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Estimating Incumbency Effects In U.S. State Legislatures: A Quasi-Experimental Study


This paper estimates the incumbency effects in elections to the House of Representatives of 45 states in the United States using a quasi-experimental research method, regression discontinuity design (RDD). This design isolates the causal effect of incumbency from other contemporaneous factors, such as candidate quality, by comparing incumbents and non-incumbents in close contests. I find that incumbents in state legislative elections have a significant advantage, and this advantage serves as a strong barrier to re-entry of challengers who had previously been defeated. However, the incumbency advantage estimated using the RDD is much smaller than are the estimates using existing methods, implying a significant selection bias in the latter. Copyright 2009 Blackwell Publishing Ltd.

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Article provided by Wiley Blackwell in its journal Economics & Politics.

Volume (Year): 22 (2010)
Issue (Month): 2 (07)
Pages: 180-199

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Handle: RePEc:bla:ecopol:v:22:y:2010:i:2:p:180-199
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