Endorsements in school board elections, 2023

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School Board Endorsements
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State-specific analyses:
ColoradoKansasMinnesotaOhioOklahomaPennsylvaniaSouth DakotaVirginiaWashingtonWisconsin

School board elections by state:

Previous coverage:
Conflicts in school board elections

Ballotpedia covered every 2023 school board election in the following 10 states: Colorado, Kansas, Ohio, Oklahoma, Minnesota, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, Virginia, Washington, and Wisconsin. These 10 states held 5,254 elections for 8,758 school board seats.

Throughout 2023, Ballotpedia captured, tracked, and analyzed 9,675 endorsements across 3,891 candidates, representing 30% of the 12,834 candidates in this analysis.

Most school board elections nationwide are nonpartisan, meaning candidates appear on the ballot without party labels. Endorsements provide voters with helpful information regarding candidates' stances and policy positions.

In terms of total endorsements made, state and local affiliates of the Democratic and Republican Parties issued the most, with 1,418 and 1,369, respectively.

Among the top 10 endorsers, seven were liberal, and three were conservative. The top liberal endorsers had a 68% win rate in contested elections, on average, compared to a 48% win rate among the top conservative endorsers.

Most winning candidates received no endorsements. Of the 8,758 seats up for election, candidates with no endorsements won 73%, followed by liberal candidates with 15%, and conservative candidates with 11%.

There were five states where Ballotpedia identified the party affiliations of all school board candidates. Of the 4,901 seats up for election in those states, Republicans won 64%, and Democrats won 29%. Around 80% of all school board seats up for election in these states were in districts where Republicans made up a majority or plurality of voters.

Of the 8,758 seats up for election, 53% were uncontested. Kansas, Minnesota, Ohio, and Pennsylvania were the only states that had more contested than uncontested seats.

Other findings include:

  • 32% of seats were open, meaning no incumbents ran. That was average compared to Ballotpedia's historical school board election coverage.
  • 15% of incumbent lost, also average compared to historical data.
  • When looking only at incumbents in contested elections, the loss rate increased to 32%, which was above average compared to historical data.

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After each general election, Ballotpedia analyzed various electoral trends at the school board level in each of the 10 states included in this report. These analyses also examine election results through the lens of the endorsements made during the race and partisan affiliations of candidates, where that information is available.

Click the links below to view analyses by state:


Throughout 2023, Ballotpedia captured, tracked, and analyzed endorsements in school board elections across these 10 states. Full lists of all endorsements made in these elections can be found in the state-specific analyses here.

Ballotpedia identified 2,516 endorsers who issued 9,675 endorsements across 3,891 candidates, representing 30% of the 12,834 candidates included in this analysis.

Top endorsers

This section covers the top 10 endorsers Ballotpedia identified in terms of the total number of endorsements made. This list only includes endorsers that issued endorsements in at least two states covered in this analysis, with those endorsements coming from either the endorser or a state or local affiliate of that endorser.

The table below includes a hoverable column with information about each endorser, the number of candidates they endorsed, and the number of endorsees who won, both in terms of all endorsees and among only those in contested elections.[1] The number of states where these endorsers were present is included in parentheses. These totals only include those candidates who received an endorsement and appeared on the general election ballot.

Top school board endorsers, 2023
Endorser Info All Contested
Endorsees Won % Lost % Endorsees Won % Lost %
Democratic Party (9) About 1,418 1,060 74.8% 358 25.2% 1,133 775 68.4% 358 31.6%
Republican Party (10) About 1,369 786 57.4% 583 42.6% 1,199 616 51.4% 583 48.6%
National Education Association (9) About 533 388 72.8% 145 27.2% 497 352 70.8% 145 29.2%
Moms for Liberty (10) About 210 93 44.3% 117 55.7% 198 81 40.9% 117 59.1%
Everytown for Gun Safety (7) About 200 136 68.0% 64 32.0% 187 123 65.8% 64 34.2%
AFL-CIO (8) About 195 136 69.7% 59 30.3% 177 118 66.7% 59 33.3%
1776 Project PAC (5) About 166 93 56.0% 73 44.0% 153 80 52.3% 73 47.7%
Red Wine and Blue (3) About 13 8 101 73.2% 37 26.8% 137 100 73.0% 37 27.0%
Indivisible Project (4) About 51 32 62.7% 19 37.3% 50 31 62.0% 19 38.0%
National Women's Political Caucus (3) About 50 36 72.0% 14 28.0% 46 32 69.6% 14 30.4%

Election results

Of the 10 states in this analysis, nine held nonpartisan school board elections. Pennsylvania's school board elections were partisan, though the state also allows candidates to cross-file, so they can appear on the ballot with multiple party labels.

