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Running for Higher Office – Previous
Expected utility of winning a higher office - E(Uh)
E(Uh) = phBh – Ch
Expected utility of retaining the current, lower office -
E(Ul) = plBl – Cl
Under this assumption, an ambitious politician will
attempt to move to higher office when:
E(Uh) = phBh – Ch >E(Ul) = plBl – Cl
What is problematic about this assumption?
Running for Higher Office – A Two-Stage
Maestas and colleagues argue that there is a stable
disposition, or function, that each legislator holds.
Progressive Ambition = f(E(UA)
= pgenBmarg – Cmarg + M)
Where pgenis the long-run probability of winning office
Bmargis the expected gain from the target office
Cmargis the expected costs from running for the target office
M = personal motivations outside of the cost-benefit analysis
Those who enter Stage 2 have already crossed a
threshold level of ambition.
Stage 2 Pr(Run | Progressive Ambition > 0 = f(Pt, pgen,Ct,)
= pgenBmarg – Cmarg + M)
pgen Bmarg Cmarg M
winning the party
effectiveness in U.S.
Family-cost index Desire to make
social or business
chances of winning
the general election.
to current position in
Perception of district
Signals from party.
Moving to the Second Stage
f(E(UA) = pgenBmarg – Cmarg + M)
If f(E(UA)) > 0, then they are scored as „1‟ (i.e. ambitious)
If f(E(UA)) ≤ 0, then then they are scored as „0‟ (i.e. not
N = 597
N = 263
N = 334
How do the authors connect their findings to political
What are the implications for their findings?
What can they not determine from this study?
How might this study be extended?
Making It: The Electoral Game
Asking the right questions
What constituency to win over
How to become familiar to voters
Which leaders or groups to garner support
How to reach voters most effectively
Choosing the message
Effective, simple, repeatable brand
Messaging in Campaign Ads
Sen. Ron Johnson (R – WI)
“We‟re just a Wisconsin family worried about our country.”
Washington outsider -
Had enough of these phony political commercials?
Sen. Jim Webb (D – VA)
Appealing to the other side.
Rep. Morgan Griffith (R – VA)
Association - Obama Loves Rick Boucher -
Policy - Cap and Trade -
Choosing the Wrong Message
Daniel Freilich (D – VT) for Senate
“I‟m on a Cow”
Rep. Alan Grayson (D – FL)
Taliban Dan -
Paul R. Nelson (R – WI) for House
Ron Kind, The Wrong Kind -
CarlyFiorina (R – CA) candidate for Senate
Demon Sheep -
Way too far. http://www.nbc.com/saturday-night-
“I‟d rather wrestle a gorilla than ask anybody for fifty
cents.” Senator John Glenn (D - Ohio)
Sources of Congressional candidate funds:
1) Individual contributors
$2,400 per candidate
$45,600 per election
3) Party Committees
4) Personal Funds
Incumbents always do better. Why?
House incumbents outspent challengers six times over in 2010.
Senate incumbents outspent 11 times over in 2010.
2012 Spending in PA Races
Can you buy votes?
Spending is positively correlated with electoral success.
Spending negatively correlated with electoral success.
Spending matters less later in campaign races.
Positive vs. Negative ads – what are the tradeoffs?
Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act (BCRA) of 2002
Requires candidates personally appear with their advertisements.
Evolving mass media
“Word of mouth on steroids.”
The Ground War
“Pressing the flesh.”
Get out the vote (GOTV) drives
Outside players – Freedom Watch – “Dina Titus must be from
Citizens United v. FEC - Corporate spending