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Partisanship and Contested Election Cases in the House of Representatives, 1789-2002 (WP-04-04)

Jeffery A. Jenkins

This paper identifies, tracks, and examines the 601 contested election cases in the House of Representatives from the 1st through 107th (1789–2002) Congresses. One of its chief goals is to assess the degree to which partisanship has been a significant factor in influencing contested election outcomes. The key finding is that a sizeable majority of successful contests have favored the majority party; however, the overall impact of the contested election process, in terms of adding majority party seats, has been quite small on a per-Congress basis. The one exception to this latter finding was during the late 19th century, when a significant increase in successful contests, and majority party additions, occurred. This was due in large part to the Republican Party’s strategic use of contested elections as a means of maintaining a presence in the former Confederate South.

Jeffery A. Jenkins, Political Science and Institute for Policy Research, Northwestern University

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