Gubernatorial and presidential elections over the period 1947—1986 are examined, using a previously reported process for decomposing partisan electoral outcomes series into their longterm and short-term components. These measures are employed to examine the proposition that gubernatorial elections have become increasingly isolated from outside forces. It is found that presidential coattails appear to be declining in importance (but not only because a number of states have moved to off-year elections). Gubernatorial elections have converged around a national pattern of relatively close competition, unlike state-level presidential contests, which have shifted in favor of Republican candidates. The pattern of gubernatorial outcomes varies more from state to state, however. In specific elections, the short-term forces remain in rough equilibrium between the parties in gubernatorial contests, but not in presidential contests, where the average short-term shifts favoring one party or the other fluctuate from one election to the next. On the other hand, gubernatorial elections respond less uniformly than presidential elections to these election-specific, national-level forces. This evidence suggests that the gubernatorial election contest has, in general, become more distinctive from the national context, reflecting a more fully autonomous office.
Published in The Journal of Politics, ed. Jan E. Leighley, William Mishler, Volume 50, Issue 1, 1988, pages 192-205.
Tompkins, M. E. (1988). Have gubernatorial elections become more distinctive contests? The Journal of Politics, 50(1), 192-205.
© The Journal of Politics, 1988, Cambridge University Press