Skip to main content
    • Aa
    • Aa

Constituency Service and Incumbency Advantage


Numerous scholars have documented a dramatic increase in incumbency advantage in US congressional elections and also state legislative elections over the past four decades. For example, Gelman and King show that incumbents in the House of Representatives now receive about twelve extra percentage points solely as a result of holding congressional office during the campaign; the comparable figure for most of the first half of this century was only 2 per cent. This advantage of incumbency has made members of the US House and many state legislators nearly invulnerable to electoral defeat.

Linked references
Hide All

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.

Robert S. Erikson , ‘The Advantage of Incumbency in Congressional Elections’, Polity, 3 (1971), 395405

Robert S. Erikson , ‘Malapportionment, Gerrymandering, and Party Fortunes in Congressional Elections’. American Political Science Review, 66 (1972), 1234–55

Richard Born , ‘Generational Replacement and the Growth of Incumbent Reelection in the US House’, American Political Science Review, 73 (1979), 811–17

James L. Payne , ‘The Personal Electoral Advantage of House Incumbents’, American Politics Quarterly, 8 (1980), 375–98

John R. Alford and John R. Hibbing , ‘Increased Incumbency Advantage in the House’. Journal of Politics, 43 (1981), 1042–61

James C. Garand and Donald A. Gross , ‘Change in the Vote Margins for Congressional Candidates: A Specification of the Historical Trends’, American Political Science Review, 78 (1984), 1730

John A. Ferejohn , ‘On the Decline of Competition in Congressional Elections’, American Political Science Review, 28 (1977), 127–46

Candice Nelson , ‘The Effects of Incumbency on Voting in Congressional Elections’, Political Science Quarterly, 93 (19781979), 665–78

Thomas E. Mann and Raymond E. Wolfinger , ‘Candidates and Parties in Congressional Elections’, American Political Science Review, 74 (1980), 617–32

Keith Krehbiel and John R. Wright , ‘The Incumbency Effect in Congressional Elections: A Test of Two Explanations’, American Journal of Political Science, 27 (1983), 140–57

Bruce Cain , John Ferejohn and Morris Fiorina , The Personal Vote: Constituency Service and Electoral Independence (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1987).

John Blydenburgh , ‘A Controlled Experiment to Measure the Effects of Personal Contact Campaigning’, Midwest Journal of Political Science, 15 (1971), 365–81

Albert D. Cover and Bruce S. Blumberg , ‘Baby Books and Ballots: The Impact of Congressional Mail on Constituent Opinion’, American Political Science Review, 76 (1982), 347–59

Timothy E. Cook , ‘Review Essay’, American Political Science Review, 77 (1983), 1017–18

Paul Feldman and James Jondrow , ‘Congressional Elections and Local Federal Spending’, American Journal of Political Science, 28 (1984), 147–64.

John R. Johannes and John C. McAdams , ‘The Congressional Incumbency Effect: Is It Casework, Policy Compatibility, or Something Else?American Journal of Political Science, 25 (1981), 543–67.

Malcolm E. Jewell and David Breaux , ‘The Effect of Incumbency on State Legislative Elections’, Legislative Studies Quarterly 13 (1989). 495514.

Nelson W. Polsby , ‘The Institutionalization of the House of Representatives’, American Political Science Review, 62 (1968), 144–68, Table 6.

B. W. Silverman , Density Estimation for Statistics and Data Analysis (London: Chapman and Hall.1986)

Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

British Journal of Political Science
  • ISSN: 0007-1234
  • EISSN: 1469-2112
  • URL: /core/journals/british-journal-of-political-science
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *


Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 15 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 141 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between September 2016 - 23rd September 2017. This data will be updated every 24 hours.