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Grose and Oppenheimer on Iraq and the 2006 elections

Abstract: Was the partisan swing in the 2006 U.S. House elections distributed evenly across congressional districts? We argue and show that the partisan swing, measured as the increase in the Democratic vote share from 2004 to 2006, was not constant across districts. We find that the underlying partisanship of the district, the presence of scandal, the presence of a quality challenger, and the incumbency status of the seat all predicted variations in the Democratic swing percentage. We also test competing theoretical expectations regarding legislative representation and find that the Iraq war had a differential impact across districts based on the party of the legislator, whether legislators voted for the war, and based on the number of Iraq war casualties in the district. Republican members of Congress who served during the Congress authorizing the war in Iraq and who voted for the war had larger Democratic swings in their districts than those who did not. We also find that, among Republicans, for about every two Iraq war casualties among soldiers with hometowns in the congressional district, the Democratic swing increased by about one percentage point. Democrats, in contrast, faced no electoral reward or punishment contingent upon their votes on the Iraq war or based on the number of Iraq war casualties in their districts.

Christian Grose and Bruce Oppenheimer (2007), “The Iraq War, Partisanship, and Candidate Attributes: Explaining Variation in Partisan Swing in the 2006 U.S. House Elections,” unpublished paper. Available here.

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