One Campaign Website, Multiple Constituencies: Ideological Repositioning from Primary to General Election

Joint with Michael Dougal and Christine Kuang.

To successfully win reelection representatives must manage multiple constituencies, successfully raising money from friends, deterring or defeating primary challenges from more extreme fellow partisans, and winning a majority among more moderate voters in the general election. Thus, candidates both require the support of groups with differing ideologies and have a strong incentive to send different ideological signals to different constituencies if they wish to be elected. While there is a voluminous literature that estimates the ideology of elected officials based on their legislative voting record, roll call votes are too sparse to estimate repositioning over a short campaign period, are based on agenda-setting that highly constrains the signals an incumbent can send, and lack information about challenger ideology, a key feature of any spatial model of electoral competition. Partnering with the Internet Archive, we collect House and Senate candidate websites on a weekly basis throughout the entire course of the 2014 campaign from January to the general election. In this paper we provide preliminary estimates of candidate ideology over the course of the campaign to date.