In all 10 states, Ballotpedia identified ideological leans for every candidate who received endorsements based on the positions and policies supported by those endorsers. In five states—Colorado, Kansas, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, and South Dakota—Ballotpedia used publicly available voter files to identify each candidate's party affiliation.

This analysis identified three types of elections:

  • Uncontested, where the number of candidates on the ballot was less than or equal to the number of seats up for election, guaranteeing victory;
  • Contested intra-ideological/intra-party, where there was a contested election, but every candidate had the same ideological lean or party affiliation; and
  • Contested inter-ideological/inter-party, where there was a contested election between candidates with differing ideological leans or party affiliations.

Ideological results

This section shows election results through the lens of endorsements candidates received.

These 10 states held 5,254 elections for 8,758 school board seats.

  • Candidates with a liberal ideological lean won 1,305 seats (15%)
  • Candidates with a conservative ideological lean won 995 seats (11%)
  • Candidates with a mixed ideological lean won 66 seats (1%)
  • Candidates with some other ideological lean won seven seats (0%)
  • Candidates who received no endorsements won 6,385 seats (73%)

The table below shows how many seats were won by candidates of the given ideological lean or who did not receive any endorsements.

School board election winners by ideological lean, 2023
Ideology Uncontested Contested intra-ideological Contested inter-ideological Total
# % # % # % # %
Liberal 341 3.9% 54 0.6% 910 10.4% 1,305 14.9%
Conservative 254 2.9% 37 0.4% 704 8.0% 995 11.4%
Mixed 2 0.0% 0 0.0% 64 0.7% 66 0.8%
Other 3 0.0% 0 0.0% 4 0.0% 7 0.1%
No endorsements 4,030 46.0% 1,735 19.8% 620 7.1% 6,385 72.9%
Total 4,630 52.9% 1,826 20.8% 2,302 26.3% 8,758

Partisan results

This section shows election results through the lens of candidates' party affiliations. This information was only available in five of the ten states: Colorado, Kansas, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, and South Dakota.

These five states held 2,680 elections for 4,901 school board seats.

  • Registered Democrats won 1,411 seats (29%)
  • Registered Republicans won 3,144 seats (64%)
  • Registered independents or minor party candidates won 296 seats (6%)
  • Candidates whose affiliation could not be identified won 50 seats (1%)

The table below shows how many seats were won by candidates with the given party registration.

School board election winners by party affiliation, 2023
Party Uncontested Contested intra-party Contested inter-party Total
# % # % # % # %
Democrats 652 13.3% 64 1.3% 695 14.2% 1,411 28.8%
Republicans 1,686 34.4% 437 8.9% 1,021 20.8% 3,144 64.2%
Other 169 3.4% 7 0.1% 120 2.4% 296 6.0%
Unknown 43 0.9% 1 0.0% 6 0.1% 50 1.0%
Total 2,550 52.0% 509 10.4% 1,842 37.6% 4,901

In the states where each voter's party affiliation and school district appears in the voter file, Ballotpedia identified that Democratic and Republican wins primarily came from districts where those parties made up a majority or plurality of voters. This remained the case both in Pennsylvania, where school board elections are partisan, and in Kansas, Oklahoma, and South Dakota, where candidates' party affiliations do not appear on the ballot. Colorado's voter file provides party affiliation information but does not include voters' school districts, omitting the state from this level of analysis.

Of the 4,378 seats up for election in these four states, 817 (19%) were in Democratic-leaning districts, 3,525 (80%) were in Republican-leaning districts, and 36 (1%) were in districts with a plurality of unaffiliated voters.

