Presidential Campaigning in the 2002 Congressional Elections



Theories involving coattails, surge and decline, presidential popularity, and the economy ascribe little importance to presidential efforts to influence congressional elections. Since such efforts do occur, we ask: What happens when a president campaigns for fellow partisans? We examined President George W. Bush's decisions to campaign for certain House candidates in 2002, and we assessed the effect of his visits on Republicans' electoral successes. Both the competitiveness of a race and the president's electoral self-interest increased the likelihood of a visit on behalf of a candidate. Neither party loyalty nor presidential support in Congress had an effect. We conclude that presidential campaign visits significantly enhance candidates' electoral prospects.