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Congressional Campaign Contributions, District Service and Electoral Outcomes in the United States: Statistical Tests of a Formal Game Model with Nonlinear Dynamics
Mebane, Walter R.

Uploaded 07-22-1997
Keywords congressional elections
campaign contributions
campaign finance
district service
intergovernmental transfers
formal model
game theory
Cournot-Nash equilibrium
Nash equilibrium
differential equations
dynamical system
nonlinear dynamics
Hopf bifurcation
normal form
Whitney embedding theorem
divergence theorem
Liouville's theorem
multivariate normal distribution
maximum likelihood
Wald test
asymptotic stability
Abstract Using a two-stage game model of congressional campaigns, the second stage being a system of ordinary differential equations, I argue that candidates, political parties and financial contributors interact strategically in American congressional elections in a way that is inherently nonlinear. Congressional races in which the incumbent faces a challenge are generated by dynamical systems that have Hopf bifurcations: a small change in the challenger's quality or in the type of district service can change a stable incumbent advantage into an oscillating race in which the incumbent's chances are uncertain. The normal form equations for such a system inspire a statistical model that can recover qualitative features of the dynamics from cross-sectional data. I estimate and test the model using data from the 1984 and 1986 election periods for political action committee campaign contributions, intergovernmental transfers and general election vote shares.

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