Does It Really Hurt to Be Out of Step?

Political Research Quarterly, Vol. 66, Issue 4, pp. 856-867, 2013

45 Pages Posted: 10 Mar 2014 Last revised: 21 May 2015

See all articles by Gary Hollibaugh

Gary Hollibaugh

University of Notre Dame - Department of Political Science

Lawrence S. Rothenberg

University of Rochester - Department of Political Science

Kristin Rulison

University of Rochester - Department of Political Science

Abstract

Scholars have seemingly established that constituents hold “out of step” legislators electorally accountable. Empirically, however, such claims have not been based on measures placing districts and perceptions of legislators’ preferences in the same space. We remedy this using the 2006 and 2008 Cooperative Congressional Election Studies and Aldrich and McKelvey’s scaling procedure, finding that electoral success is roughly consistent with Downsian logic but not with the blanket statement that out of step incumbents are penalized. Voters punish out of step incumbents conditional on having a sufficiently more “in step” challenger. Effects are substantial, but so are incumbent advantages.

Keywords: political science, elections, congressional elections, voting, voting behavior, ideal points, ideology

JEL Classification: D7, D70, D72

Suggested Citation

Hollibaugh, Gary and Rothenberg, Lawrence S. and Rulison, Kristin, Does It Really Hurt to Be Out of Step?. Political Research Quarterly, Vol. 66, Issue 4, pp. 856-867, 2013, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2406484

Gary Hollibaugh (Contact Author)

University of Notre Dame - Department of Political Science ( email )

2060 Jenkins Nanovic Halls
Notre Dame, IN 46556
United States

HOME PAGE: http://www.garyhollibaugh.com

Lawrence S. Rothenberg

University of Rochester - Department of Political Science ( email )

Rochester, NY 14627
United States
585-273-4903 (Phone)

Kristin Rulison

University of Rochester - Department of Political Science ( email )

Rochester, NY 14627
United States

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