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    Jason Roberts Co-authors New Book

    J.Roberts Book coverJason M. Roberts, Associate Professor of Political Science at UNC-Chapel Hill, and Jamie L. Carson, Associate Professor of Political Science at the University of Georgia, have published a new book, Ambition, Competition, and Electoral Reform: The Politics of Congressional Elections Across Time, with the University of Michigan Press (2013).

    In Ambition, Competition, and Electoral Reform, “Jamie L. Carson and Jason M. Roberts present an original study of U.S. congressional elections and electoral institutions for 1872-1944 from a contemporary political science perspective. Using data on late nineteenth and early twentieth century congressional elections, the authors test the applicability in a historical context of modern political science theories, assess the effects of institutional reforms, and identify the factors that shape the competitiveness of elections. They present several key findings: the strategic politicians theory is applicable in an era without candidate-centered campaigns; there was an incumbency advantage prior to the full development of candidate-centered campaigns; institutional reforms have had a significant effect on elections; and the degree of electoral competition frequently correlates with elected officials' responsiveness to citizens” (University of Michigan Press).

    “Although writing the book was an arduous, but intellectually rewarding process,” said Roberts, “we are especially proud that the book provides both a deeper understanding of historical congressional elections and informs contemporary debates about electoral competition and electoral reforms.”

    According to Robin A. Kolodny of Temple University, “Carson and Roberts deal a mighty blow to the mythology that congressional candidate quality only matters in the modern era. Using data previous scholars have thought nonexistent, Carson and Roberts clearly, comprehensively, and convincingly show that congressional candidates, acting as strategic politicians, decided to run based on their perceived probability of winning and the likelihood of gaining a position from the party organization if they did not. Political observers of all types will find this book to be an important catalyst of ideas for further research and revision of conventional wisdom for many years to come.”

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