Modern Machines: Patronage, Information, and Incumbency in Local Politics
37 Pages Posted: 25 Aug 2007
Date Written: August, 22, 2007
For all intents and purposes political machines are a thing of the past in American cities. Yet certain characteristics of machines are familiar components of the modern political landscape - among others a lack of transparency in governing, patronage, favors and contracts awarded in exchange for campaign contributions. While scholars have noted the persistence of these practices, there has been little exploration of the modern version of one of the most pervasive machine characteristics - winning reelection. Is there a corollary to political machines in today's city politics? Can politicians rely on machine style strategies to increase the probability that they will maintain power? In this paper I use case study and quantitative analysis to investigate the factors that increase the local incumbency advantage. I find that even controlling for demographics, economic stability, and factors that increase the attractiveness of holding office incumbents are more likely to seek reelection and to win in low-information elections with large municipal workforces.
Keywords: urban, elections, incumbency, local, parties, patronage
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