Congressional Elections


While congressional elections may not capture the national imagination in same way that presidential elections do, they are just as important. These elections should determine the membership and direction of Congress, which was intended to be the branch "first among equals" in our national government. Too often, however, congressional elections are  uncompetitive, leaving voters disenchanted, with little power too choose their representation, and few reasons to turn out to vote. 

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Monopoly Politics

FairVote’s Monopoly Politics reports present in-depth analysis of U.S. House elections and the structural origins of the polarization, partisan bias, and striking lack of competition that plague Congressional politics. The report also lays out a detailed national reform plan to illustrate how adoption of the RCV Act would address these problems and empower all voters to have their voices heard on Election Day.

Accompanying the report are projections for US House races, which illustrate the absence of meaningful competition in nearly all of these elections.

Dubious Democracy

First issued in 1994 and issued every two years thereafter, Dubious Democracy provides a comprehensive quantitative assessment of the level of competition, rate of voter participation, and accuracy of representation in elections to the U.S. House of Representatives in all 50 states. With analysis of data since 1982, the report ranks each state on a "democracy index" that is a relative measurement based on average margin of victory, percentage of seats to votes, how many voters elect candidates and number of House races won by overwhelming landslides.

Dubious Democracy provides one overriding insight: Although our constitutional framers gave the House of Representatives extraordinary powers and, of all the branches of government, the clearest accountability to the American people, that accountability has been destroyed beyond recognition by winner-take-all election rules that magnify the power of campaign spending, incumbency advantage and redistricting.

Dubious Democracy 2018

Dubious Democracy 2018 highlights the chronic lack of competition and accountability in 2018 U.S. House elections across the nation. Overall 9.3% of House races were uncontested, and 60.6% were landslide victories. The average two party margin of victory was over 36 points.


Click the links below to find our past Dubious Democracy datasets.

Dubious Democracy 2018

Dubious Democracy 2016

Dubious Democracy 2014

Dubious Democracy 2012

Dubious Democracy 2010

Dubious Democracy 2008

Click the link below to see 1982-2010 data presented state-by-state.
Our eighth installment of Dubious Democracy in 2010 provided a comprehensive overview of the level of competition and accuracy of representation in U.S. House elections in all 50 states from 1982 to 2010. Read it on our former website in a user-friendly format:

Read the Report: Dubious Democracy 1982-2010

U.S. Senate Vacancy Elections

The authority of our government is grounded in the power of the people to choose their representatives. No Member of the U.S. House of Representatives, "The People's House," has ever taken office without an election. The U.S. Senate is now also a house of the people. Though the 17th Amendment to the Constitution requires election of all senators, it also gives states the option to fill vacancies by gubernatorial appointment, and no federal mechanism exists to guarantee that all U.S. Senators – just as is the case for all U.S. House Members – serve via democratic processes. Since the passage of the 17th amendment, almost a quarter of all U.S. Senators who have ever served were originally appointed, and today about a quarter of the U.S. population is represented by at least one senator that no one voted for.

FairVote believes that all Members of Congress, in both houses, should be solely accountable to the voters of their states and districts, not to a sole individual with his or her own personal and political agenda. Instead of filling vacancies through shady backroom deals, seats in the U.S. Senate should be filled, in all circumstances, by direct election.


infogram_0_state_by_state_senate_vacancy_proceduresSTATE-BY-STATE SENATE VACANCY PROCEDURES//

FairVote Resources on Elections for Senate Vacancies

FairVote op-eds and commentary

Media coverage citing FairVote research

Press releases

Other resources

  • Text of SJ 7, Proposing an amendment to the Constitution of the United States relative to the election of Senators.
  • FairVote analyst David Segal's testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee on behalf of SJ 7

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