Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Incumbents Breathe Sigh of Relief

While talk often drubs Incumbents, trends in voting show that it's more likely for Incumbents to keep being, well, Incumbent.

From the Washington Monthly blog, statistics show that Incumbents are far more likely now than ever to keep being re-elected, up from a 90 percent chance to a 98 percent chance.


One reason presented is "self-segregation":

That is, liberals tend to move to liberal places and conservatives tend to move to conservative places. This has an obvious self-gerrymandering effect, but also has the less obvious effect of making people more partisan. When you spend time only with people you agree with, your views tend to become more extreme. This is good for incumbents since extreme voters are less likely to defect to the opposition."

I would also add my own reason, which is that voter apathy has been growing due to belief that the voter has less might than ever, that big money contributors have increased their controls and the individual has even less. And it seems that more than ever, politics is a lifetime career and a family legacy as well. Other reasons are put forth in the full post here.

A related post today from VOLuntarily Conservative citing numbers from early voting says voter turnout this year may be one of the lowest ever in a primary. But in addition to a primary, that would also mean voting for local government candidates is also very low.

The lack of participation and the tendency to return Incumbents to office sends a clear message - everything is fine, no reason to change the policies of failure, no reason to restrict the impact of big dollar contributors. Does this also indicate the chatter of bloggers and pundits add to the disinterest?


  1. I don't think bloggers et al. necessarily add to the disinterest, but we're sure not doing much to counteract it.

    Another thing: several friends of mine, each from a different "foreign" country, have said (and it may be somebody's famous quote), the reason that people don't vote is that they have plenty of food.

    When people are hungry, democracy (if available) kicks in really fast.

    I don't know how directly that applies to America, since it seems that our poorest and hungriest vote the least, but it's an interesting perspective.

  2. Thanks for reading Joe -- in all honesty i've been meaning to add your page to my links list for some time, so i shall ASAP.

    The comfort factor you mention is worth considering.

    Another element, as i've been thinking today, is that public perception of government and politics is that a person must be some kind of specialist to even apply for an elected job.

    I wonder what might happen if we used sort of the Jury Duty idea - draft all types of people into political office for short terms?