Electing America’s Governors: The Politics of Executive by David L. Leal (auth.)

By David L. Leal (auth.)

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The interpretation of the expenditure variable is straightforward: if a candidate increases the share of expenditures by 10 percent, her general election vote increases by nearly four and one-half points. The primary vote percentage measure is also statistically significant, as it was for incumbents. Substantively, however, it is about two and one-half times less important for open seat candidates than for incumbents. In addition, the model shows that open seat candidates who are of the same party as the president suffer at the polls by over 2 percent.

Patterson (1982) used an adjusted version of this model with 1978 gubernatorial data, he found that none of the variables reached statistical significance. 38 ELECTING AMERICA’S GOVERNORS The third column shows the results from the more elaborated OLS model. These results also support the “profligate incumbent” thesis (Stewart 1989), whereby incumbent spending plays no role in election outcomes but challenger spending is important. All three OLS models, regardless of the variables used, consistently underestimated the impact of incumbent spending, just as predicted by Ansolabehere and Snyder (1995).

Kenney (1983a) used a different approach by combining incumbent and open seat candidates into one regression. He found that incumbents and candidates of the same party as the incumbent were not affected by changes in state unemployment, inflation, and per capita income from 1946 to 1980. Kone and Winters (1993) studied over 400 gubernatorial elections and found only weak evidence of the role of taxes. Only changes in general sales taxes appeared to influence outcomes, and while governors were punished for tax increases, they were not rewarded for decreases.

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