Anticipating Trouble: Congressional Primaries and Incumbent Behavior

Brookings Institution - R Street Policy Study No. 156, October (2018). (with Elaine Kamarck)


Our paper suggests that the fear of being primaried prompts members of Congress to change their behavior in ways that reduce the likelihood of it occurring and that increase the likelihood of prevailing in a contested primary, if a challenger actually emerges. The working theory is straightforward: The general phenomenon of contested primaries impacts individual members psychologically and causes them to continually adapt to the possibility of a primary challenge.