The Rising Incumbent Advantage: What's Gerrymandering Got to Do with it?
38 Pages Posted: 15 Nov 2005
Date Written: November 14, 2005
The probability that an incumbent in the United States House of Representatives is reelected has risen dramatically over the last half-century. It now stands at more than 98%. A number of authors and commentators claim that this rise is due to an increase in bipartisan gerrymandering in favor of incumbents. Using a regression discontinuity approach, we find evidence of the opposite effect. All else equal, redistricting has reduced the probability of incumbent reelection over time. The timing of this effect is consistent with the hypothesis that constraints on gerrymandering, such as the Voting Rights Act, have become tighter over time. Incumbent gerrymandering may well be a contributor to incumbent reëlection rates, but it is less so than in the past.
Keywords: Gerrymandering, incumbent, redistricting
JEL Classification: D72, H10, K00
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation