Question from Past Microeconomics Qualifying Exam[]

Fall 2005 - Section I, Question nine, George Mason University

T, F, U. State first whether the following statements are true, false or uncertain. Then briefly explain your reasoning in four or five sentences. You may use a graph if it helps clarify your answer.

Congressional incumbents have a high probability of re-election. This implies that political markets are not competitive.



  • Hypothesis true: A high probability of re-election could actually indicate the existence of incredibly competitive political markets that deliver exactly the type of candidates voters want. If this is true, we would also expect to see very high re-election rates. (See Don Whittman for more on this)
  • Hypothesis false: Political markets are highly uncompetitive and do not give voters good options for replacing current candidates (because of issues like gerrymandering). Also, there is a visibility factor which could include name recognition, tenure of office bias, seniority etc... The challenger is a virtual unknown and would have to buy the name recognition which comes at low cost to an incumbant.

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