The Roots of Careerism in the U.S. House of Representatives
Legislative Studies Quarterly XXIV:489-510

In this paper we reexamine the rise of careerism in the United States House of Representatives. Following the insights of Gilmour and Rothstein (1993) and Kiewiet and Zeng (1993), we model careerism as a combination of the desire of incumbents to serve in the House for long periods and the ability to be reelected. The focus in this paper is on the probability that incumbents seek reelection, and conditional on their decision to seek reelection, the probability they will be elected. The results of our analysis show that different factors influence electoral safety and the desire to continue holding office. Namely, institutional innovations such as the Australian ballot and primaries slightly decreased the probability of seeking reelection. In addition, bringing pork home and a strong partisan advantage in the district increased the probability of renomination. In regard to seat safety, incumbent party advantage, especially post-1896, increased the probability of winning reelection, as did economic prosperity.

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