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Acknowledgments This book has been a work in progress for several—perhaps too many— years. We were both still in graduate school when we started kicking around the idea of writing a book on nineteenth and early twentieth century House elections. Given that most research on congressional elections we had encountered started with the 1946 elections (the beginning of Gary Jacobson’s data set on U.S. House elections), we wondered whether many of the patterns we regularly observed in the contemporary era with respect to congressional elections would extend back further in time. For instance, have ambitious politicians always behaved strategically or is this largely a function of entry and exit decisions in a largely candidate-centered era? To what extent has the decline in competitiveness of House elections across time been a function of changing dynamics in candidate and partisan behavior? To what extent did strong party organizations promote higher levels of electoral competition during the late nineteenth century when control over the nomination process was more exclusive? What effect did changing electoral institutions such as the adoption of the Australian ballot and direct primaries around the turn of the century have on candidate emergence patterns? Have incumbents always been elected at relatively high rates or has this pattern clearly become more prominent over the last century? These and many other related questions are what initially motivated our early discussions about this book. During the writing process, the focus of our book steadily evolved based on our changing interests, the comments and feedback of others, and the availability of historical data. Collecting the historical House elections data set that we employ for all the analysis in the book took much longer than either of us originally and naively anticipated. Some of the electoral return data we needed had previously been coded xiii xiv Acknowledgments electronically, but we had to fill in the gaps and correct numerous errors that we came across. Without a doubt, the most time consuming venture involved coding candidate experience across time. For this, we are especially indebted to a number of undergraduate and graduate students who assisted us with this effort. In particular, we would like to thank Dana Adams, Caitlin Dwyer, Matthew Holleque, Rob Holahan, Yagmur Sen, Justin Wedeking, and Matthew Weidenfeld. We also owe a special debt of gratitude to Lawrence Kestenbaum for updating and maintaining the Political Graveyard website and database, which was especially useful for tracking down unique biographical information on a number of candidates who ran for a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives. The writing of two political scientists in particular has heavily influenced our combined interest in the study of congressional elections. First, David Mayhew’s classic book, Congress: The Electoral Connection , has had an enormous impact on the way we view legislative behavior more generally, and members of Congress in particular. His simple argument about viewing legislators as “single-minded seekers of reelection” has stimulated an enormous amount of ideas and research on which we have both attempted to build to date. Second, we were both heavily influenced by Gary Jacobson’s analysis in various editions of The Politics of Congressional Elections. This book in particular played a pivotal role in our decision to write our own book on House elections as it covered a number of different facets of electoral politics that encouraged us to think about congressional elections across time in new and innovative ways. Roberts would like to thank Steve Roberds for first exposing him to congressional elections research and encouraging him to pursue a career in political science rather than the high school classroom. He is also deeply indebted to Steve Smith for being an energetic, compassionate, generous, and encouraging advisor and mentor. He would also like to thank Sarah Treul for her love, support, and the life/work balance she provided during the writing process. Carson would like to thank his PhD advisor and mentor, David Rohde, for introducing him to a broader understanding of Congress that served to reinforce his interest in congressional elections. He is also indebted to Jeff Jenkins, who first introduced him to historical research on congressional elections and American Political Development. Carson would also like to thank one of his undergraduate professors, Aimee Shouse, for initially introducing him to the exciting study of Congress and congressional elections. Acknowledgments xv We have presented parts of the book at various venues over the years. We are especially thankful to John Aldrich and David Rohde, both at...


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