This paper addresses the enduring connection of localism and place-based roots shared between many elected leaders and their constituents, which previous work has either ignored or improperly specified. I argue that representatives of the U.S. House with these roots—meaning authentic, lived experience in their districts prior to their officeholding—sustain more supportive constituencies in primary election stage. Using an original 7-point index of local biographical characteristics of incumbents seeking renomination from 2002 to 2018, I find that deeply-rooted incumbents are less than half as likely to receive a primary challenge, and on average perform more than 5 percentage points better in their primary elections when they are challenged. These gains take place even after taking district partisanship, national political conditions, incumbent ideology, and other primary factors into account, and should induce scholars to reconsider the importance of local representation even amidst a nationalizing political culture.
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Hunt, C. "Expanding Constituency Support Through Shared Local Roots in U.S. House Primaries", American Politics Research, 49(2), pp. 233-244. Copyright © 2020, The Author(s). Reprinted by permission of SAGE Publications. https://doi.org/10.1177/1532673X20959606
Hunt, Charles. (2021). "Expanding Constituency Support Through Shared Local Roots in U.S. House Primaries". American Politics Research, 49(2), 233-244. https://doi.org/10.1177/1532673X20959606