Competitiveness in State Supreme Court Elections, 1946-2009

23 Pages Posted: 20 May 2011

Date Written: June 2011


There has been much debate over changes in state supreme court elections. However, most of the research that debate refers to considers a relatively short timespan. This article reports an analysis of contestation and competitiveness in state supreme court elections for the entire post World War II period. The article considers both primary and general elections (other than retention elections). The central finding of the article is that outside the South there has been surprisingly little change, either in whether incumbents are challenged for reelection or in the competitiveness of the elections that are contested (looking separately at open-seat elections and elections involving incumbents). The analysis suggests that the apparent increase in competitiveness (taken to include the question of whether an incumbent is challenged), at least through 2009, reflects factors other than changes in the nature of campaigns and expenditures on state supreme court elections; specifically, those changes largely result from the end of the one-party South.

Suggested Citation

Kritzer, Herbert M., Competitiveness in State Supreme Court Elections, 1946-2009 (June 2011). Journal of Empirical Legal Studies, Vol. 8, Issue 2, pp. 237-259, 2011, Available at SSRN: or

Herbert M. Kritzer (Contact Author)

University of Minnesota Law School ( email )

229 19th Avenue South
Minneapolis, MN 55455
United States

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