Politically experienced challengers are more successful in seeking political office than amateurs. The relationship is found so regularly that political experience has become the standard ex ante indicator of challenger quality in studies of American elections. Despite this, little work has investigated why experienced challengers are so successful. Many scholars attribute the relationship to inherent differences between experienced challengers and amateurs: experienced challengers have stronger electoral skills and greater access to material resources. I argue that these differences play a role, but an indirect one. Rather, experienced challengers are lead by both their resource advantage and the high amount of risk they are exposed to in seeking office to run in races in which their party has a good chance of winning. Thus, the direct cause of the experienced challengers’ success is self-selection into winnable races. Empirical analysis supports the self-selection model over a model in which resources directly lead to success.
Political Behavior – Springer Journals
Published: Nov 28, 2007
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