Challengers, Competition, and Reelection (Paperback)

Comparing Senate and House Elections

By Jonathan S. Krasno

Yale University Press, 9780300068740, 224pp.

Publication Date: February 27, 1997

List Price: 24.00*
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Why do U.S. senators have a harder time winning reelection than do members of the House of Representatives? Jonathan S. Krasno argues that Senate elections are more competitive because Senate challengers are more likely to be experienced politicians who wage intense, visible, and costly campaigns than are those who take on House incumbents.

Krasno, the first scholar to draw on the Senate Study—a survey conducted by the National Election Study specifically to analyze Senate elections—clearly and compellingly disposes of previous explanations for the vulnerability of senators. He argues that it is wrong to assume that the public holds senators responsible for the development of national policy while it looks to representatives to provide district service, an easier task. It is also not true that districts are easier to represent than states because their populations are smaller and less diverse. Nor, according to Krasno, do voters use different standards for evaluating House and Senate performance in office. The reason that senators lose more often than do representatives is the quality of their opponents. When challengers are formidable, both Senate and House incumbents face real struggles; improving the challengers is the best way to make House elections and other elections as competitive as Senate races.