Quality Challengers in Senate Primary Elections, 1956-2020 – UROP Spring Symposium 2021

Quality Challengers in Senate Primary Elections, 1956-2020

Daniel Kennedy


Pronouns: he/him/his

Research Mentor(s): Jason Byers, Postdoc
Research Mentor School/College/Department: Center for Political Studies, College of Literature, Science, and the Arts
Presentation Date: Thursday, April 22, 2021
Session: Session 3 (1pm-1:50pm)
Breakout Room: Room 5
Presenter: 5

Event Link


Elections are an important trademark of just about every modern democracy and help to facilitate expressions of public opinion into the government. Because elections are an important part of democracy it makes sense to analyze them in order to better understand human behavior and electoral outcomes. Quite often elections are studied in order to try and predict how candidates perform in the election and possible reasons as to why they did as well as they did. One part that is often analyzed is the differences between quality and amateur candidates. This relationship has been examined for congressional primary elections, but has not been observed in regards to Senate primary elections. This study seeks to discover how being a quality challenger correlates with success in a senate primary election. Quality challengers are characterized by their previous political careers. Previous political experience, successfully running a campaign for elected office, separates quality challengers from their amateur counterparts. Success in a primary election is characterized by the percentage of votes they received, with the winning candidate receiving a majority of the vote. This methodology also takes into account other variables that may significantly affect results in Senate elections, for example the type of Senate primary election. In order to examine this relationship, different levels of political experience and non-political experience are given a number from 0-30 that indicates their level of quality. This number has 0 as the lowest indication of quality and 30 as the highest level of quality. This number is then attached to the candidate’s success in the election, and through Microsoft excel a correlation will be generated between success in elections and quality level. In the future, the information found in this study can hopefully be used to better understand how people vote and therefore able to effectively anticipate the results of future senate primary elections with moderate success.

Authors: Daniel Kennedy, Jason Byers
Research Method: Library/Archival/Internet Research

lsa logoum logo