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"All in all, do you think things in the nation are generally headed in the right direction, or do you feel that things are off on the wrong track?" NBC.

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Presentation on theme: ""All in all, do you think things in the nation are generally headed in the right direction, or do you feel that things are off on the wrong track?" NBC."— Presentation transcript:

1 "All in all, do you think things in the nation are generally headed in the right direction, or do you feel that things are off on the wrong track?" NBC Nov 1-2 – 11% right direction, 76% wrong direction "How well are things going in the country today: very well, fairly well, pretty badly or very badly?“ CNN Oct 17 – 42% pretty badly, 33% very badly 73% Disapprove of how Congress is handling its job

2 And yet.. Few incumbents lose – 16 House (12 R, 4 D) – 2 Senate (R- NH, NC) Partisan swing – 5 GOP Senate seats lost (NH, NC, CO, NM, VA) OR, AK, MN undecided – Democrat gains 20 in House

3 Context of Congressional Elections Single member districts Roughly equal size (650,000 souls) First Tuesday in November in even # years Australian ballot Must win 2 elections

4 Same Place, Same Voters Three Maps, Three Outcomes Basic Rules – each square same population. – All squares in the same district must touch – R squares have a majority of Republican voters – D squares have a majority of Democratic voters. Each set of squares with the same color represent a single election district

5 Map 1 How many Ds and Rs elected? How many competitive elections? five desirable less safe, more competitive districts, where the winner of the election may be either a Republican or a Democrat

6 Map 2 How many Ds and Rs elected? How many competitive elections? three Republican and two Democratic majority districts, all safe 55 percent or better districts for incumbents of the respective parties. Note the very safe pink D district

7 Map 3 How many Ds and Rs elected? How many competitive elections? two Republican and three Democratic majority districts, all safe 55 percent or better districts for incumbents of the respective parties:

8 Florida Florida's 22nd District – 90 miles long – Less than 3 miles wide. – every beach house lining Route A1A along Florida's Gold Coast from West Palm Beach to Miami Beach – 52% Dem in 2000, 55% R in 2002

9 Social & Political Contexts Amazing Variation – geographic size – Population – Economic base – Ethnicity – Age – Partisanship

10 Incumbency Reelection Rates

11 Incumbency 93% of House incumbents are reelected – 1994, 84% of House Democrats were reelected 77% of Senate incumbents are reelected #1 question to ask for congressional elections, Is there an incumbent?

12 Sources of Incumbent advantage Institutions are designed by members who want to get reelected. Amazing array of resources – Free mail, trips to district, staff – Free facilities for TV and radio ads – Casework

13 # of Senate Staff, 1830 –1993

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16 Puzzle

17 Is it the Money? Average incumbent gets 64.3% of vote For every $100,00 spent, lose 1.17% of vote For every $100,00 spent by party, lose 2.73% of vote incumbent House winner spends $700,00 incumbent House loser spends 1,300,000

18 Incumbency Status and Voters' Familiarity with Congressional Candidates, Jacobsen, The Politics of Congressional Elections, 1996

19 Voters’ Contact with Incumbents

20 Voters’ Contact with Candidates, 1990

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22 Challengers 1990, 1994

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24 Things Liked about Incumbents

25 Things Disliked about Incumbents

26 Things Liked about Challengers

27 Characteristics of Winning and Losing Challengers

28 Corporate PACs/Trade Associations 60% of all PAC $, 1994

29 The Incumbent’s Strategy Discourage serious electoral competition – Hilary Clinton - who doesn’t she want to face! Use casework, trips home, mailings to create perception of invulnerability Ambitious career politicians and campaign funders are rational

30 Montana- McCain 50%, Baucus 73% Arkansas McCain 59%, Mark Pryor, 80%

31 Who does Kirsten Gillibrand want to run against? John Faso, GOP nominee for governor, 16 years state assembly Jim Tedisco, Minority Leader of Assembly, 26 years state assembly Sandy Treadwell, Appointed chair of New York GOP, wealth $50 million

32 Who is a marginal incumbent Less than 60% of vote in previous election Scandal in last term Republican in a democratic leaning district First term representative

33 Electoral Competition and Challenger Spending in 1994 Challenger’s party vote in last House election, spending by non-incumbent house candidate <40%, $105, %, $322, %, $433,000 Open seat $580,000

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35 House of Representatives 61 “competitive” races in 2000 – 193 GOP incumbents won, 4 lost – 199 Dem incumbents won, 2 lost – GOP wins 20 of 25 open seats – Dems with 4 of 10 open seats 17 changes of 435

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37 Senate in toss up races out of 33 – GOP 13 of 18 incumbents win – Dems 10 of 11 incumbents win – GOP 0 of 1 on open seats – Dems 3 of 4 on open seats 7 changes

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39 Expectations Game Better the electoral odds, better the challenger and more money Weak incumbents and open seats attract well funded quality challengers Strong incumbents attract weak, poorly funded candidates

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41 Strategic Politician Hypothesis Best candidates, most money go to marginal incumbents, open seats 2 nd tier candidates, some money go Hopeless, poorly funded candidates run against strong incumbents

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43 Rational Targeting in 2004 DCC identifies top races; direct $$ there In 2004, – 33 challengers spent over $2 million – 200 spent less than $100,000 – 30 House elections decided by <10% Bad for Public? Bad for Party?

44 Expand the Field in 2006? 30 races or a 100 Campaign Spending  diminishing returns ($1 million) Extra $500k  10 races

45 How would you vote in your congressional district if the election "were being held today?" – 52% of registered voters Dem – 37% for Republican candidates Who would you like to see "in control of Congress after the congressional elections a year from now? – 55% Dems – 37% Republicans. ABC News/Washington Post Poll

46 Strategic Politician Model Implication  candidates decide elections, not voters

47 Campaigns ½ of all money is wasted, high uncertainty What issues are important Low turnout – 35% turnout in midterm elections Who votes? seniors and partisans! Random terror and running scared – Tom Foley, speaker of the house, 15 terms

48 Why do incumbents win? Better known (90% vs 40% Better liked (more familiar) Better funded

49 Why do challengers win? Make voters aware of incumbents’ shortcomings, their own virtues via mass media Are well funded Implications???

50 NY’s 21 st District 55% Bush – Gillibrand Gillibrand

51 Reforming the System Term limits – Federal level – State level Increase competitiveness of elections – Campaign finance reform Key Issue, how to get more people to run for office!!!

52 “Race to the Base” % Reagan % Clinton % Kerry

53 Electoral Replacement The Death of the Gypsy Moth Marge Roukema Scott Garrett

54 Candidate Certification in Open Primaries 216 House members, 42 senators

55 Declare War on Rinos Republican In Name Only – Arlen Specter (PA) – Lincoln Chafee (RI) – George Voinvich (OH) – Olympia Snowe (ME)

56 Primary Challengers for Moderates War on Rinos – Senator Chafee (R-RI) vs Steve LaffeySteve Laffey

57 Safe Electoral Strategy Cater to partisan and ideological GOP base – 10 competitive races in 2004 – 35 competitive races in 2006

58 Why Incumbents Win Table 5.3, high name recognition Table 5.7, Voters Contact with Candidates Table 5.15 – Personal – Performance/experience – District service – Ideology/Policy

59 Challengers Strategy Table 5.3 name recognition Table 5.11, Campaign expenditures and name recognition Table 5.7, Voters Contact with Candidates – Where do voters learn about challengers Table 5.15, Things liked about challengers – What is #1?


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