Unit II Paper: Measuring the Incumbency Advantage
As an institution, Congress isn’t rated very highly by Americans, yet the incumbency re-election rate is extraordinarily high. See the following:
For this Unit II paper, I want you to take a deeper dive into the Incumbency Advantage, exploring the concept and its elements, and do a little data mining to find evidence of it over time across three (3) states.
Discuss the incumbency advantage. What is it, what are its components, and why is it so pervasive in US Congressional Elections? Incorporate the above articles, as well as the following:
Go to www.opensecrets.org, which is the website for the Center for Responsive Politics, an organization that tracks campaign contributions. You are to look at the incumbency results for three (3) states: Florida, Wisconsin and Ohio, over three (3) election years: 2014, 2016, 2018. Here’s how to collect the data:
(1) Go to opensecrets.org
(2) Click on the menu icon (the four white bars in a dark blue field)
(3) Choose a state, and a year. I suggest doing one state at a time, for each of the three years.
(4) Click on the “+ Show Candidates.” This will show the candidates for each district, and you will CLEARLY see who the incumbent was, and if s/he won or not. Count the number of districts for that year in which an incumbent ran (not ones where there was no incumbent, since that doesn’t affect the advantage). Count the # of incumbents that won. There’s your incumbent success rate: IW/IR. Show your work and display the success percentages.
For each state, present the rate of incumbent success for House seats (e.g., the # of incumbent winners/incumbents running] for the 2014, 2016 and 2018 elections. When you click on each district, you will see who the incumbent is. If no incumbent is listed, the seat was “open,” and should not be included in your calculations. Track the rate of incumbent success for each state over each of the four elections. Show your work!
Did you find any contribution differences between the incumbents and challengers in the states? Provide examples and discuss.
Your data should be presented in a spreadsheet or table, and be accompanied by a narrative explanation of you findings.
Remember the General Guidelines for Written Assignments:
All papers must be typewritten, with reasonable font sizes and margins (12pt maximum; 1-inch margins). Unless otherwise stated, papers should be at least 3-5 pages in length, double-spaced, and submitted via eCampus.
Papers are required to include introductions and conclusions. Assume when writing that the reader has no prior information on your topic — then you will explain and fulfill each prompt completely. Please see the grading rubric to ensure that you cover all of the specifics.