Document Type


Publication Date



A growing literature has revealed a notable electoral advantage for congressional and gubernatorial candidates with deep local roots in their home districts or states. However, there is a dearth of research on the presence and impact of local roots in state legislative races. In this paper, we close that gap by demonstrating the consistent and significant electoral impacts that state legislators’ local roots have on their reelection efforts. We use data capturing a representative cross-section of state legislative incumbents (N = ~5,000) and calculate a novel index measuring the depth of their local roots modeled after Hunt’s (2022, Home Field Advantage: Roots, Reelection, and Representation in the Modern Congress) measure for the US House. We present evidence that state legislators with deep local roots in the districts they represent run unopposed in their general elections nearly twice as often as incumbents with no such roots. Of those who do attract challengers in their reelection efforts, deeply rooted incumbents enjoy an average of three extra percentage points of vote share. Our results have important implications for candidate emergence in state legislative elections during a time when so many are uncontested. They also demonstrate the limits of electoral nationalization for understanding state politics.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.