Candidate Quality and the Congressional Vote: A Causal Connection?

Michael R. Kulisheck, Jeffery J. Mondak

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Anecdotal evidence and correlational studies provide consistent evidence that the skill and integrity of legislative incumbents strongly affect those representatives' prospects for reelection. What is less clear, however, is why these effects occur. In particular, previous research fails to establish that voters incorporate objective information pertaining to candidate quality in the decision calculus. We address this issue through use of a laboratory experiment in which objective descriptions of the skill and integrity of US. House candidates were varied. Results reveal that both feeling thermometer scores and the vote choice were influenced by the information concerning candidate quality. The effects of skill and integrity were not attenuated by our participants' partisan attachments or political knowledge, nor by variance in the information format or the candidates' issue positions. Collectively, these results suggest that candidate quality may exert broad influence on the vote choice, and that this influence operates independently from other conventional predictors of the vote.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)237-253
Number of pages17
JournalElectoral Studies
Issue number2
StatePublished - May 1996
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Political Science and International Relations


Dive into the research topics of 'Candidate Quality and the Congressional Vote: A Causal Connection?'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this