Skip to main content Accessibility help
×
×
Home

Coattails, Raincoats, and Congressional Election Outcomes

  • Steven Rogers (a1)
Abstract

More than 60 years ago, Angus Campbell offered an explanation for why the president’s party regularly loses congressional seats in midterm elections. He argued that peripheral voters “surge” to the polls in presidential elections and support the president’s congressional co-partisans but “decline” to turn out in the midterm. In his turnout-based explanation for midterm loss, Campbell speculated that “bad weather or an epidemic may affect the vote” but largely dismissed weather’s utility to test his theory (Campbell 1960, 399). I revisit Campbell’s speculation and employ a new identification strategy to investigate the “surge and decline” account of midterm loss. I show that as the costs of voting increase—due to above-average rainfall on Election Day—the strength of the relationship between presidential and congressional voting weakens.

  • View HTML
    • Send article to Kindle

      To send this article to your Kindle, first ensure no-reply@cambridge.org is added to your Approved Personal Document E-mail List under your Personal Document Settings on the Manage Your Content and Devices page of your Amazon account. Then enter the ‘name’ part of your Kindle email address below. Find out more about sending to your Kindle. Find out more about sending to your Kindle.

      Note you can select to send to either the @free.kindle.com or @kindle.com variations. ‘@free.kindle.com’ emails are free but can only be sent to your device when it is connected to wi-fi. ‘@kindle.com’ emails can be delivered even when you are not connected to wi-fi, but note that service fees apply.

      Find out more about the Kindle Personal Document Service.

      Coattails, Raincoats, and Congressional Election Outcomes
      Available formats
      ×
      Send article to Dropbox

      To send this article to your Dropbox account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your <service> account. Find out more about sending content to Dropbox.

      Coattails, Raincoats, and Congressional Election Outcomes
      Available formats
      ×
      Send article to Google Drive

      To send this article to your Google Drive account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your <service> account. Find out more about sending content to Google Drive.

