November 23, 2009

"Are Mapmakers Able to Target and Protect Congressional Incumbents?"

Chad Murphy and Antoine Yoshinaka have written this article for American Politics Research. Here is the abstract:

    Can those in charge of redistricting foster electoral competitiveness by targeting some congressional incumbents while protecting others from potent competition? We provide an answer by presenting the dynamic redistricting thesis, which holds that the type of redistricting plan and the time passed since its enactment affect the emergence of high-quality congressional candidates. We demonstrate that the effect of redistricting on competition depends on whether incumbents belong to the party that controlled the redistricting process. We show that partisan plans have predictable systematic effects, with incumbents in the minority more likely to face strong opponents. Moreover, the effect of redistricting on competition is highest at the beginning of the 10-year redistricting cycle and diminishes in a nonlinear fashion over the course of the cycle. The implications of our theory and findings for democracy are apparent: Institutions are an important determinant of the variation of electoral competition across time and space.

Posted by Rick Hasen at November 23, 2009 12:50 PM