Winning percentage of runoff candidates who finished 15% or more ahead of their challenger in the primary election, since 2002.

There have been 144 “open” primary runoff elections for statewide, legislative, Board of Education and federal offices since 2002 (“Open” means excluding an incumbent. We address them below.). In general, the candidate who received a plurality vote has won more often (61%) than the candidate playing from behind (39%). There have been strong variations to that overall trend based on two numbers from the primary: the plurality candidate’s share of the vote and the margin between that candidate and the other runoff candidate.

Since 2002, candidates receiving a plurality vote in excess of 40% have won 70% of their runoff races. Candidates whose plurality vote was 40% or less have gone on to win just 53% of the time. Historical runoff winning percentages wobble dramatically when the margin between the candidates is also considered.

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