Does the Party Matter? Endorsements in Congressional Primaries

By Dominguez, Casey B. K. | Political Research Quarterly, September 2011 | Go to article overview

Does the Party Matter? Endorsements in Congressional Primaries


Dominguez, Casey B. K., Political Research Quarterly


Abstract

Research suggests that endorsements should affect outcomes in low-information elections such as primaries, but that hypothesis has not yet been tested empirically. Based on a survey of 2002 congressional campaigns, this article describes the universe of individuals and groups that offer endorsements to primary candidates and analyzes their effects on primary election results. It finds that a primary candidate's share of the partisan endorsements issued in the race significantly affects the candidate's vote share, even controlling for campaign funds and candidate quality. Implications for theories of candidate emergence and success are discussed.

Keywords

primary election, political party, congressional election, endorsement, party network, candidate emergence

This article investigates whether endorsements from groups and prominent individuals affect the outcomes of congressional primary elections. Although some scholarship (Cohen et al. 2008) has shown that endorsements do appear to help presidential candidates win their nominations, we know very little about whether endorsements have the same types of effects in races for lower level offices. This is an important omission because it is in races such as congressional primaries, to which the press pays little attention (Fowler and Goldstein 2006) and in which voters have less information about the candidates, that we might expect elite cues such as endorsements to have the biggest impact (Lupia 1994). Moreover, little attention has been paid to primaries as explicitly partisan contests, even though there are strong reasons to suspect that more partisan endorsements might have a bigger effect on primary electorates than nonpartisan endorsements.

Relying on a survey of 2002 primary campaigns, this study describes the prominent role that group and individual endorsements play in congressional primaries and estimates their impact on primary outcomes. It finds that partisan endorsements have a strong effect on primary outcomes, even controlling for campaign spending and candidate quality. If it is generally the case that partisan endorsements help candidates win primaries, that has important implications for our understanding of the roles that candidates and parties play in primary elections. For example, though partisan elites may not be able to choose candidates to run or prevent them from running, these results imply that candidates have explicit incentives to make allies within the party coalition to advance up the political career ladder. In this way, the preferences of partisan elites and the relationships between candidates and other partisan elites can have effects on primary election outcomes even while candidates remain in the strategic driver's seat. This finding is important because it helps to reconcile two seemingly contradictory models of primary elections: one in which outcomes are driven by the activities of party leaders and the other in which outcomes are driven solely by candidate entry decisions and personal campaigns.

Understanding Primary Elections

Current scholarship presents two very different models of how to understand primary elections. The first argues that primary outcomes depend mostly on candidates' decisions, personal qualities, and campaign spending, while the second argues that primaries are heavily manipulated by the activities of partisan elites. These perspectives offer competing hypotheses about whether and how endorsements might be expected to affect primary outcomes.

A great deal of what we know about patterns of competition in congressional primaries has been learned incidentally, as political scientists have sought to understand why congressional elections are so rarely competitive. Because competitive elections are essential to holding officeholders accountable to the public and ensuring that the public's wishes are adequately represented in government, political scientists have, for more than thirty years, explored and refined models of incumbent and challenger behavior. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Note: primary sources have slightly different requirements for citation. Please see these guidelines for more information.

Cited article

Does the Party Matter? Endorsements in Congressional Primaries
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen
Items saved from this article
  • Highlights & Notes
  • Citations
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Search by... Author
    Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.