(Chuck Muth) – Let’s face it, incumbents generally have, and have had, a significant advantage over challenger candidates, especially those running for the first time: Money, connections and experience in bridging the often-troubled waters of political campaigns.
“But there are signs that this is now changing,” writes Geoffrey Skelley for FiveThirtyEight.com, “with voters showing a greater willingness to back amateur candidates.”
Skelley points to a study by a pair of researchers at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill which “found a substantial uptick in the number of inexperienced candidates beating out experienced candidates, especially in the past three election cycles.”
He noted that “changes driven by campaign fundraising, voter attitudes, political rhetoric and weak political parties seem to have diminished the advantages that experienced candidates have long had.”
The research also found “that the more money an inexperienced candidate raises from outside their district early in their campaign, the more campaign cash they tend to raise overall. They’re also more likely to win their primary.”
“Beyond money,” Skelley continues, “voters are also increasingly disillusioned with our institutions, especially Congress, and are also attracted to anti-establishment rhetoric.”
“I see a world continuing to look more and more like the elections of the last few years,” predicts Sarah Treul, one of the researchers, “where inexperienced candidates just become the norm and that’s who we’re sending to office.”
So cheer up, challengers!
Yes, incumbents still enjoy significant advantages. However, those advantages aren’t quite as overwhelming as they once were. So get out there, upset the apple cart and turn conventional wisdom on its ear.
And click here to read the full column.