      Coattails, Raincoats, and Congressional Election Outcomes
      Available formats
      ×
Copyright
References
Hide All
Abramowitz, Alan I., Cover, Albert D., and Norpoth, Helmut. 1986. “The President’s Party in Midterm Elections: Going from Bad to Worse.” American Journal of Political Science 30 (3): 562–76. doi: 10.2307/2111090.
Aiken, Leona S., and West, Stephen G.. 1991. Multiple Regression: Testing and Interpreting Interactions. Newbury Park, CA: Sage Publications.
Alesina, Alberto, and Rosenthal, Howard. 1989. “Partisan Cycles in Congressional Elections and the Macroeconomy.” American Political Science Review 83 (2): 373–98. doi: 10.2307/1962396.
Bailey, Michael A., and Fullmer, Elliott B.. 2011. “Balancing in the U.S. States, 1978–2009.” State Politics & Policy Quarterly 11 (2): 148–66. doi: 10.1177/1532440011406230.
Blais, André. 2006. “What Affects Voter Turnout?Annual Review of Political Science 9 (1): 111–25. Available at https://doi.org/10.1146/annurev.polisci.9.070204.105121.
Boockoff-Bajdek, Michelle. 2016. “Drive Broadcast Revenue with Election Day Forecasts.” The Weather Company. Available at https://business.weather.com/writable/documents/Media/Voter-Survey-White-Paper_042016.pdf.
Brambor, Thomas, Clark, William Roberts, and Golder, Matt. 2006. “Understanding Interaction Models: Improving Empirical Analyses.” Political Analyses 14 (1): 6382.10.1093/pan/mpi014
Broockman, David E. 2009. “Do Congressional Candidates Have Reverse Coattails? Evidence from a Regression Discontinuity Design.” Political Analysis 17 (4): 418–34. doi: 10.1093/pan/mpp013.
Burden, Barry C., and Kimball, David C.. 1998. “A New Approach to the Study of Ticket Splitting.” American Political Science Review 92 (3): 533–44. doi: 10.2307/2585479.
Calvert, Randall L., and Ferejohn, John A.. 1983. “Coattail Voting in Recent Presidential Elections.” American Political Science Review 77 (2): 407–19.10.2307/1958925
Campbell, Angus. 1960. “Surge and Decline: A Study of Electoral Change.” Public Opinion Quarterly 24 (3): 397418. doi: 10.2307/2746724.
Campbell, James E. 1985. “Explaining Presidential Losses in Midterm Congressional Elections.” Journal of Politics 47 (4): 1140–57. doi: 10.2307/2130810.
Cho, Wendy K. Tam, and Gaines, Brian J.. 2004. “The Limits of Ecological Inference: The Case of Split-Ticket Voting.” American Journal of Political Science 48 (1): 152–71. doi: 10.2307/1519903.
Clubb, Jerome M., Flanigan, William H., and Zingale, Nancy H.. 2006. “Electoral Data for Counties in the United States: Presidential and Congressional Races, 1840–1972.” Ann Arbor, MI: Interuniversity Consortium for Political and Social Research [distributor], 2006-11-13. doi: 10.3886/ICPSR08611.v1.
Cover, Albert D. 1985. “Surge and Decline in Congressional Elections.” Western Political Quarterly 38 (4): 606–19. doi: 10.2307/448615.
Denardo, James. 1987. “Declining Turnout in an Era of Waning Partisanship.” British Journal of Political Science 17 (4): 435–56. doi: 10.1017/S0007123400004865.
Erikson, Robert S. 1988. “The Puzzle of Midterm Loss.” Journal of Politics 50 (4): 1011–29. doi: 10.2307/2131389.
Erikson, Robert S. 2010. “Explaining Midterm Loss: The Tandem Effects of Withdrawn Coattails and Balancing.” Washington, DC: American Political Science Association.
Erikson, Robert S., Folke, Olle, and Snyder, James M.. 2015. “A Gubernatorial Helping Hand? How Governors Affect Presidential Elections.” Journal of Politics 77 (2): 491504.10.1086/680186
Ferejohn, John A., and Calvert, Randall L.. 1984. “Presidential Coattails in a Historical Perspective.” American Journal of Political Science 28 (1): 127–46.10.2307/2110790
Fiorina, Morris P. 1996. Divided Government. Boston: Allyn and Bacon.
Fowler, Anthony. 2015. “Regular Voters, Marginal Voters and the Electoral Effects of Turnout.” Political Science Research and Methods 3 (2): 205–19.
Fraga, Bernard, and Hersh, Eitan. 2011. “Voting Costs and Voter Turnout in Competitive Elections.” Quarterly Journal of Political Science 5 (4): 339–56. doi: 10.1561/100.00010093.
Godbout, Jean-François. 2013. “Turnout and Presidential Coattails in Congressional Elections.” Public Choice 157 (1–2): 333–56. doi: 10.1007/s11127-012-9947-7.
Gomez, Brad T., Hansford, Thomas G., and Krause, George A.. 2007. “The Republicans Should Pray for Rain: Weather, Turnout, and Voting in U.S. Presidential Elections.” Journal of Politics 69 (3): 649–63. doi: 10.1111/j.1468-2508.2007.00565.x.
Hansford, Thomas G., and Gomez, Brad T.. 2010. “Estimating the Electoral Effects of Voter Turnout.” American Political Science Review 104 (2): 268–88. doi: 10.1017/S0003055410000109.
Henderson, John, and Brooks, John. 2016. “Mediating the Electoral Connection: The Information Effects of Voter Signals on Legislative Behavior.” Journal of Politics 78 (3): 653–69.10.1086/685380
Hogan, Robert E. 2005. “Gubernatorial Coattail Effects in State Legislative Elections.” Political Research Quarterly 58 (4): 587–97. doi: 10.1177/106591290505800406.
Interuniversity Consortium for Political and Social Research. 2013. “General Election Data for the United States, 1950–1990.” Ann Arbor, MI: Interuniversity Consortium for Political and Social Research [distributor], 2013-11-22. doi: 10.3886/ICPSR00013.v2.
Keith, Bruce E., Magleby, David, Nelson, Candice, Orr, Elizabeth, Westlye, Mark, and Wolfinger, Raymond. 1992. The Myth of the Independent Voter. Berkeley: University of California Press.
Kernell, Samuel. 1977. “Presidential Popularity and Negative Voting: An Alternative Explanation of the Midterm Congressional Decline of the President’s Party.” American Political Science Review 71 (1): 4466. doi: 10.2307/1956953.
Key, V. O. 1964. Politics, Parties, & Pressure Groups . New York: Crowell.
Klarner, Carl. 2012. “County-Level Congressional Election Results: 1992–1996.”
Kramer, Gerald H. 1983. “The Ecological Fallacy Revisited: Aggregate- Versus Individual-Level Findings on Economics and Elections, and Sociotropic Voting.” American Political Science Review 77 (1): 92111. doi: 10.2307/1956013.
Lublin, David, and Voss, D. Stephen. 2001. “Federal Elections Project.” Washington, DC: American University, and Lexington: University of Kentucky.
Mattei, Franco, and Glasgow, Joshua. 2005. “Presidential Coattails, Incumbency Advantage, and Open Seats: A District-Level Analysis of the 1976–2000 U.S. House Elections.” Electoral Studies 24 (4): 619–41. doi: 10.1016/j.electstud.2004.10.010.
Meredith, Marc. 2013. “Exploiting Friends-and-Neighbors to Estimate Coattail Effects.” American Political Science Review 107 (4): 742–65. doi: 10.1017/S0003055413000439.
Miller, Warren E. 1955. “Presidential Coattails: A Study in Political Myth and Methodology.” Public Opinion Quarterly 19 (4): 353–68.10.1086/266585
Mondak, Jeffery J. 1993. “Presidential Coattails and Open Seats: The District-Level Impact of Heuristic Processing.” American Politics Research 21 (3): 307–19.10.1177/1532673X9302100305
Scheve, Kenneth, and Tomz, Michael. 1999. “Electoral Surprise and the Midterm Loss in US Congressional Elections.” British Journal of Political Science 29 (3): 507–21.10.1017/S000712349900023X
Tufte, Edward R. 1975. “Determinants of the Outcomes of Midterm Congressional Elections.” American Political Science Review 69 (3): 812–26. doi: 10.2307/1958391.
Recommend this journal

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

PS: Political Science & Politics
  • ISSN: 1049-0965
  • EISSN: 1537-5935
  • URL: /core/journals/ps-political-science-and-politics
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *
×
Type Description Title
PDF
Supplementary materials

Rogers supplementary material
Online Appendix

 PDF (256 KB)
256 KB

Metrics

Altmetric attention score

Full text views

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

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed