Graduation Year


Document Type

Open Access Senior Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts



Reader 1

Roberto Pedace

Reader 2

Kerry Odell

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© 2015 Grace N. Lutz


This study examines the relationship between the state of the U.S. economy and the outcome of general elections for incumbents in the U.S. House of Representatives. The analysis uses a unique data set compiled from a sample of U.S. Congressional Elections and state and economic indicators between the years 1999 and 2014. We find that economic indicators are consistently related to election outcomes, but have a larger and more significant effect when the time period examined is closer to a major economic event, such as the Great Recession. We also find that female incumbent candidates are more negatively affected by increases in the unemployment rate than their male counterparts. The results imply the existence of a gender bias against women in elections that consider economic indicators highly. These findings highlight what is of greatest importance to the voting electorate during voting season in the 21st century.