Posted by Will Mantell on July 05, 2022 at 5:00 PM


Contact: Will Mantell, [email protected]

Fewest Votes Wins: 56 Statewide and Congressional Primaries Won With Less Than 50% of the Vote 

Midway through primary season, new analysis ranks “least representative” candidates that have won primaries 

July 5, 2022 – A new FairVote analysis finds that so far, 56 candidates have won 2022 congressional and statewide primaries with less than 50% of the vote, including 20 candidates who have won with less than one-third of the vote. Under our current voting system, a candidate can win an election with far less than 50% of the vote, meaning a majority of voters voted for someone other than the winner. Ranked choice voting would ensure candidates win with a majority and represent more voters’ choices. 

To date, 32 states have held all or some primaries. The 20 primary winners with the fewest votes are listed below, along with the percentage of primary voters who voted for them: or visual contentflourish-embed-iframe0nowidth:100%;height:600px;allow-same-origin allow-forms allow-scripts allow-downloads allow-popups allow-popups-to-escape-sandbox allow-top-navigation-by-user-activation

“The current system is failing voters, most obviously in the 90 percent of districts that are so partisan that the election is decided in the primary. The winner is chosen by only a fraction of a fraction of the electorate,” said Rob Richie, President and CEO of FairVote, a nonpartisan organization seeking better elections. “Ranked choice voting takes on this problem, by ensuring a candidate wins a majority of votes against their top opponent without a separate runoff. Ranked choice voting dramatically improves voter representation, and makes for stronger candidates coming out of primaries. For all these reasons, ranked choice voting is the fastest-growing nonpartisan voting reform in the country.” 

Ranked choice voting is now used in 55 cities and states with 14 million people. The list of all 56 candidates who’ve won 2022 primaries with less than 50% of the vote is available online

Many of these “least representative” candidates are heavily favored to win their general elections in non-competitive states or districts, meaning they’ve essentially secured an office by winning a primary in which the majority of voters voted for someone else. 

Additionally, while many of the candidates currently winning crowded fields with 25 or 30 percent of the vote might also win a ranked choice voting primary, they’d go into the general election benefiting from much broader support, more voter buy-in, and likely a more positive primary campaign. 


FairVote is a nonpartisan organization seeking better elections for all. We research and advance voting reforms that make democracy more functional and representative for every American.

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