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An Econometric Evaluation of Competing Explanations for the Midterm Gap

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  • Knight, Brian

Abstract

This paper provides a unified theoretical and empirical analysis of three long-standing explanations for the consistent loss of support for the president's party in midterm Congressional elections: (1) a presidential penalty, defined as a preference for supporting the opposition during midterm years, (2) a surge and decline in voter turnout, and (3) a reversion to the mean in voter partisanship. To quantify the contribution of each of these factors, an econometric model is developed in which voters jointly choose whether or not to participate and which party to support in both house and presidential elections. Estimated using ANES data from both presidential and midterm years, the model can fully explain the observed midterm gaps, and counterfactual simulations demonstrate that each factor makes a sizable contribution towards the midterm gap, with the presidential penalty playing the largest role.

Suggested Citation

  • Knight, Brian, 2017. "An Econometric Evaluation of Competing Explanations for the Midterm Gap," Quarterly Journal of Political Science, now publishers, vol. 12(2), pages 205-239, September.
  • Handle: RePEc:now:jlqjps:100.00015008
    DOI: 10.1561/100.00015008
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    Cited by:

    1. Konstantinou, Panagiotis Th. & Panagiotidis, Theodore & Roumanias, Costas, 2021. "State-dependent effect on voter turnout: The case of US House elections," The Quarterly Review of Economics and Finance, Elsevier, vol. 80(C), pages 753-765.
    2. Gebhard Kirchgässner, 2016. "Voting and Popularity," CESifo Working Paper Series 6182, CESifo.
    3. Nicole Rae Baerg & Julie L. Hotchkiss & Myriam Quispe†Agnoli, 2018. "Documenting the unauthorized: Political responses to unauthorized immigration," Economics and Politics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 30(1), pages 1-26, March.

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Midterm gap; Voting behavior; Presidential politics; Congress;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • D7 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making

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