Who Runs for Mayor in America?
Political observers’ assumptions about local election trends are often based on anecdotes, incomplete observation or simply conventional wisdom. However, the Kinder Institute for Urban Research and its Center for Local Elections in American Politics offer a first-of-its-kind way to analyze elections. In this report we examine data on municipal elections in six states — California, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, Minnesota and Virginia — to investigate who runs for mayor and the characteristics of those contests. We focus on these states in part because they are states for which we have comprehensive data on mayoral elections over time, but also because they provide a good representation of the regional, demographic and institutional variation of cities in the United states.Several characteristics vary by state across the six states in our analysis: candidate competition, incumbency, and the prevalence of women and minority candidates among mayoral office seekers differ depending on state. Additionally, we find differences in degree of competition, gender, and race across city size and city type. These results provide an in-depth look at the details of mayoral elections across these states and provide the best insight to date about who runs for mayor in America.
About half of all mayoral elections in the states analyzed feature only one candidate, according to this report that examines 17 years-worth of elections across six states.