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Incumbency and Responsiveness in Local Elections

Jessica Trounstine, Ph.D, Department of Political Science, UC Merced
Mar 01, 2012 from 12:00 PM to 01:30 PM (America/Los_Angeles / UTC-800)
1130 K Street, Room LL3
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It is well established that incumbents win reelection at high rates.  But the source and effect of the advantage remains unsettled.  Some scholars argue that incumbents’ experience in office and their responsiveness to constituents generates electoral victories.  As a result the advantage can be viewed as a sign of successful representation.  Alternatively, Trounstine argues that certain institutions can increase the probability of reelection and decrease responsiveness to the general electorate.  Using data from more than 4,000 cities Trounstine provides evidence that low-participation and low-information environments increase the proportion of incumbents who run for reelection and the proportion who win.  Trounstine shows that these low-turnout and low-information environments generate spending patterns that benefit particular subgroups in the population.

Jessica Trounstine is an Assistant Professor of Political Science at University of California, Merced.  She studies sub-national politics in the United States with a concentration on cities.  Her work analyzes the process and quality of representation.  She is particularly interested in understanding how political institutions enhance or limit the ability of residents to achieve responsive government. Trounstine takes a mixed method approach to her scholarship including using historical analysis, qualitative data, and quantitative methods.  Trounstine's publications include Political Monopolies in American Cities: The Rise and Fall of Bosses and Reformers (University of Chicago Press) and articles in the American Journal of Political Science, the Journal of Politics, Legislative Studies Quarterly, and American Politics Research.  She received her B.A. in Political Science from the University of California, Berkeley in 1998 and a Ph.D. in Political Science in 2004, from the University of California, San Diego.  She was an Assistant Professor of Politics and Public Policy at Princeton University from 2005-2009.


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