vella-Wilkinson218575X1500NN
Noret258150X24NNNN
Ajello17433XXX3658X
Abney736817X50XXXX
Kennedy386133X20X8XX
Phillips516017X44XXXX
Walsh3555010X4XNN
Place475350X14X0NN
Bennett204833X12X16XX
Tanzi344750X102XX6
Fellela434150XXX16146
Ruggiero744133X14X4XX
Blazejewski23617XXX70XX
Cortvriend723450X10NNNN
Messier622833XXXX2240
Mendez1325506XNNNN
Millea162350X6X0NN
O'Brien542217XX32XXX
Jackson26205006NNNN
Hawkins532050X6NNNN
Carson751733XXX127X
Casimiro311633XXX16X0
McLaughlin571617XXXX46X
Slater101417XXXX40X
Mattiello151333X5X0XX
Canario711333XXX10X10
Caldwell30750X2NNNN
Newberry48617XXXXX36
Handy18517XXXXX32
Costantino44517XXXXX28
Filippi36320XXXXN18
Azzinaro37117XXXXX8
Casey50117XXXXX6
Hull600XXXXXX
Lombardi800XXXXXX
Lima1400XXXXXX
Jacquard1700XXXXXX
Shekarchi2300XXXXXX
Ucci4200XXXXXX
Ackerman45017XXX0XX
Lyle, Jr.46050X0NNNN
Morin4900XXXXXX
Corvese5500XXXXXX
*None*5600NNNNNN
Alzate6000XXNNNN
Serodio640500XNNNN
Amore6500XXXXXX
Edwards7000XXXXXX

Level of Competitiveness

Very High Reasonable Very Low

Key


Uncontested


Did Not Run

How We Rank

Score is the cumulative total of the Representative's election victory margins ('18 Prim/'18 Gen/'16 Prim/'16 Gen/'14 Prim/'14 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: 2018 Primary: 10, 2018 General: 8, 2016 Primary: 4, 2016 General: 3, 2014 Primary: 2, 2014 General: 1. If a Representative 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 Representative's Contested Races Percentage (CR%), which is the percent of races the Representative 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 Representative 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 Representative has run in. Deductions were applied as follows for races in which the Representative was not a candidate: 2016 Primary: 5%, 2016 General: 5%, 2014 Primary: 3%, 2014 General: 3%.

It is important to reiterate that Election Strength is not a good measure of a Representative's job performance and these scores will not count towards the Representative's overall rankings. Representatives with scores above 250 are considered "Very competitive", scores between 100 - 249 are "Reasonably competitive", and scores below 100 are considered "Not competitive". The maximum possible score in this version is 2660 (albeit a theoretical impossibility). The lowest possible score is 0.