The Rising Incumbent Advantage: What's Gerrymandering Got to Do with it?

38 Pages Posted: 15 Nov 2005

See all articles by John N. Friedman

John N. Friedman

Harvard University - Harvard Kennedy School (HKS); National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Richard Holden

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT); National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Date Written: November 14, 2005

Abstract

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 reƫlection rates, but it is less so than in the past.

Keywords: Gerrymandering, incumbent, redistricting

JEL Classification: D72, H10, K00

Suggested Citation

Friedman, John Norton and Holden, Richard, The Rising Incumbent Advantage: What's Gerrymandering Got to Do with it? (November 14, 2005). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=847656 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.847656

John Norton Friedman (Contact Author)

Harvard University - Harvard Kennedy School (HKS) ( email )

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National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) ( email )

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Richard Holden

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) ( email )

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Cambridge, MA 02142
United States

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) ( email )

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

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