“Motivating Reasons to Run: How Opportunities to Govern Shape Citizens’ Interest in Elected Office,” William Howell, University of Chicago

Event time: 
Wednesday, April 24, 2024 - 12:00pm to 1:15pm
Institution for Social and Policy Studies (PROS77 ), A002 See map
77 Prospect Street
New Haven, CT 06511
Event description: 


Abstract: The state of American Politics would be generally improved, numerous scholars argue, if more moderate and more competent people ran for public office. In this paper, we investigate their responsiveness to changes in a dimension of politics that has received scant attention within the candidate-entry literature: namely, the ability of candidates, once elected, to exercise meaningful influence and change public policy. In a series of conjoint experiments, we find that the opportunity to wield greater authority increases the probability that moderates will seek public office, whereas extremists appear indifferent; and that more competent respondents are particularly likely to express interest in running for office when the threshold needed to pass legislation is lower, greater authority is invested in an office, and staff support is higher. These findings, we suggest, have broad implications for debates about electoral selection and our understanding of the relationships between governing reforms and mass politics.

William Howell is the Sydney Stein Professor in American Politics at the University of Chicago, where he holds appointments in the Harris School, political science department, and College. Currently, he is the director of the Center for Effective Government and co-host of Not Another Politics Podcast. William has written widely on separation-of-powers issues and American political institutions, especially the presidency.

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