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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