Incumbent Policy Strategy with Endogenous Valuations
30 Pages Posted: 18 Jul 2022 Last revised: 30 Aug 2023
Date Written: May 21, 2023
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: Suggested Citation