The Effect of Electoral Competitiveness on Incumbent Behavior

Quarterly Journal of Political Science, Vol. 2, No. 2, pp. 107-138, 2007

32 Pages Posted: 31 Jan 2009 Last revised: 1 Nov 2009

See all articles by Sanford C. Gordon

Sanford C. Gordon

New York University (NYU) - Wilf Family Department of Politics

Gregory Huber

Yale University - Department of Political Science

Date Written: January 30, 2009

Abstract

What is the marginal effect of competitiveness on the power of electoral incentives? Addressing this question empirically is difficult because challenges to incumbents are endogenous to their behavior in office. To overcome this obstacle, we exploit a unique feature of Kansas courts: 14 districts employ partisan elections to select judges, while 17 employ noncompetitive retention elections. In the latter, therefore, challengers are ruled out.We find judges in partisan systems sentence more severely than those in retention systems. Additional tests attribute this to the incentive effects of potential competition, rather than the selection of more punitive judges in partisan districts.

Keywords: Natural experiments, Competitiveness, Incumbents, Elections

JEL Classification: C93

Suggested Citation

Gordon, Sanford C. and Huber, Gregory, The Effect of Electoral Competitiveness on Incumbent Behavior (January 30, 2009). Quarterly Journal of Political Science, Vol. 2, No. 2, pp. 107-138, 2007, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1335455

Sanford C. Gordon (Contact Author)

New York University (NYU) - Wilf Family Department of Politics ( email )

19 West 4th Street, 2nd Floor
New York, NY 10012
United States

Gregory Huber

Yale University - Department of Political Science ( email )

Box 208269
New Haven, DC 06520-8269
United States

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