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The power of incumbency also comes from the fund-raising advantage, which is increasinglyimportant with the rising cost of campaign advertising, polling, and staffing. The ability to out-fund raise an opponent is often a deterrent for a challenger either in the primary or general election to even enter the race against an incumbent. In addition, help from party campaign committees and political action committees is also more readily available for incumbents since they are a known quantity in political circles and already have a voting record to show potential supporters. Incumbents are also more likely to receive news media coverage and can be seen "on the job" by their constituents via C-SPAN on cable television.Another factor contributing to the incumbency advantage that has become a more pressing problem in recent years is the increasing number of "safe seats." With the help of redistricting, which occurs at the state level, political parties who hold the majority in state legislatures have been able to create safe districts for their members where the opposing party has little or no chance of defeating an incumbent. As a result, nearly one-fourth of all congressional seats in the most recent elections have seen incumbents running unopposed in the general election. This is particularly problematic for women and minority candidates trying to break into the political arena and explains why both groups tend to do better in open-seat elections where there is no incumbent on the ballot.The framers could not have foreseen the type of political environment in which Congress now operates. Both legislators and the voters that elect them are often motivated by calculations of self-interest. The dual role of Congress consists of its role as a lawmaker and its role as a representative body. However, members are often torn between how to best represent constituents while implementing laws for the good of the nation.*This represents the competing theories of what it means to be a member of a representativegovernment like Congress. One theory rests on the notion that the member is a trustee, an elected representative who considers the needs of constituents and then uses his or her best judgment to make a policy

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UMD AAST 200 - Incumbency

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