Student Scholar Symposium Abstracts and Posters

Document Type


Publication Date

Spring 5-14-2015

Faculty Advisor(s)

David Shafie


Recent research suggests that competition in Congressional elections has been on the decline for more than 50 years, based on incumbent reelection rates and the percentage of close races. Recent elections show the least competitive outcomes dating back to the Post-War era. Currently, there is a multitude of proposed explanations attempting to figure out why there has been such a significant decline in marginal districts. This includes the advantages incumbents have in the reelection process, the effects of redistricting/gerrymandering, the impact of recent partisan polarization, and the significance of campaign finance. In my research I will look at precinct and congressional level data provided by the Secretary of State in 2010 and 2014 statewide elections in California districts, to discover the effects that partisan versus non-partisan gerrymandering has, the level of competition between open and incumbent seats, and the impact that partisan polarization has had in recent elections. I will investigate these results along with looking at former research to determine what has caused the intense increases in “safe” districts in congressional elections.


Presented at the Spring 2015 Student Research Day at Chapman University.