A Gubernatorial Helping Hand? How Governors Affect Presidential Elections

20 Pages Posted: 23 Nov 2012

See all articles by Robert S. Erikson

Robert S. Erikson

Columbia University - Department of Political Science

Olle Folke

Uppsala University - Department of Government

James M. Snyder

Harvard University; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Date Written: November 22, 2012

Abstract

It is commonly argued that a presidential candidate is helped in a state by having a governor of the same party. There is however little research to support this claim. To address this question, we use a regression discontinuity design. The idea is that in very close elections the party of the governor is essentially decided by a coin flip. Focusing on these close elections allows the estimation of the effect of the gubernatorial party. We show that a governor of the same party actually hurts a presidential candidate. Using a similar methodology, we also show that voters punish the president's party when voting for governor in midterm years. Having established these relationships, we explore the possible reasons. One possibility is a variation of the ideological balancing argument, whereby voters' choices for one office are conditional on which party holds office at a different level.

Keywords: Presidential Elections, Regression Discontinuity Design, Electoral Balancing

JEL Classification: H00

Suggested Citation

Erikson, Robert S. and Folke, Olle and Snyder, James M., A Gubernatorial Helping Hand? How Governors Affect Presidential Elections (November 22, 2012). IFN Working Paper No. 932, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2179516 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2179516

Robert S. Erikson

Columbia University - Department of Political Science ( email )

MC3320
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New York, NY 10027
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Olle Folke (Contact Author)

Uppsala University - Department of Government ( email )

Scheelev├Ągen 15 D
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Lund
Sweden

James M. Snyder

Harvard University ( email )

1875 Cambridge Street
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

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Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

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