Title

Incumbency and Turnover in United States House Elections 1934-1974

Date of Award

8-1-1976

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Department

Political Science & Public Administration

Abstract

This work aims at laying the groundwork for a new approach to Congressional elections: turnover theory. Turnover is simply the change in membership of a Congressional chamber, and occurs in two forms: short-run turnover, in which seats change hand3 over a single election, and long-run turnover, in which incoming classes of Congressmen are decimated over several successive elections. The former is referred to in the body of this work as simply "turnover," the latter as "attrition."

The work is based on original data gathered from the Biographical Directory of the American Congress and other sources. It tests relationships between factors affecting turnover and attrition and ultimately proposes the Natural Post-Landslide Deelection Factor (NPLDF), wherein landslide-beneficiary classes of Congressmen must undergo relatively heavy losses in the following elections. This new development is couched in terms of a new approach to classifying elections, using Congressional rather than Presidential elections as a base: landslides, NPLDF elections, restoring elections, and maintaining elections. In addition, the work seeks to probe the changes in turnover in the period surveyed (1934-74) and the causes of varying levels of turnover and attrition between elections.

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