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The incumbent is the current holder of an office or position, usually in relation to an election. For example, in an election for president, the incumbent is the person holding or acting in the office of president before the election, whether seeking re-election or not. In some situations, there may not be an incumbent at time of an election for that office or position (for example, when a new electoral division is created), in which case the office or position is regarded as vacant or open. In the United States, an election without an incumbent is referred to as an open seat or open contest.
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,while encumber is derived from the root cumber, most appropriately defined: "To occupy obstructively or inconveniently; to block fill up with what hinders freedom of motion or action; to burden, load."
In general, an incumbent has a political advantage over challengers at elections. Except when the timing of elections is determined by a constitution or by legislation, the incumbent may have the right to determine the date of an election.
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 the incumbent's re-election campaign.
In the United States, an election (especially for a single-member constituency in a legislature) in which an incumbent is not seeking re-election 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.[ citation needed ] Also, an open contest is created when the term of office is limited, as in the case of terms of the U.S. president being restricted to two four-year terms, and the incumbent is prohibited from recontesting.
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."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.This means that the incumbency advantage gets more significant as political polarization increases. 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.
In relation to business operations and competition, an incumbent supplier is usually the supplier who currently supplies the needs of a customer and therefore has an advantageous position in relation to maintaining this role or agreeing a new contract in comparison with competing businesses.
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.
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.Voters who experience the negative economic shock of a loss of income are less likely to vote for an incumbent candidate than those who have not experienced such a shock.
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.
In France, the phenomenon is known by the catchphrase "Sortez les sortants" (get out the outgoing [representatives]!) which was the slogan of the Poujadist movement in the 1956 French legislative election.
The 1994 United States Senate elections held November 8, 1994 in which the Republican Party took control of the Senate from the Democrats. Like for most other midterm elections, the opposition, this time being the Republicans, held the traditional advantage. The congressional Republicans campaigned against the early presidency of Bill Clinton, including his unsuccessful health care plan. The Republicans successfully defended all of their seats and won eight from the Democrats by defeating the incumbent Senators Harris Wofford (Pennsylvania) and Jim Sasser (Tennessee), in addition to picking up six open seats in Arizona, Maine, Michigan, Ohio, Oklahoma, and Tennessee. Notably, since Sasser's defeat coincided with a Republican victory in the special election to replace Al Gore, Tennessee's Senate delegation switched from entirely Democratic to entirely Republican in a single election. That would not happen again until the Democrats swept both Senate seats in the Georgia runoffs in 2021.
The 1990 United States Senate elections were held on Tuesday, November 6, 1990. The Democratic Party increased its majority with a net gain of one seat from the Republican Party. The election took place in the middle of President George H. W. Bush's term, and, as with most other midterm elections, the party not holding the presidency gained seats in Congress.
The 1986 United States Senate elections was an election for the United States Senate in the middle of Ronald Reagan's second presidential term. The Republicans had to defend an unusually large number of freshman Senate incumbents who had been elected on President Ronald Reagan's coattails in 1980. Democrats won a net of eight seats, defeating seven freshman incumbents, picking up two Republican-held open seats and regaining control of the Senate for the first time since January 1981. The party not controlling the presidency gained seats, as usually occurs in mid-term elections.
The 1972 United States Senate elections coincided with the landslide re-election of Republican President Richard Nixon. Despite Nixon's landslide victory, Democrats increased their majority by two seats. After the elections, Democrats held 56 seats and Republicans held 42 seats, with 1 Conservative and 1 independent senator. These were the first elections in which all citizens at least 18 years of age could vote due to the 1971 passage of the 26th Amendment.
The 2006 United States Senate elections were held on November 7, 2006, with all 33 Class 1 Senate seats being contested. The term of office for those elected in 2006 ran from January 3, 2007, to January 3, 2013. Prior to the election, the Republican Party controlled 55 of the 100 Senate seats.
Presidential elections were held in Somaliland on 14 April 2003. The result was a victory for incumbent President Dahir Riyale Kahin, who won by a margin of just 0.01%. The outcome was initially rejected by the main opposition, which led to violence and a subsequent ban on public protests for a ten-day period starting on 22 April. Nevertheless, the International Crisis Group labeled the election a democratic "milestone" for the breakaway state. On 11 May the Somaliland Supreme Court endorsed Kahin's victory. He was sworn in on 16 May.
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.
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.
The 2004 United States Senate election in South Dakota was held on November 2, 2004. Incumbent Democratic U.S. Senator and Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle ran for re-election to a fourth term, but was narrowly defeated by Republican John Thune.
The 2004 United States elections were held on November 2. Republican President George W. Bush won re-election and Republicans retained control of Congress.
The Massachusetts general election, 2008 were held on November 4, 2008 throughout Massachusetts. Among the elections which took place were those for the office of President of the United States, John Kerry's seat in the Senate, all ten seats in the Massachusetts delegation to the House of Representatives, all eight seats in the Massachusetts Governor's Council, and all of the seats of the Massachusetts Senate and Massachusetts House of Representatives. There were also three ballot questions: to eliminate the commonwealth's income tax; to decriminalize possession of a small amount of marijuana; and to prohibit greyhound racing. Numerous local elections also took place throughout the state.
A resign-to-run law is a law that required the current holder of an office to resign from that office before he can run for another office. This is distinct from a dual mandate prohibition, where a person has to resign from their old office to assume the new office, rather than to run for the new office. Resign-to-run laws exist in several jurisdictions, including five US states.
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.
The 2012 United States elections took place on November 6, 2012. Democratic President Barack Obama won election to a second term, though the Republican Party retained control of the House of Representatives.
The mayoral election of 1989 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania was held on Tuesday, November 7, 1989. The incumbent mayor, Sophie Masloff of the Democratic Party chose to run for her first full term after having ascended the mayor's office from the position of President of City Council upon the death of long-time mayor Richard Caliguiri. While she met challengers in the Democratic primary, she was uncontested in the general election.
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.
The elections in 2012 were scheduled for seven Vidhan Sabhas and several local elections were also conducted. The 14th presidential election to elect the 13th president of the republic was also held in 2012. The tenure of the legislative assemblies of Goa, Gujarat, Himachal Pradesh, Manipur, Punjab, Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand were to expire during the year. The Election Commission of India issued the dates for the elections in Manipur, Punjab, Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh and Goa to take place in the first quarter of the year. Whereas the elections were held in Himachal Pradesh and Gujarat in the last quarter of the year.
The 2019 United States gubernatorial elections were held on November 5, 2019, in Kentucky and Mississippi, and November 16, 2019, in Louisiana. These elections formed part of the 2019 United States elections. The last regular gubernatorial elections for all three states were in 2015. The Democrats had to defend an incumbent in Louisiana, while the Republicans had to defend an incumbent in Kentucky plus an open seat in Mississippi. Though all three seats up were in typically Republican states, the election cycle became unexpectedly competitive: Kentucky and Louisiana were seen as highly contested races; and Mississippi's race ultimately became closer than usual, despite being seen as favorable for the Republicans.
The 2020 Wisconsin Fall General Election was held in the U.S. state of Wisconsin on November 3, 2020. All of Wisconsin's eight seats in the United States House of Representatives were up for election, as well as sixteen seats in the Wisconsin State Senate and all 99 seats in the Wisconsin State Assembly. Voters also chose ten electors to represent them in the Electoral College, which then participated in selecting the president of the United States. The 2020 Fall Partisan Primary was held on August 11, 2020.
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