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Hoosiers lead country in contested congressional elections

Indiana ranks first nationally in giving voters a choice of major-party candidates for U.S. House seats, according to a study by the University of Minnesota.

Indiana has seen Democratic and Republican candidates in every House election since 1978 – a total of 180 contested races.

“Interestingly, Democrats have won 90 of these and the GOP has won 90,” Eric Ostermeier said Thursday in an email.

Ostermeier is research associate at the Center for the Study of Politics and Governance at the university’s Humphrey School of Public Affairs. He writes Smart Politics, a non-partisan political news site that conducted the study.

“The last time voters in Indiana did not have two major party candidates in a congressional race was in 1976 when Democrat Lee Hamilton ran unopposed in the state’s 9th CD contest en route to his seventh of 17 terms,” Ostermeier wrote in the study.

New Hampshire is second to Indiana with 175 consecutive contested House elections, although its string goes all the way back in 1856. But New Hampshire has only two congressional districts, compared with Indiana’s nine (and as many as 11 in 1978).

Other less-populous states have long streaks of contested congressional elections in every district. Delaware’s began in 1888, Wyoming’s in 1890, Montana’s in 1898 and Idaho’s in 1902.

The Smart Politics study found that 16 states, including Ohio, had uncontested congressional elections in 2012.