WAR CHESTS AS PRECAUTIONARY SAVINGS
I present a model of campaign spending and saving in repeated elections which yields
empirical implications on the creation of war chests. As previous studies disagree
whether war chests deter potential challengers from running against incumbents, I
present an alternative model that intentionally excludes deterrence as a motivation and
formalizes under what circumstances (if any) a war chest would be created for savings.
The model predicts that an incumbent creates a war chest when she faces a weaker
challenger, i.e. as precautionary savings for future elections. The model yields several
other predictions of incumbent fund-raising, spending, and saving behavior. Using
incumbents from 1982–1998 U.S. House elections, I ﬁnd strong empirical support for
the predictions of the model.
Key words: war chests; congressional elections; challenger entry; precautionary
savings; campaign ﬁnance.
Conventional wisdom states that incumbents possess resources that prevent
quality candidates from challenging them. This is a potential problem because
quality challengers are more likely to run competitively against incumbents
(Jacobson 1989). Furthermore, ‘‘competitive elections are desirable because
they are the best way to hold elected ofﬁcials accountable to voters, enhance
representation, and build trust in government’’ (Herrnson 2004, p. 299).
Following this line of reasoning, one method of improving democracy is to
Jay Goodliffe, Department of Political Science, Brigham Young University, 752 SWKT, Provo,
Utah 84602-5545, (email@example.com).
Political Behavior, Vol. 26, No. 4, December 2004 (
0190-9320/04/1200-0289/0 Ó 2004 Springer Science+Business Media, Inc. 2004