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An incumbent is the person currently holding a given office. An incumbent has certain inherent advantages over other candidates when seeking re-election. Because incumbents have proven themselves to be electable, have a following, and generally have more access to campaign resources, they are almost certain to be elected in primaries to represent their respective parties if another candidate from the same party decides to run. Because significant changes to party composition of electorates are rare, especially in districts that have been subject to gerrymandering, the incumbent's political party is extremely likely to win the general election, especially in a two-party system like that of the United States. The combination of these factors makes incumbency extremely powerful, to the point that many offices without term limits are considered to be elected for life.

Voting Issues[]

Reasons to vote for an incumbent[]

  • Incumbents have a track record, support and connections that have already been established. They also have proven experience. Many people feel that it is better to vote for an incumbent as long as they have done good enough and were not a complete failure. They feel that it is safer to bet on someone who has done decently than to take a gamble on a new politician.

Reasons to vote against an incumbent[]

  • Many people feel an incumbent should never be voted for unless they have done an exceptional job. By always voting against the incumbent there is a consistent flow of fresh ideas and fresh faces into the office. The allows for those exceptional candidates to be found, although it could result in inexperience, ineffective politicians.
  • A new candidate is less likely to have large donators and therefore he has fewer people he has to please. This allows the politician to more easily listen to his constituency.

See also[]