America should strive together for a less polarized society (Newsweek)

Noah Lindell
Aug 24, 2017
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CLC Fellow, Noah Lindell, had an op-ed published in Newsweek. The op-ed discussed the sources behind the disturbing increase in uncontested races and the danger they pose to democracy. 

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Uncontested races have been on the rise since the 1970s. But the problem has begun to accelerate lately, particularly in state house races. The numbers are even worse in local elections, where candidate name recognition is lower, fewer people vote, and challengers have higher barriers to entry.

All of these uncontested races lead to unaccountable elected officials. It becomes impossible to know if candidates won because the voters like them and their policy views or merely because potential opponents didn’t want to run.

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With the most recent round of redistricting, the number of uncontested races jumped. On average, 42 percent of state legislators saw no major-party competition from 2012 to 2016—ten points higher than in 2010.

Another factor is our campaign finance system, which favors big donors. Among incumbents’ many advantages is their control over government functions, which attracts large donors who hope to influence them. Without a competing source of funds, potential challengers will not spend months campaigning—especially in lopsided jurisdictions where they do not think they will win.

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