Incumbent

Last updated

The incumbent is the current holder of an office. This term is usually used in reference to elections, in which races can often be defined as being between an incumbent and non-incumbent(s). For example, in the 2017 Hungarian presidential election, János Áder was the incumbent, because he had been the president in the term before the term for which the election sought to determine the president. A race without an incumbent is referred to as an open seat.

Official someone who holds an office

An official is someone who holds an office in an organization or government and participates in the exercise of authority.

Election process by which a population chooses an individual to hold public office

An election is a formal group decision-making process by which a population chooses an individual to hold public office. Elections have been the usual mechanism by which modern representative democracy has operated since the 17th century. Elections may fill offices in the legislature, sometimes in the executive and judiciary, and for regional and local government. This process is also used in many other private and business organizations, from clubs to voluntary associations and corporations.

2017 Hungarian presidential election

An indirect presidential election was held in Hungary on 13 March 2017. János Áder was elected President of Hungary for a second term.

Contents

Etymology

The word "incumbent" is derived from the Latin verb incumbere, literally meaning "to lean or lay upon" with the present participle stem incumbent-, "leaning a variant of encumber, [1] while encumber is derived from the root cumber, [2] most appropriately defined: "To occupy obstructively or inconveniently; to block fill up with what hinders freedom of motion or action; to burden, load." [3]

Incumbency advantage

In general, incumbents have structural advantages over challengers during elections. The timing of elections may be determined by the incumbent instead of a set schedule. For most political offices, the incumbent often has more name recognition due to their previous work in the office. Incumbents also have easier access to campaign finance, as well as government resources (such as the franking privilege) that can be indirectly used to boost a campaign. An election (especially for a single-member constituency in a legislature) in which no incumbent is running is often called an open seat; because of the lack of incumbency advantage, these are often amongst the most hotly contested races in any election.

In politics, name recognition is the ability a voter has to identify a candidate's name due to a certain amount of previous exposure through various campaigning methods. It can be described as the awareness voters have about specific candidates resulting from various forms of campaign advertising. Some of the advertising methods used by candidates running for various offices are creating posters, making yard signs, bumper stickers and attempting to get media exposure, are a few examples of how they achieve this. Though candidates can achieve high name recognition and exposure, this does not necessarily mean that the average voter has a good understanding of their ideologies, positions and stances on political issues.

Campaign finance

Campaign finance refers to all funds raised to promote candidates, political parties, or policy initiatives and referenda. Political parties, charitable organizations, and political action committees are vehicles used in aggregating funds to keep campaigns alive. "Political finance" is also popular terminology, and is used internationally for its comprehensiveness. Campaign finance deals with "the costs of democracy", a term coined by G. Alexander Heard for his famous analysis of campaign finance in the U.S.

A legislature is a deliberative assembly with the authority to make laws for a political entity such as a country or city. Legislatures form important parts of most governments; in the separation of powers model, they are often contrasted with the executive and judicial branches of government.

When newcomers look to fill an open office, voters tend to compare and contrast the candidates' qualifications, positions on political issues, and personal characteristics in a relatively straightforward way. Elections featuring an incumbent, on the other hand, are, as Guy Molyneux puts it, "fundamentally a referendum on the incumbent." [4] Voters will first grapple with the record of the incumbent. Only if they decide to "fire" the incumbent do they begin to evaluate whether each of the challengers is an acceptable alternative.

A 2017 study in the British Journal of Political Science argues that the incumbency advantage stems from the fact that voters evaluate the incumbent's ideology individually whereas they assume that any challenger shares his party's ideology. [5] This means that the incumbency advantage gets more significant as political polarization increases. [5] A 2017 study in the Journal of Politics found that incumbents have "a far larger advantage" in on-cycle elections than in off-cycle elections. [6]

British Journal of Political Science is a quarterly peer-reviewed academic journal covering all aspects of political science.

The Journal of Politics is a peer-reviewed academic journal of political science established in 1939 and published quarterly by University of Chicago Press on behalf of the Southern Political Science Association.

Off-year election general election in the United States which is held in odd-numbered years when neither a presidential election nor a midterm election takes place

An off-year election is a general election in the United States which is held when neither a presidential election nor a midterm election takes place. The term "off-year" may also be used to refer to midterm election years as well.

Sophomore surge

Political analysts in the United States and United Kingdom have noted the existence of a sophomore surge (not known as such in the United Kingdom) in which first term representatives see an increase in votes in their first election. This phenomenon is said to bring an advantage of up to 10% for first term representatives, which increases the incumbency advantage.

