Most Statewide Elections Will Go Uncontested in Missouri Today

Nearly 57 percent of state legislative races won't have two major political party candidates

click to enlarge A woman with a blue surgical mask fills out a ballot behind a white "vote here" sign as her son watches from behind.
Monica Obradovic
Allisa Simril shows her 8-year-old son, Jonathan Trotter, how to fill in a ballot while voting at the University City recreational complex on April 5.

The majority of statewide elections in Missouri will go uncontested by a major political party this Tuesday.

Nearly 57 percent of state legislative races won't have both a Democrat and Republican competing, according to data from Ballotpedia. About 16 percent of those races have just a Democratic candidate, while 41 percent have just a Republican. That means less than half, 43 percent, of races are contested by two major-party candidates.

The rate of uncontested elections has risen in Missouri in recent years, with a 7 percent jump from 2020's rate of 50 percent. It is the highest percentage of uncontested races in Missouri since 2016 when 58 percent of elections didn’t have two major political party opponents.

Missouri's lack of contested statewide races is part of a larger trend in the United States. Nationwide, there are nearly 6,278 state legislative seats up for grabs during the 2022 cycle. But nearly 42 percent of those seats will go uncontested, an increase from 2018, when only about 34 percent of seats failed to offer both Democratic and Republican candidates.

Alabama and Massachusetts have the highest rate of statewide elections without two major party candidates in 2022, with 77 percent and 74 percent of races uncontested, respectively.

In an interview with the Center Square, Peverill Squire, a political science professor at the University of Missouri, pointed toward heavily partisan districts, the cost of running a campaign and the payment of government employees as reasons for the rate of uncontested elections. He suggested bumping down the statewide senate seats from 163 to 99.

But he also expressed surprise with the results, especially in Missouri.

"I think the big shock for this particular election is that you expect after the district lines have been redrawn after 10 years, you would see some competition because things have been juggled a bit," Squire told Center Square. "It's a surprise this year in Missouri that after the lines were redrawn in bipartisan fashion it hasn't generated much competition."

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