Policy Inertia, Election Uncertainty and Incumbency Disadvantage of Political Parties
57 Pages Posted: 25 Oct 2019
Date Written: 2019-10-24
We document that postwar U.S. elections show a strong pattern of "incumbency disadvantage": If a party has held the presidency of the country or the governorship of a state for some time, that party tends to lose popularity in the subsequent election. We show that this fact can be explained by a combination of policy inertia and unpredictability in election outcomes. A quantitative analysis shows that the observed magnitude of incumbency disadvantage can arise in several different models of policy inertia. Normative and positive implications of policy inertia leading to incumbency disadvantage are explored.
Keywords: rational partisan model, policy inertia, incumbency disadvantage, election uncertainty, prospective voting
JEL Classification: D72, H50
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation