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On the Decline of Competition in Congressional Elections*

  • John A. Ferejohn (a1)

Several authors have observed a decline in the number of competitive congressional districts during the past two decades. Various explanations have been proposed for this change. Among these are theories attributing major causal significance to changing methods of drawing district boundaries, and increasing control of campaign resources by incumbents. These theories are examined critically and arguments are advanced for their rejection. The principal cause of the decline of competition for congressional seats appears to rest on a change in individual voting behavior.

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This paper has benefited greatly from the assistance of John Land, my research assistant, and from the detailed critical comments of Morris Fiorina, Sam Kernell, Robert Erikson, John Kingdon, Ben Page, Gary Jacobson, Michael Cohen, J. Vincent Buck, Robert Bates, and Lance Davis. I could not take all their criticisms into account, but I am deeply grateful for their generous donations of time. Some of the data employed in this study were made available by the Inter-University Consortium for Political Research at the University of Michigan. I alone am responsible for the analysis and conclusions.

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This list contains references from the content that can be linked to their source. For a full set of references and notes please see the PDF or HTML where available.

David Mayhew , “Congressional Elections: The Case of the Vanishing Marginals,” Polity, 6 (Spring 1974), 295317

Robert S. Erikson , “The Advantage of Incumbency in Congressional Elections,” Polity, 3 (Spring 1971), 395405

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American Political Science Review
  • ISSN: 0003-0554
  • EISSN: 1537-5943
  • URL: /core/journals/american-political-science-review
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