Dean Heller versus history

Sen. Dean Heller was the 189th individual, and the fifth Nevadan, to join the U.S. Senate via appointment since 1913. What are the odds he will win election to the seat in his own right?

Eric Ostermeier, a political scientist associated with the University of Minnesota, studied appointed senators in an essay posted here.

Ostermeier’s analysis of the 188 appointed senators (before Heller) since the 17th Amendment introduced direct Senate elections "finds that just 62 were elected to the office for the seat’s subsequent special or general election, or just 33 percent of all appointees."

"Heller’s odds aren’t quite so bleak," Ostermeier wrote. Appointed senators who chose to run for election and won their party’s nomination — which seems certainly more than likely to be the case for the Nevada Republican — had a slightly less than 2-1 chance (65 percent) to keep the seat.

History aside, Heller "is anything but a safe incumbent," considering he also faces an unrestful electorate and an energetic opponent in Democratic Rep. Shelley Berkley, the analyst wrote.

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