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Money and Incumbency: Advantages in State Legislative Races, 2004

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An analysis of all state legislative races held in 2004, 2003, 2002 and 2001 showed that a dramatic percentage of winners were the candidates who raised the most money for their seat or were unopposed in their races. On average, about 85 percent of winners raised the most money in their races. The percentage of winners with the advantage of being an incumbent legislator was high in the 2002 election cycle and increased in the 2004 election cycle. Generally speaking, 70 to 80 percent of legislative winners have an incumbency advantage. Less than 7 percent of state-level candidates are able to win a state legislative seat without having either a fund-raising advantage or already holding office