The Electoral Origins Of Divided Government: Competition In U.s. House Elections, 19461988

1st Edition

Gary Jacobson

Routledge
Published September 13, 2019
Reference - 152 Pages
ISBN 9780367291662 - CAT# K430647

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Summary

Is divided government—a Republican president and a Democratic Congress—the product of diminished competition for seats in the U.S. House of Representatives? In this groundbreaking study, Gary C. Jacobson uses a detailed analysis of the evolution of competition in postwar House elections to argue that the problems Republicans face in seeking House seats are political rather than structural. With abundant graphic illustration, he shows that divided government is only one piece of a much broader electoral pattern that is creating new opportunities as well as new barriers to partisan change in the House, He examines shifts in the incumbency advantage, campaign finance practices, the "swing ratio," and other related phenomena, but he turns up little evidence that they are to blame for divided government. More important, he argues, are trends in partisan opposition: the quality of candidates, campaigns, issues, and career strategies. As individual candidates and campaigns have become more important in winning elections, the weakness of Republican House candidacies has prevented the party from taking more seats away from the Democrats. Jacobson contends that the House is not nearly as insulated from electoral change as recent elections might suggest. The notion that House elections are no longer capable of reflecting popular preferences is, he concludes, simply wrong.

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