IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this article

Coattail Voting in Recent Presidential Elections


  • Calvert, Randall L.
  • Ferejohn, John A.


This article presents a method for analyzing the extent and strength of coattail voting in presidential elections. This method allows the authors to estimate the magnitude of coattail voting and then to decompose this estimate into more “basic†elements. Estimates are given for presidential elections beginning with 1956.The determination of the coattail vote and its decomposition depend on the theory of the voting decision that is assumed. In this article we present a model of vote determination that is similar in most respects to the traditional SRC model; the vote for congressional representation in a presidential election year is determined jointly by partisan affiliation, attitudes toward the presidential candidates, and local forces unique to the congressional race (such as may be captured by an incumbency variable). This model permits the separate estimation of the strength of short-term forces and of the efficiency of the presidential coattails.Application of the model to survey data since 1956 indicates that efficiency of presidential coattails has declined during this period. Furthermore, the 1980 election does not appear to be an exception to this trend. On the other hand there has not been any particular trend in the strength of short-term forces during this period; instead events peculiar to the context of a specific election generate short-term forces at the level of the presidential election, but the degree to which these forces are carried over to local races seems to have declined.

Suggested Citation

  • Calvert, Randall L. & Ferejohn, John A., 1983. "Coattail Voting in Recent Presidential Elections," American Political Science Review, Cambridge University Press, vol. 77(2), pages 407-419, June.
  • Handle: RePEc:cup:apsrev:v:77:y:1983:i:02:p:407-419_24

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    File Function: link to article abstract page
    Download Restriction: no


    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.

    Cited by:

    1. Autor, David & Dorn, David & Hanson, Gordon & Majlesi, Kaveh, 2016. "Importing Political Polarization? The Electoral Consequences of Rising Trade Exposure," Working Papers 2016:21, Lund University, Department of Economics.
    2. Alesina, Alberto & Londregan, John & Rosenthal, Howard, 1993. "A Model of the Political Economy of the United States," American Political Science Review, Cambridge University Press, vol. 87(1), pages 12-33, March.
    3. Levitt, Steven D & Snyder, James M, Jr, 1997. "The Impact of Federal Spending on House Election Outcomes," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 105(1), pages 30-53, February.
    4. repec:hrv:faseco:34222831 is not listed on IDEAS
    5. Zudenkova, Galina, 2011. "A political agency model of coattail voting," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 95(11), pages 1652-1660.
    6. Ade, Florian & Freier, Ronny, 2013. "Divided government versus incumbency externality effect—Quasi-experimental evidence on multiple voting decisions," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 64(C), pages 1-20.
    7. Bennett, Daniel L. & Long, Jason T., 2019. "Is it the economic policy, stupid? Economic policy, political parties & the gubernatorial incumbent advantage," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 58(C), pages 118-137.
    8. Gomberg, Andrei & Gutiérrez, Emilio & López, Paulina & Vázquez, Alejandra, 2019. "Coattails and the forces that drive them: Evidence from Mexico," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 58(C), pages 64-81.
    9. Levitt, Steven D, 1994. "Using Repeat Challengers to Estimate the Effect of Campaign Spending on Election Outcomes in the U.S. House," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 102(4), pages 777-798, August.

    More about this item


    Access and download statistics


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:cup:apsrev:v:77:y:1983:i:02:p:407-419_24. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Keith Waters). General contact details of provider: .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    We have no references for this item. You can help adding them by using this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.