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In the 2012 primary season, 42 incumbent Republican legislators had a primary challenge, and 10 lost—a 24 percent “loss-rate” for GOP incumbents. Yet of the 11 Republican incumbents Texans for Fiscal Responsibility participated in challenging, 55 percent were defeated. This wasn’t an anti-incumbent election season; it was a policy wave.

First, and most importantly, elections are not won by outside groups. Wins are the result of qualified candidates and motivated voters. Our small role is to help inform those citizens about the records and positions of their incumbents and candidates.

Here’s the great civic caution: engagement in elections is meaningless if the end-result isn’t improved public policies. And 2012 shows us that Texas’ GOP voters want bold action on fiscal policy.

Elections as an indicator of policy preference? That’s a scary thought to establishment’s big-spending elites. After all, 94 percent of Republican primary voters said they want local and state government to be strictly limited to no more than the sum growth rates of inflation and population.

Now some in the press, like the Houston Chronicle, would have us believe the season’s retirements-in-advance-of-defeat and primary-defeats were an aberration, or an unusually strong “anti-incumbent” mood among primary voters. That’s lazy journalism.

The numbers just don’t bear it out. (Check out the chart below.)

Of incumbents challenged in primaries (50 in all), 20 percent were defeated. That’s lower than in the previous three election cycles. In 2010, 29 percent of challenged incumbents (28) lost in challenged primaries, while 28 percent (32) lost in 2008. In 2006, 23 percent of challenged incumbents (35) lost in their primaries.

Looking only at the GOP, 24 percent of challenged incumbents lost in 2012. In 2010, it was 14 percent of challenged GOP incumbents, 26 percent in 2008 and 23 percent in 2006.

So 2012 was a pretty typical year, anti-incumbent-wise … unless the taxpayers were against them.

In such cases, as noted above, 55 percent of the incumbents challenged by a TFR-endorsed candidate were defeated! Taxpayers are looking for better representation, and demanding substantive policy outcomes.

The real story is that voters are looking for conservatives who will take bold action and not be held captive by the spend-more crowd in Austin. Voters want meaningful action on core issues, like the Texas Budget Compact.

GOP incumbents who stand in their way? Watch out: Texans are just 18 months from the next primary!

GOP
Incumbents Challenged
GOP
Incumbents
Lose
DEM
Incumbents
Challenged
DEM
Incumbents
Lose
Total
Incumbents
Challenged
Total
Incumbents
Lose
2012 42 10 (24%) 8 0 50 10 (20%)
2010 20 3 (14%) 8 5 (62%) 28 8 (29%)
2008 19 5 (26%) 13 4 (31%) 32 9 (28%)
2006 22 5 (23%) 13 3 (23%) 35 8 (23%)