A sophomore surge is a term used in the political science of the United States Congress that refers to an increase in votes that congressional candidates usually receive when running for their first re-election. The phrase has been adopted in Australia by psephologist Malcolm Mackerras who is well known for his electoral pendulums.

Anti-incumbency

However, there exist scenarios in which the incumbency factor itself leads to the downfall of the incumbent. Popularly known as the anti-incumbency factor, situations of this kind occur when the incumbent has proven himself not worthy of office during his tenure and the challengers demonstrate this to the voters. An anti-incumbency factor can also be responsible for bringing down incumbents who have been in office for many successive terms despite performance indicators, simply because the voters are convinced by the challengers of a need for change. It is also argued that the holders of extensively powerful offices are subject to immense pressure which leaves them politically impotent and unable to command enough public confidence for re-election; such is the case, for example, with the Presidency of France. [7]

Nick Panagakis, a pollster, coined what he dubbed the incumbent rule in 1989—that any voter who claims to be undecided towards the end of the election will probably end up voting for a challenger. [8]

See also

Related Research Articles

Theories of political behavior, as an aspect of political science, attempt to quantify and explain the influences that define a person's political views, ideology, and levels of political participation. Broadly speaking, behavior is political whenever individuals or groups try to influence or escape the influence of others. Political behavior is the subset of human behavior that involves politics and powers. Theorists who have had an influence on this field include Karl Deutsch and Theodor Adorno.

Opinion poll type of survey

An opinion poll, often simply referred to as a poll or a survey, is a human research survey of public opinion from a particular sample. Opinion polls are usually designed to represent the opinions of a population by conducting a series of questions and then extrapolating generalities in ratio or within confidence intervals.

In the political science of the United States Congress, slurge is the arithmetic mean of retirement slump and sophomore surge. The term was coined by John Alford and David R. Brady in a 1988 academic paper.

A push poll is an interactive marketing technique, most commonly employed during political campaigning, in which an individual or organization attempts to manipulate or alter prospective voters' views/beliefs under the guise of conducting an opinion poll.

Elections in the United States

Elections in the United States are held for government officials at the federal, state, and local levels. At the federal level, the nation's head of state, the President, is elected indirectly by the people of each state, through an Electoral College. Today, these electors almost always vote with the popular vote of their state. All members of the federal legislature, the Congress, are directly elected by the people of each state. There are many elected offices at state level, each state having at least an elective Governor and legislature. There are also elected offices at the local level, in counties, cities, towns, townships, boroughs, and villages. According to a study by political scientist Jennifer Lawless, there were 519,682 elected officials in the United States as of 2012.

An independent voter, often also called an unaffiliated voter in the United States, is a voter who does not align themselves with a political party. An independent is variously defined as a voter who votes for candidates on issues rather than on the basis of a political ideology or partisanship; a voter who does not have long-standing loyalty to, or identification with, a political party; a voter who does not usually vote for the same political party from election to election; or a voter who self-describes as an independent.

Congressional stagnation is an American political theory that attempts to explain the high rate of incumbency re-election to the United States House of Representatives. In recent years this rate has been well over 90 per cent, with rarely more than 5-10 incumbents losing their House seats every election cycle. The theory has existed since the 1970s, when political commentators were beginning to notice the trend, with political science author and professor David Mayhew first writing about the "vanishing marginals" theory in 1974.

Bradley effect theory about discrepancies between opinion polls and election results in the United States

The Bradley effect is a theory concerning observed discrepancies between voter opinion polls and election outcomes in some United States government elections where a white candidate and a non-white candidate run against each other. The theory proposes that some voters who intend to vote for the white candidate would nonetheless tell pollsters that they are undecided or likely to vote for the non-white candidate. It was named after Los Angeles Mayor Tom Bradley, an African-American who lost the 1982 California governor's race despite being ahead in voter polls going into the elections.

2007 Indianapolis mayoral election

The Indianapolis mayoral election of 2007 took place on November 6, 2007. Voters elected the Mayor of Indianapolis, members of the Indianapolis City-County Council, as well as several other local officials. Incumbent Democrat Bart Peterson was seeking a third term. Republicans nominated former Marine Greg Ballard to run against Peterson. In what was called, "the biggest upset in Indiana political history", Ballard defeated Peterson 51% to 47%.

