The Enduring Effects of Competitive Elections


Evans HK, Ensley MJ, Carmines EG. The Enduring Effects of Competitive Elections. Journal of Elections, Public Opinion, and Parties. 2014;24 (4) :455-472.


Research on U.S. congressional elections has placed great emphasis on the role of competitiveness, which is associated with high levels of campaign spending, media coverage, and interest group and party involvement. Competitive campaigns have been found to increase citizens' participation, engagement and learning. However, little is known about whether the effects of competitive campaigns have enduring consequences for citizens' attitudes and behavior. Analyzing a survey of citizens conducted one year after the 2006 congressional elections that includes an oversample of respondents from competitive House races, we examine whether exposure to a competitive House campaign affects voters' political knowledge and political interest as well as their consumption of political news. We find that competitive elections have positive effects that endure for at least a year beyond the campaign season, reinforcing the idea that political competition plays a robust role in American representative democracy.

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Last updated on 11/19/2014