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      Campaign Rhetoric and the Incumbency Advantage

      1 , 2 , 3
      American Politics Research
      SAGE Publications

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          Abstract

          The congressional incumbency advantage reflects an inequity in competition—candidates receive an electoral edge simply because they hold office. Scholars have identified an array of factors that contribute to the incumbency advantage; however, the role of electoral campaigns has been largely ignored. We argue that campaigns are a mechanism through which the incumbency advantage works. All else constant, incumbents focus their campaigns on factors that reflect their standing position, such as their familiarity to voters and actions taken for their district/state. Voters consequently rely on such incumbency factors when making their decisions. The outcome is challengers are at an extreme disadvantage, and campaigns offer scant substantive engagement. We offer evidence for these dynamics with a large-scale content analysis of campaign websites and an experiment. In so doing, we highlight a challenge to theories of democratic representation that focus on equal competition and/or substantive campaign engagement.

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          Most cited references22

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          Framing Public Opinion in Competitive Democracies

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            Learning More from Political Communication Experiments: Pretreatment and Its Effects

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              The Impact of Gender Stereotyped Evaluations on Support for Women Candidates

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                Author and article information

                Contributors
                (View ORCID Profile)
                Journal
                American Politics Research
                American Politics Research
                SAGE Publications
                1532-673X
                1552-3373
                January 2020
                January 30 2019
                January 2020
                : 48
                : 1
                : 22-43
                Affiliations
                [1 ]Northwestern University, Evanston, IL, USA
                [2 ]High Point University, NC, USA
                [3 ]Oberlin College, OH, USA
                Article
                10.1177/1532673X18822314
                9230d179-9303-4def-aa70-9df4643732f7
                © 2020

                http://journals.sagepub.com/page/policies/text-and-data-mining-license


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