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Study Notes

The Power of the Incumbency

AQA, Edexcel, OCR

Last updated 22 Aug 2017

The power of incumbent is the name given to the advantage awarded to the those seeking reelection to an office they already hold.

The advantage exists for a number of reasons. Firstly, where a long term office holder is seeking reelection they are likely to have greater name recognition in the state/district so publicity is less of an issue than with a challenger.

Another factor, linked to greater name recognition is greater access to funds through sponsors and donors. Established candidates are likely to have a significant donor base either personally or through their political party making it easier to afford to run a campaign.

To highlight the success of the incumbency, reelection rates among those incumbents seeking reelection has been consistently over 80% for the last 50 years.

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