The Dynasty Advantage: Family Ties in Congressional Elections

Legislative Studies Quarterly, Vol. 35, No. 4, pp. 571-98, November 2010

28 Pages Posted: 12 Oct 2010  

Brian D. Feinstein

University of Chicago Law School

Date Written: November 2010

Abstract

Political dynasties, families in which multiple members have held elected office, commonly feature in the U.S. Congress. I explored the electoral origins of this phenomenon and determined that members of political dynasties have a significant advantage over first-generation politicians in open-seat House elections. Using an original dataset containing candidate- and district-level covariates for all candidates in open-seat House contests between 1994 and 2006, I found that dynastic politicians enjoy “brand name advantages,” giving them a significant edge over comparable nondynastic opponents. In contrast, hypotheses concerning potential advantages stemming from past political experience and fundraising ability yield null results.

Keywords: dynasties, political dynasties, dynastic candidates, dynastic politicians, political families, political elites, elections, political selection, Congress, legislatures, candidates, open seat, campaigns, name recognition, family ties, intergenerational transfers, brand name, label, goodwill

Suggested Citation

Feinstein, Brian D., The Dynasty Advantage: Family Ties in Congressional Elections (November 2010). Legislative Studies Quarterly, Vol. 35, No. 4, pp. 571-98, November 2010. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1690358

Brian D. Feinstein (Contact Author)

University of Chicago Law School ( email )

1111 E. 60th St.
Chicago, IL 60637
United States

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