Measuring the Incumbency Advantage

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.

  1. 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:

Measuring the Incumbency Advantage Unit II Paper

Go to, which is the website for the Center for Responsive Politics, an organization that tracks campaign contributions. Please do the following:

  1. Click on the Menu, then choose Congressional Elections. In the STATE search box, search for the following states: Texas, Georgia and New Jersey.
  2. For each state, present the rate of incumbent success for House seats (e.g., the # of incumbent winners/incumbents running] for the 2012, 2014 and 2016 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!
  3. Did you find any contribution differences between the incumbents and challengers in the states? Provide examples and discuss.
  4. Find the rate of incumbent success for ALL (meaning all states, not just the three listed for House incumbency) Senate races for 2012, 2014, & 2016. Recall, only one-third the of Senate is up for election in any given year.

Your data should be presented in a spreadsheet or table, and be accompanied by a narrative explanation of you findings.

General Guidelines for Written Assignments

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.

Assignments are due as listed in the course schedule, by 11:59pm. Late papers will be accepted for half-credit.

I highly recommend that you write your papers on a separate word processing program, and then upload to eCampus, rather than composing directly on eCampus. Technology has a way of causing problems when you least need them! Additionally, if eCampus is down when a paper is due, all you need to do is email the document to me (

Where necessary, others’ work must be appropriately cited.

Measuring the Incumbency Advantage

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