Party Switchers and Reelection: A Precinct-Level Analysis

Seth C. McKee, Antoine Yoshinaka, Keith E. Lee, Jr., Richard McKenzie


We use precinct-level data to examine two questions: how an incumbent’s “reelection constituency” changes following a party switch and whether incumbents who switch parties do worse than non-switchers. Our data come from four members of the U.S. House who switched parties between 1995 and 2004. Among this group, one switched parties prior to the enactment of a controversial redistricting plan, and thus we can assess how boundary changes mitigate the negative impact of party switching. We also compare each party switcher’s vote following the switch with that of non-switching incumbents running for reelection that year.

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