Democrats won 79% of the seats in Democratic districts, and Republicans won 77% of the seats in Republican districts.

Click on the links here to view the partisan composition of every school district in Kansas, Oklahoma, South Dakota, and Pennsylvania

Election results by state

Uncontested elections

This analysis showed that of the 8,758 school board seats up for election in these 10 states, 4,630 (52.9%) were uncontested. An uncontested election is one where the number of candidates on the ballot is either less than or equal to the number of seats up for election, effectively guaranteeing victory.[2]

More than half of all school board seats up for election in Oklahoma, Washington, Wisconsin, Virginia, and Colorado were uncontested. Kansas, Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Minnesota had more contested than uncontested seats.


Open seats

Of the 8,758 seats Ballotpedia covered, incumbents ran for re-election to 5,946 (68%), leaving 2,812 seats open (32%). This open seat rate was average compared to Ballotpedia's regular coverage scope over the preceding six years.

Between 2018 and 2023, on average, Ballotpedia recorded a 31% open seat rate within its regular coverage scope.

Oklahoma had the lowest open seat rate at 20%. Minnesota had the highest at 51%, making it the only state with more open seats than seats with incumbents running for re-election.

Incumbents defeated

Overall, 5,979 incumbents ran for re-election in the states Ballotpedia covered. Of that total, 5,104 (85%) won, and 875 (15%) lost. This overall loss rate was average compared to Ballotpedia's regular coverage scope over the preceding six years.

Between 2018 and 2023, on average, Ballotpedia recorded a 17% overall loss rate within its regular coverage scope.

The overall figures include incumbents in contested and uncontested elections. In total, 54% of incumbents were uncontested in the 10 states Ballotpedia covered, compared to an average of 43% among Ballotpedia's historical coverage.

The percentage of incumbents defeated in these 10 states increases to 32% when looking only at the 2,736 incumbents in contested elections, those where an incumbent could have lost. This contested loss rate was above average compared to Ballotpedia's regular coverage scope over the preceding six years.

Between 2018 and 2022, on average, Ballotpedia recorded a 26% contested loss rate within its regular coverage scope.

Overall, Oklahoma had the lowest loss rate, with 9% of incumbents defeated, and South Dakota had the highest, with 28%, though South Dakota only holds contested elections. Virginia had the highest loss rate among states holding contested and uncontested elections at 20%.

Looking only at incumbents in contested elections, Minnesota had the lowest loss rate at 18%, and Virginia had the highest with 48% of contested incumbents defeated.

Election dates

The 2023 school board primary and general election dates in the 10 states included in this report are shown below. Colorado, South Dakota, and Virginia did not hold school board primaries.

School board election dates in select 10 states, 2023
State Primary General
Colorado - Nov. 7
Kansas Aug. 8 Nov. 7
Minnesota Aug. 8 Nov. 7
Ohio May 2 Nov. 7
Oklahoma Feb. 14 April 4
Pennsylvania May 16 Nov. 7
South Dakota[3] - April 11
May 9
May 16
June 6
June 20
Virginia - Nov. 7
Washington Aug. 1 Nov. 7
Wisconsin Feb. 21 April 4


Terms and definitions

Descriptive endorsements

This research focuses on descriptive endorsements, those that help describe the stances or policy positions of a candidate. This is based on the assumption that endorsers tend to endorse candidates holding one or multiple positions that align with those of the endorser. If an endorser's positions are not readily apparent, their endorsements are not considered descriptive endorsements.

Examples of endorsers whose endorsements might be considered descriptive include political parties, issue-based organizations with clear policy stances, unions, current or former elected officials, and current or former party officers.

Apart from this section, any mention of endorsements refers to descriptive endorsements.


