Estimating Incumbency Effects in U.S. State Legislatures: A Quasi-Experimental Study

20 Pages Posted: 16 Jun 2010

Abstract

This paper estimates the incumbency effects in elections to the House of Representatives of 45 states in the United States using a quasi-experimental research method, regression discontinuity design (RDD). This design isolates the causal effect of incumbency from other contemporaneous factors, such as candidate quality, by comparing incumbents and non-incumbents in close contests. I find that incumbents in state legislative elections have a significant advantage, and this advantage serves as a strong barrier to re-entry of challengers who had previously been defeated. However, the incumbency advantage estimated using the RDD is much smaller than are the estimates using existing methods, implying a significant selection bias in the latter.

Suggested Citation

Uppal, Yogesh, Estimating Incumbency Effects in U.S. State Legislatures: A Quasi-Experimental Study. Economics & Politics, Vol. 22, Issue 2, pp. 180-199, July 2010, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1625563 or http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1468-0343.2009.00358.x

Yogesh Uppal (Contact Author)

Youngstown State University ( email )

Youngstown, OH 44555
United States

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