Why Do Incumbent Senators Win? Evidence from a Dynamic Selection Model
AbstractSince 1914, incumbent U.S. senators running for reelection have won almost 80% of the time. We investigate why incumbents win so often. We allow for three potential explanations for the incumbency advantage: selection, tenure, and challenger quality, which are separately identified using histories of election outcomes following an open seat election. We specify a dynamic model of voter behavior that allows for these three effects, and structurally estimate the parameters of the model using U.S. Senate data. We find that tenure effects are negative or small. We also find that incumbents face weaker challengers than candidates running for open seats. If incumbents faced challengers as strong as candidates for open seats, the incumbency advantage would be cut in half.
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Date of creation: Sep 2004
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Find related papers by JEL classification:
- H1 - Public Economics - - Structure and Scope of Government
- J2 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor
- C5 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Econometric Modeling
This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:
- NEP-ALL-2004-09-30 (All new papers)
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