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Candidate Valence and Ideological Positions in U.S. House Elections

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  • Walter J. Stone
  • Elizabeth N. Simas

Abstract

We examine the relationship between the valence qualities of candidates and the ideological positions they take in U.S. House elections based on a study of the 2006 midterm elections. Our design enables us to distinguish between campaign and character dimensions of candidate valence and to place candidates and districts on the same ideological scale. Incumbents with a personal‐character advantage are closer ideologically to their district preferences, while disadvantaged challengers take more extreme policy positions. Contrary to conventional wisdom, challengers can reap electoral rewards by taking more extreme positions relative to their districts. We explore a possible mechanism for this extremism effect by demonstrating that challengers closer to the extreme received greater financial contributions, which enhanced their chances of victory. Our results bear on theories of representation that include policy and valence, although the interactions between these two dimensions may be complex and counterintuitive.

Suggested Citation

  • Walter J. Stone & Elizabeth N. Simas, 2010. "Candidate Valence and Ideological Positions in U.S. House Elections," American Journal of Political Science, John Wiley & Sons, vol. 54(2), pages 371-388, April.
  • Handle: RePEc:wly:amposc:v:54:y:2010:i:2:p:371-388
    DOI: 10.1111/j.1540-5907.2010.00436.x
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    File URL: https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1540-5907.2010.00436.x
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    Cited by:

    1. Giovanni Andreottola, 2020. "Signaling Valence in Primary Elections," CSEF Working Papers 559, Centre for Studies in Economics and Finance (CSEF), University of Naples, Italy.
    2. Bekkouche, Yasmine & Cagé, Julia & Dewitte, Edgard, 2020. "The Heterogeneous Price of a Vote: Evidence from Multiparty Systems, 1993-2017," CEPR Discussion Papers 15150, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    3. Jordan Kujala, 2020. "Donors, Primary Elections, and Polarization in the United States," American Journal of Political Science, John Wiley & Sons, vol. 64(3), pages 587-602, July.
    4. Yasmine Bekkouche & Julia Cage, 2019. "The Heterogeneous Price of a Vote: Evidence from France, 1993-2014," Sciences Po Economics Discussion Papers 2019-09, Sciences Po Departement of Economics.
    5. Jon X. Eguia & Kenneth A. Shepsle, 2014. "Endogenous Assembly Rules, Senior Agenda Power, and Incumbency Advantage," Bristol Economics Discussion Papers 14/638, School of Economics, University of Bristol, UK.
    6. Susumu Shikano & Dominic Nyhuis, 2019. "The effect of incumbency on ideological and valence perceptions of parties in multilevel polities," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 181(3), pages 331-349, December.
    7. Robert Johns & Ann‐Kristin Kölln, 2020. "Moderation and Competence: How a Party's Ideological Position Shapes Its Valence Reputation," American Journal of Political Science, John Wiley & Sons, vol. 64(3), pages 649-663, July.
    8. Oluwole Owoye & Matthew Dabros, 2017. "The Analysis of White House Occupant and Political Polarization in the United States," Review of Social Sciences, LAR Center Press, vol. 2(4), pages 1-18, April.
    9. Siddhartha Bandyopadhyay & Kalyan Chatterjee & Jaideep Roy, 2020. "Extremist Platforms: Political Consequences Of Profit‐Seeking Media," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 61(3), pages 1173-1193, August.

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