Belmont University Research Symposium (BURS)

Publication Date

Spring 2023


Liberal Arts and Social Sciences, College of


Political Science, Department of

BURS Faculty Advisor

Nathan Griffith

Presentation Type

Oral Presentation


Incumbents win reelection at a staggering rate (upwards of 75%) the causes of this are well understood and examined. The numerous material benefits (access to a larger staff, fundraising ability, name recognition, etc.) paired with the psychological benefits (scare-off effect, lack of high-quality candidate, etc.) make it very hard for a potential challenger to win in an election against an incumbent. There however has been a decrease in the incumbency advantage over the past several election cycles. Since both the material and psychological benefits are still present, another factor is likely contributing to this decrease. Ideology has become an increasingly relevant factor in incumbency and if we look at ideology scores in conjunction with reelection outcomes, we should see that is true.