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Westlye: Senate elections and campaign intensity

Disclaimer. Don't rely on these old notes in lieu of reading the literature, but they can jog your memory. As a grad student long ago, my peers and I collaborated to write and exchange summaries of political science research. I posted them to a wiki-style website. "Wikisum" is now dead but archived here. I cannot vouch for these notes' accuracy, nor can I even say who wrote them. If you have more recent summaries to add to this collection, send them my way I guess. Sorry for the ads; they cover the costs of keeping this online.

Westlye. 1991. Senate elections and campaign intensity.

Main Argument

Senate elections come in two flavors: hard-fought and low-key. Low-key elections look a lot like House elections; Hard-fought elections look like real elections. So why are hard-fought elections so common in the Senate but so rare in the House? Two reasons: They are more competitive (better challengers) and the incumbency advantage is much weaker.

So the main reason that Senate campaigns have better challengers (and thus more hard-fought campaigns) is that you can't gerrymander Senate districts, and they're more demographically diverse--there's a closer partisan balance (almost every state has elected statewide officials from both parties in the past 25 years). Thus, more high-quality candidates are willing to run, because the incumbent has less advantage. Plus, donors are more willing to invest in Senators, since one Senate vote is worth four House votes.

Empirics

Data

Elections from 1968-1984. Wants to explain variations in campaign intensity.

Measuring Campaign Intensity (ch 2)

Measuring campaign intensity is difficult. "Intensity" refers to the level of information disbursed in a campaign. All of the following have flaws:

Research on similar subjects

Tags

Westlye, Mark (author)Political ScienceAmerican PoliticsVotingCongress (U.S.)CongressElections

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