An endorser is an individual or organization that has made a descriptive endorsement. Examples of which include, but are not limited to:


  • Elected or former partisan officials
  • Current or former party officers
  • Individuals associated with a clear policy stance


  • Unions
  • Issue-based organizations with clear policy stances
  • Political parties


Identifying endorsements

Ballotpedia gathers endorsements using four primary methods:

  • Submissions: Readers can submit endorsement information to Ballotpedia directly using this link. Ballotpedia staff reviews all submitted information daily to determine whether it warrants inclusion. Reader-submitted endorsements must include a link to a source verifying the endorsement to be included.
  • Candidate Connection Surveys: Candidates who complete Ballotpedia's Candidate Connection Survey are asked to share any endorsements they have received. Any submitted endorsements will appear in the candidate's survey responses. Ballotpedia staff also reviews every survey with endorsement information to determine whether those submissions include descriptive endorsements to add to our overall tracking process. Candidates are invited to submit links to sources for their endorsements, but this is not required.[4]
  • Outreach: Ballotpedia staff contacts endorsers directly to request endorsement lists. At the start of the election cycle, every endorser will receive an email requesting information. Ballotpedia staff also contacts endorsers to clarify information and, if we see they have endorsed one candidate, to determine whether they have also endorsed others.
  • Direct research: Ballotpedia staff conducts direct research, regularly checking all identified endorsers and relevant news media in each state. This research might also include looking at specific districts or candidates where endorsement activity appears likely.

Recording endorsements

Once an endorsement has been identified, it is recorded along with the date it was made (if known), a link to the source of the endorsement, and the date Ballotpedia staff learned of the endorsement. If possible, Ballotpedia archives every web source used to identify an endorsement.

For every recorded endorsement, Ballotpedia staff prepare a brief summary of the endorser. For individuals, this might include the party they are affiliated with, their statements regarding a particular policy, or their electoral history. For organizations, this might include the standards by which they issue endorsements, their mission statement, or any other statements regarding a particular policy. When available, Ballotpedia uses direct quotes from endorsers in these summaries, which appear beside each endorsement to provide added context to readers.


Ballotpedia tracks and gathers endorsement information throughout the election cycle. If a district holds primary elections, endorsements are only added on-site after the primary date.

Voter registration

While most school board elections are officially nonpartisan, meaning candidates appear on the ballot without party labels, the state makes voter registration information publicly available. Ballotpedia used this information to identify each candidate's party registration in Colorado, Kansas, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, and South Dakota. Note: a candidate's party registration status does not necessarily indicate the candidate's personal ideologies. Many voters register to vote with one party and later find themselves more aligned with another party but do not update their registration as such. Understanding that their registration information is effectively public, voters may also choose a certain registration or affiliate with no party, with that in mind.

Ballotpedia first compared candidate names and school districts to the publicly available voter file to tie candidates with their party registration. The associated voter information was logged if the candidate’s name only appeared once in the school district. If the candidate’s name appeared multiple times in a single school district, Ballotpedia looked at each voter file entry to match the registration address with other identifiable information associated with the candidate. This method accounted for all duplicate entries.

If a candidate was registered under a different name than the one they filed to run with (i.e. registered as Robert Smith but running as Bob Smith), Ballotpedia used a variety of methods to pinpoint the candidate’s voter file information including:

  • Looking for every person with the same last name as the candidate in the school district;
  • Identifying known associates (i.e. children, spouses), and using public records to determine if any households had changed addresses;
  • Utilizing publicly available social media information; or,
  • A mixture of these three approaches.

See also

Click on the tabs below for links to view all local elections covered by county:

Additional information:


  1. Contested elections refer to any with more candidates running than seats available, meaning at least one candidate must lose.
  2. The actual number of uncontested seats was likely higher. In South Dakota, 117 districts canceled their elections, and those seats are not included in this total. Additionally, in multi-member districts, those seats are only counted as uncontested if every seat was uncontested. For example, if there were three seats up for election, and only three candidates ran, all three seats would be counted as uncontested. But if four candidates ran, none of those seats would be counted as uncontested, even though there was technically only a contest for one of the three seats.
  3. In South Dakota, districts set their own elections between April and June.
  4. Candidates regularly list endorsements on their campaign websites with no attribution, meant to be taken as true at face value. The same applies to endorsements submitted through surveys. Ballotpedia does not fact-check candidate-submitted information. However, if a candidate submits false information and Ballotpedia learns of this at a later time, their survey responses will be updated to reflect that information.