Success of congressional incumbents has become something of a half-funny joke recently. These are the figures for those Representatives who sought reelection in the 13 biennial national elections for 435 U.S. House seats from 1982 through 2006: 95.17% of incumbents who sought reelection were successful. What's more, an average of 396 of the 435 incumbent seat holders sought another term, leaving only 39 "open seats" each biennium for new Members of Congress (Jacobson 2008, 28-29). You can see these effects graphically via thirty-thousand.org - Reelection Rates of Incumbents in the U. S. House, and Duration of Representatives’ Incumbency in the U. S. House. Rounding the 4.83% of winning challengers to 19 freshmen, another 39 get there the easy way by filling a seat vacated by a departing incumbent. So about two-thirds (39 of 58) of freshmen only get there from good fortune of facing no incumbent.
The Senate has not been much better: 86.98% of incumbents were winners in the 1982-to-2006 period. Only 33.3 Senate seats on average are up each biennium (a first 33, another 33, then 34 to tally 100; and back to the first 33). In the 13 elections of 1982 to 2006, that's 433 senators who could seek reelection; and 361 of them did so, leaving just 82 vacated open seats for new senators. By rounding the 13.02% of challengers who broke through against incumbents to 38 freshmen, that's 85 of 113 freshmen who got there by virtue of avoiding a collision with a senatorial incumbent. And in 2006, there were 6 incumbent senatorial losers, all Republicans. At least one, George Allen of Virginia, was a surprising loser considering that he was prominent among those expected to contend seriously for the 2008 Republican presidential nomination. All that's gone now.
It's no better at the state level; take New Jersey:The year 2008 was no change in these numbers. You can see turnover and defeats in the House here: United States House of Representatives elections, 2008 - retiring incumbents. The 435 members of the 110th House of 2007-08 mostly ran for reelection, with just 33 incumbents retiring, leaving 402 up for election in November 2008. Of those, 23 lost (4 in primaries, 19 in general election) and 379 won, producing a reelection rate of 94.28%.
Redistricting tie-breaker Alan Rosenthal’s decision to support a legislative redistricting map drawn up by Democratic commission members can be summed up in two words: status quo.
Rosenthal’s decision yesterday makes it likely not only that Democrats will continue to hold their majorities in both the state Senate and the state Assembly in next November’s election, but also that 90 percent of incumbent legislators will be reelected with relatively little difficulty. [emphasis mine]These are the same loudmouths who rail on and on that teaching amounts to a "job for life." That, of course, is utter nonsense; the turnover rate in teaching is far, far higher than the turnover rate for elective office.
These people are hypocrites, but they are also completely shameless. That's why so many want a massive testing regime for our kids, but not their own. You can't convince them with reason; you have to publicly embarrass them into doing the right thing.
I know that makes some of you queasy, but I have to be honest: it's the only way we will win. Deal with it.