Political Behavior

, Volume 8, Issue 1, pp 3–20 | Cite as

Preemptive and reactive spending in U.S. House races

  • Edie N. Goldenberg
  • Michael W. Traugott
  • Frank R. Baumgartner


This paper examines the spending behavior of candidates for the U.S. House of Representatives. Particular attention is paid to the timing of receipts and expenditures over the complete 2-year election cycle. Incumbents raise and spend large amounts of money very early in the race, and this preemptive spending may have a great impact on the selection of challengers and therefore on electoral outcomes. In addition, a model of reactive spending is tested for the general election period. Incumbents' expenditures are a function of the underlying partisan division in the district, the strength of the challenge, and candidates' feelings of vulnerability. Incumbents are strategic actors who attempt to maximize their chances of reelection. Early in the term, they spend preemptively in an effort to influence the selection of their challengers. Later in the term, they spend in reaction to the strength of their challengers' campaign. The role of money in congressional campaigns is neither simple nor direct. More attention needs to be given to the strategic uses of money in the period leading up to the general election campaign as well as to the dynamics of receipts and expenditures over an entire election cycle.


General Election Electoral Outcome Strategic Actor Election Campaign Election Cycle 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Agathon Press, Inc. 1986

Authors and Affiliations

  • Edie N. Goldenberg
    • 1
  • Michael W. Traugott
    • 1
  • Frank R. Baumgartner
    • 1
  1. 1.Center for Political StudiesThe University of MichiganUSA

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