Access

You are not currently logged in.

Access your personal account or get JSTOR access through your library or other institution:

login

Log in to your personal account or through your institution.

If You Use a Screen Reader

This content is available through Read Online (Free) program, which relies on page scans. Since scans are not currently available to screen readers, please contact JSTOR User Support for access. We'll provide a PDF copy for your screen reader.

Why Did the Incumbency Advantage in U.S. House Elections Grow?

Gary W. Cox and Jonathan N. Katz
American Journal of Political Science
Vol. 40, No. 2 (May, 1996), pp. 478-497
DOI: 10.2307/2111633
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2111633
Page Count: 20
  • Read Online (Free)
  • Subscribe ($19.50)
  • Cite this Item
Since scans are not currently available to screen readers, please contact JSTOR User Support for access. We'll provide a PDF copy for your screen reader.
Why Did the Incumbency Advantage in U.S. House Elections Grow?
Preview not available

Abstract

A simple rational entry argument suggests that the value of incumbency consists not just of a direct effect, reflecting the value of resources (such as staff) attached to legislative office, but also of an indirect effect, reflecting the fact that stronger challengers are less likely to contest incumbent-held seats. The indirect effect is the product of a scare-off effect--the ability of incumbents to scare off high-quality challengers--and a quality effect--reflecting how much electoral advantage a party accrues when it has an experienced rather than an inexperienced candidate. The growth of the overall incumbency advantage was driven principally by increases in the quality effect. We use a simple two-equation model, estimated by ordinary least-squares regression, to analyze U.S. House election data from 1948 to 1990. Most of the increase in the incumbency advantage, at least down to 1980, came through increases in the quality effect (i.e., the advantage to the incumbent party of having a low-quality challenger). This suggests that the task for those wishing to explain the growth in the vote-denominated incumbency advantage is to explain why the quality effect grew. It also suggests that resource-based explanations of the growth in the incumbency advantage cannot provide a full explanation.

Page Thumbnails

  • Thumbnail: Page 
[478]
    [478]
  • Thumbnail: Page 
479
    479
  • Thumbnail: Page 
480
    480
  • Thumbnail: Page 
481
    481
  • Thumbnail: Page 
482
    482
  • Thumbnail: Page 
483
    483
  • Thumbnail: Page 
484
    484
  • Thumbnail: Page 
485
    485
  • Thumbnail: Page 
486
    486
  • Thumbnail: Page 
[487]
    [487]
  • Thumbnail: Page 
488
    488
  • Thumbnail: Page 
[489]
    [489]
  • Thumbnail: Page 
490
    490
  • Thumbnail: Page 
491
    491
  • Thumbnail: Page 
492
    492
  • Thumbnail: Page 
493
    493
  • Thumbnail: Page 
494
    494
  • Thumbnail: Page 
495
    495
  • Thumbnail: Page 
496
    496
  • Thumbnail: Page 
497
    497