The Politics of Congressional Elections is the most authoritative and accessible introduction available on congressional elections and the electoral process. By pairing historical data analysis and original research with fundamental concepts of representation and responsibility, Carson and Jacobson help students develop the tools to evaluate Congress, as well as their own role in the electoral process.
The eleventh edition offers an engaging examination of congressional candidates, campaigns, and elections by incorporating coverage of the most recent elections and the changing roles of voters, incumbents, challengers, and campaign contributions. This edition also highlights the impact of the January 6th insurrection, inflation and the economy, the Russian invasion of Ukraine, infrastructure legislation, and the narrowing majorities in both chambers. Brought completely up-to-date with the latest data from the American National Election Study, the Cooperative Election Study, and the Federal Election Commission, and including coverage and analysis of the 2020 and 2022 elections, this seminal work continues to offer a systematic account of what goes on in congressional elections. Moreover, the authors’ framing demonstrates how electoral politics reflect and shape other components of the American political system, with profound consequences for representative government.
Key revision highlights include:
Jamie L. Carson is the UGA Athletic Association Professor of Public and International Affairs II in the Department of Political Science at the University of Georgia. He received his PhD from Michigan State University in 2003, where he was a fellow in the Political Institutions and Public Choice Program. Carson’s research interests include American politics with a specific emphasis on the U.S. Congress, congressional elections, separation of powers, and American political development. His most recent books include Nationalized Politics: Evaluating Electoral Politics Across Time (with Joel Sievert and Ryan Williamson) and Change and Continuity in the 2020 and 2022 Elections (with John Aldrich, Brad Gomez, and Jennifer Merolla).
Gary C. Jacobson is Distinguished Emeritus Professor of Political Science at the University of California, San Diego. He received his PhD from Yale University in 1972 and has served on the Council of the American Political Science Association and on the Board of Overseers of National Election Studies. Jacobson's field of interest is American national politics, with a subfield focus on Congress and congressional elections, and his current research is on the electoral basis of partisan polarization in Congress. Among books he has authored or coauthored are Money in Congressional Elections, The Electoral Origins of Divided Government, and The Logic of American Politics.
List of Figures
List of Tables
2. The Context
The Constitutional Framework
Redistricting between Censuses
The Republican Advantage in House Districts
States as Electoral Units
Social and Political Contexts
3. Congressional Candidates
The Incumbency Factor
Measuring the Value of Incumbency
The Vanishing Marginals
Sources of the Incumbency Advantage
The Institutional Characteristics of Congress
Changes in Voting Behavior
The Variability of the Incumbency Advantage
Discouraging the Opposition
Money in Congressional Elections
The Connection between Money and Success
Why Campaign Money Is More Important to Challengers Than to Incumbents
The Career in the District
4. Congressional Campaigns
Contributions to Candidates
PACs and the Pivotal 1994 Election
Contributions from Other Members of Congress
Self-Financing by Candidates
Fund-Raising Tactics and Donors
Independent, Voter-Education, and Issue-Advocacy Campaigns
Candidates for Open Seats
5. Congressional Voters
Turnout in Congressional Elections
Partisanship in Congressional Elections
Alternative Interpretations of Party Identification
Partisanship and Voting
Partisanship and Incumbency
Information and Voting
Recall and Recognition of Candidates
Changing Evaluations of Incumbents
6. National Politics and Congressional Elections
Political Interpretations of Congressional Elections
Models of Aggregate Congressional Election Results
National Conditions and Strategic Politics
House Elections, 1992–2022
The 2022 Midterm Election
Senate Elections, 1992–2022
The 2022 Senate Elections
7. Elections, Representation, and the Politics of Congress
Constituents, Interests, and Causes
Representation by Referendum
Serving the Organized
Responsiveness without Responsibility
The Congressional Parties: Decline and Revival
The Revival of Party Cohesion, 1980–2022
Ideological Polarization in Congress and the Electorate
Polarization in Presidential Support
Party Polarization: The Electoral Connection
Diverging Electoral Constituencies
Chicken or Egg?
The Downside of Strong Party Government
The Public’s Evaluations of Congress
2024 and Beyond: Geography, Demography, and Nationalized Politics
About the Authors
Carson and Jacobson offer the most up-to-date and comprehensive treatment of congressional elections available. Full of analyses that are both interesting to specialists and accessible to non-specialists, the text illuminates key developments and puts them in historical context. Readers will learn not just what has changed in congressional elections but why it matters for national politics and policy.
The Politics of Congressional Elections has long been a valuable resource for scholars, students, and anyone else interested in elections. This edition is no exception as Carson and Jacobson provide thorough, thoughtful, and accessible analyses and discussions on a wide range of topics.
Carson and Jacobson provide the definitive account of congressional elections and how they influence the larger American political system. The authors have done a commendable job of balancing both rigor and approachability such that the text can be of value to both researchers and students alike. The updates to this most recent edition ensure that Carson and Jacobson will be required reading for anyone who wants to understand the contemporary Congress and its electoral politics.
The Politics of Congressional Elections once again provides simple, straightforward, yet detailed, analysis of a complex and ever-changing electoral environment. This book continues to be a must-read for anyone interested in congressional elections and their influence on all facets of American politics.
Carson and Jacobson’s The Politics of Congressional Elections remains the gold standard in texts about legislative elections and their implications. This edition, updated to include the 2022 midterm cycle, offers important insight into the increasing nationalization of elections and the effects of these dynamics on how Congress does (and does not) work. It is a must-read for students and scholars alike.