Congressional Incumbency and the Rise of Split-Ticket Voting
Legislative Studies Quarterly, XXV:365-87
Despite the general recognition that incumbency has influenced voters’ decisions to split their ballots for president and the House, past research has not focused on the specific magnitude of this effect and its responsibility for growing ticket-splitting in the United States. In this study, I find that incumbency was a powerful determinant of the step jump in ticket-splitting that occurred from the 1956–68 to 1972–92 periods. This is in contrast to the weak expansive force exerted by declining partisan intensity in the electorate. Incumbency’s impact, however, was confined to districts where members of the losing presidential party run for reelection; in districts with campaigning incumbents of the winning presidential party, it made for only about the level of ticket-splitting that could be expected in open seats.
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