Incumbency Disadvantage in U.S. National Politics

27 Pages Posted: 8 Jan 2017  

Satyajit Chatterjee

Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia

Burcu Eyigungor

Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia

Date Written: 2017-01-05

Abstract

We document that postwar U.S. national elections show a strong pattern of “incumbency disadvantage”: If the presidency has been held by a party for some time, that party tends to lose seats in Congress. A model of partisan politics with policy inertia and elections is presented to explain this finding. We also find that the incumbency disadvantage comes sooner for Democrats than Republicans. Based on the observed Democratic bias in Congress (Democrats, on average, hold more seats in the House and Senate than Republicans), the model also offers an explanation for the second finding.

Keywords: rational partisan model, incumbency disadvantage, policy inertia, political disagreement model, partisan politics

Suggested Citation

Chatterjee, Satyajit and Eyigungor, Burcu, Incumbency Disadvantage in U.S. National Politics (2017-01-05). FRB of Philadelphia Working Paper No. 16-36. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2894829

Satyajit Chatterjee (Contact Author)

Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia ( email )

Ten Independence Mall
Philadelphia, PA 19106-1574
United States
215-574-3861 (Phone)
215-574-4364 (Fax)

HOME PAGE: http://sites.google.com/site/chatterjeesatyajit/home

Burcu Eyigungor

Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia ( email )

Ten Independence Mall
Philadelphia, PA 19106-1574
United States

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