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The Impact of National Tides and District-Level Effects on Electoral Outcomes: The U.S. Congressional Elections of 1862-63

Jamie L. Carson, Jeffery A. Jenkins, David W. Rohde and Mark A. Souva
American Journal of Political Science
Vol. 45, No. 4 (Oct., 2001), pp. 887-898
DOI: 10.2307/2669330
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2669330
Page Count: 12
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The Impact of National Tides and District-Level Effects on Electoral Outcomes: The U.S. Congressional Elections of 1862-63
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Abstract

We examine the U.S. Congressional elections of 1862-63, which resulted in a stunning setback for President Abraham Lincoln and the incumbent Republican Party. After the electoral "dust" had cleared, the Republicans lost control of the House, as their share of seats declined from 59 percent to just over 46 percent. While historians contend that the national electorate's general unhappiness with the war effort produced a largely systematic backlash against all Republican candidates, we explore the impact of both national tides and district-level effects on electoral outcomes. Specifically, we hypothesize that the emergence of quality challengers, district-specific war casualties, and the timing of the midterm elections in conjunction with changing national conditions influenced individual electoral fortunes. Our empirical analysis confirms each of these expectations. More generally, our results provide support for modern theories of electoral outcomes in a previously unexplored historical context and suggest several potential avenues for further research.

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