Abstract

http://ssrn.com/abstract=1881926
 
 

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Judicial Retention Elections


Greg Casey


University of Missouri at Columbia - Department of Political Science

James W. Endersby


University of Missouri at Columbia

Jennifer A. Dube


University of Missouri at Columbia - Political Science

July 8, 2011


Abstract:     
Nineteen states require periodic voter review of incumbent state judges. Voters are given a referendum of whether to retain the current justice or judge. Although few judges lose a retention election, there is considerable variability to the electoral margin. These judicial retention elections are low information contests, and it is not clear how voters make decisions. Bar polls, the result of a survey of a state’s lawyers, are one form of information on how judges are perceived. Much of the scholarly literature on the effect of bar polls on judicial retention election outcomes is decades old, state specific, and mixed in terms of results. Research findings disagree on whether bar polls influence retention election results (Carbon 1980; Goldstein 1980; Stookey and Watson 1980; Hall 1985) or not (Jenkins 1977; Johnson, et al. 1978; Griffin and Horan 1979, 1983; Scheb 1983). This paper investigates the relationship between a judge’s evaluation from bar polls and subsequent electoral outcome and margin. Retention election data are available for several states (IA, IL, MO) and for district courts, appeals courts, and supreme courts. Data extend from 1970-2010, although bar polls are not available for all elections. Measures of partisanship and demographic characteristics are used as control variables. Findings strongly support the view that bar polls do serve as information sources for voters in the aggregate. A judge’s evaluation by attorneys is related to retention election margin.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 35

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Date posted: July 15, 2011  

Suggested Citation

Casey, Greg and Endersby, James W. and Dube, Jennifer A., Judicial Retention Elections (July 8, 2011). Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=1881926 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1881926

Contact Information

Greg Casey
University of Missouri at Columbia - Department of Political Science ( email )
113 Professional Bldg.
Columbia, MO 65211-6030
United States
James W. Endersby (Contact Author)
University of Missouri at Columbia ( email )
Columbia, MO Columbia 65211
United States
Jennifer A. Dube
University of Missouri at Columbia - Political Science ( email )
113 Professional Bldg.
Columbia, MO 65211-6030
United States
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