Don’t Discount Character
THE SOURCE: “Candidates Matter: Policy and Quality Differences in Congressional Elections” by Matthew K. Buttice and Walter J. Stone, in The Journal of Politics, July 2012.
What determines whether a candidate for congressional office makes it to Capitol Hill? Your average political scientist will tell you that the national-level popularity of the candidate’s party is huge. Money and incumbency also play important roles. But the quality and specific positions of the candidate? Pshaw! Political scientist Walter J. Stone and PhD candidate Matthew K. Buttice, both of the University of California, Davis, beg to differ.
They studied congressional candidates in 155 House districts in the 2006 elections. To gauge the quality and ideological positions of the candidates, they interviewed state legislators and 2004 national convention delegates. (They defined candidate quality as a mixture of governing ability, integrity, and leadership prowess.) They also used a survey to assess the views of voters living in those districts.
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