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Is Timing Everything? Retirement and Seat Maintenance in the U.S. House of Representatives

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Abstract

Literature on open-seat elections has focused on the individual attributes of a candidate and/or institutional arrangements. When a seat becomes an open contest could be a significant indicator as to how likely the incumbent party is able to maintain the seat. Examining data on open U.S. House seats from 1996 to 2008, we use OLS regression and logistic regression analysis, finding that time is a significant predictor for incumbent party fund-raising and seat maintenance. We conclude that political parties have an interest in encouraging members of Congress to announce their retirement early in the election cycle.

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