<i>The Keys to the White House</i> book by Allan Lichtman

The Keys to the White House is a 1996 book about a historically based prediction system for determining the outcome of presidential elections in the United States. The system, inspired by earthquake research, was developed in 1981 by American historian Allan Lichtman and Russian scientist Vladimir Keilis-Borok, an authority on the mathematics of prediction models. The model has a record of accurate forecasts but has been criticised by some statisticians as including too many predictors to be a sound model and for forecasting only the winner of elections rather than the vote share of the winning party.

The virtual incumbent or quasi-incumbent is the candidate in an election who campaigns as though he or she currently holds the office being contested, though the actual incumbent is not running for re-election. Traditionally, the quasi-incumbent will be the nominee from the party of the sitting office-holder. In the 2008 U.S. presidential election, however, virtual incumbency was also determined less formally, either by the policies of the actual candidates or the state of the polls.

The strategy of assumed incumbency is based on a recognition of the value of incumbency in a political campaign. A high correlation between election and incumbency has been demonstrated in congressional races. The success rate of incumbent members of the U.S. House of Representatives seeking re-election averaged 93.5 percent during the 1960s and 1970s. Statistically, the initial edge for the incumbent candidate is 2-4 percent of the vote.

2012 United States elections Election in the United States on 2012

The 2012 United States elections included many federal elections on Election Day, November 6, 2012, most prominently the 57th presidential election, Senate elections, and House of Representatives elections. It also featured 13 state and territorial governors' races; state and territorial legislature races, special elections, and various other state, territorial, and local races and referenda on votes held in November as well as throughout the year.

2010 United States House of Representatives elections in New Mexico

The 2010 congressional elections in New Mexico were held on November 2, 2010 and determined New Mexico's representation in the United States House of Representatives. Representatives are elected for two-year terms; the winners of the election served in the 111th Congress, which began on January 4, 2009 ended on January 3, 2011.

Incumbency is one of the most researched and debated topics within the realm of political science. However, the research regarding appointed U.S. senators and the incumbency advantage is not nearly as vast. In this research, the relationship between the number of months served as an appointed U.S. senator and the percentage of vote that appointed senator receives in their initial election is studied. It is hypothesized that the longer an appointee has served before an election, the higher percentage of vote that appointee will receive. To do this, data was compiled from the United States congressional archives consisting of appointed U.S. senators, the percentage of vote those appointed senators won in their election after their appointment, as well as the number of months served between their appointment and election. Discovering a relationship between months served and the vote percentages received will add to the scholarship of incumbency, and more specifically, how the discipline of political science views appointed U.S. senators.

2018 Tasmanian state election state election in Tasmania, Australia

The 2018 Tasmanian state election was held on 3 March 2018 to elect all 25 members of the Tasmanian House of Assembly.

2015 Dallas municipal election

The 2015 Dallas municipal election was an election to determine the mayor in Dallas, Texas. The election day was May 9, 2015, and if a runoff election had been required, it would have been held on June 13, 2015. Incumbent Democratic Mayor Mike Rawlings ran and won re-election to a second term in office against challengers Marcos Ronquillo, an attorney, and write-in candidate Richard Sheridan, a retired engineer and anti-gay government activist.

2017 Boston mayoral election

The Boston mayoral election of 2017 was held on Tuesday, November 7, 2017, to elect the mayor of Boston, Massachusetts. Incumbent Democratic mayor Marty J. Walsh won re-election to a second term, defeating District 7 City Councilor Tito Jackson, and two long-shot candidates, Robert Cappucci and Joseph Wiley.

References

  1. OED (1989), p. 834
  2. OED (1989), p. 218
  3. OED (1989), p. 124
  4. Guy Molyneux, The Big Five-Oh, The American Prospect, 1 October 2004.
  5. 1 2 Peskowitz, Zachary (2017-05-01). "Ideological Signaling and Incumbency Advantage". British Journal of Political Science: 1–24. doi:10.1017/S0007123416000557. ISSN   0007-1234.
  6. de Benedictis-Kessner, Justin (2017-12-07). "Off-Cycle and Out of Office: Election Timing and the Incumbency Advantage". The Journal of Politics. 80: 119–132. doi:10.1086/694396. ISSN   0022-3816.
  7. Robert Tombs (May 2, 2017). "France's Presidency Is Too Powerful to Work". Polling Report. Retrieved December 3, 2017.
  8. Nick Panagakis (February 27, 1989). "Incumbent Rule". Polling Report. Retrieved February 5, 2016.

Sources

Further reading