Incumbent Policy Strategy with Endogenous Valuations

30 Pages Posted: 18 Jul 2022 Last revised: 30 Aug 2023

See all articles by Christian Cox

Christian Cox

University of Arizona - Department of Economics

Ian Shapiro

Yale University - Department of Political Science

Date Written: May 21, 2023

Abstract

Incumbent politicians are often assumed to prioritize appeasing voters for re-election, but their policy positions may not be solely based on this. We examine the impact of the value associated with winning on incumbent strategy, party discipline, and polarization. We allow this value to be influenced by policy choices and congressional committee assignments, which, in turn, are influenced by policy. To understand these dynamics, we build and estimate a novel model that captures the importance of policy, congressional committees, and endogenous valuations. Through counterfactual analysis, we explore how party leadership can leverage committee assignments to influence members of Congress. We find that the quality of committee assignments enhances the value of winning, while the effects of policy positions are more nuanced. Overall, valuations and committee assignments act as moderating forces.

Keywords: Elections, Party Discipline, Polarization

JEL Classification: D72

Suggested Citation

Cox, Christian and Shapiro, Ian, Incumbent Policy Strategy with Endogenous Valuations (May 21, 2023). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=4149902 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.4149902

Christian Cox (Contact Author)

University of Arizona - Department of Economics ( email )

McClelland Hall
Tucson, AZ 85721-0108
United States

Ian Shapiro

Yale University - Department of Political Science ( email )

Box 208269
New Haven, DC 06520-8269
United States

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