Skip to main content

Do Congressional Candidates Have Reverse Coattails? Evidence from a Regression Discontinuity Design

  • David E. Broockman (a1)

Although the presidential coattail effect has been an object of frequent study, the question of whether popular congressional candidates boost vote shares in return for their parties' presidential candidates remains unexplored. This article investigates whether so-called “reverse coattails” exist using a regression discontinuity design with congressional district-level data from presidential elections between 1952 and 2004. Taking incumbency to be near-randomly distributed in cases where congressional candidates have just won or lost their previous elections, I find that the numerous substantial advantages of congressional incumbency have no effect on presidential returns for these incumbents' parties. This null finding underscores my claim that the existing coattail literature deserves greater scrutiny. My results also prompt a rethinking of the nature of the advantages that incumbents bring to their campaigns and may help deepen our understanding of partisanship in the United States.

Recommend this journal

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

Political Analysis
  • ISSN: 1047-1987
  • EISSN: 1476-4989
  • URL: /core/journals/political-analysis
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *


Altmetric attention score

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 139 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 581 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between 4th January 2017 - 18th August 2018. This data will be updated every 24 hours.