Incumbent Reelection Rates

AP US Government and Politics

Over the past half century, about what percent of incumbents* are reelected to Congress?

  1. How accurate was your prediction?

  2. What most surprised you about this data?

  3. What is the big story this chart tells?

  4. Why do you think that is?

  5. What is one consequence of this?

  6. Is this good news, bad news, neither, or both?

  7. Based on this chart alone, make one prediction about incumbents and the 2018 midterm elections:

  8. If you were to draw this chart twenty years into the future what would it look like:

  9. Have US incumbent reelection rates always been this high? (see bonus chart below.)

  10. Imagine a world where there were no incumbents (in other words, you were not allowed to run for reelection EVER) what would that political system look like and who would it empower?

  11. No matter what happens in the the next  election, the big winners will be incumbents. Who will the big losers be?

  12. What are three reasons that incumbents win?

  13. Let's say that you wanted to take away some of these incumbent advantages, who would have to pass the laws to take away those advantages?

  14. In the most recent decades, presidents get reelected at about a 66% rate. Explain whether you believe our current president will be reelected:

  15. Explain whether you believe our current president should be reelected:

  16. You must have a few questions about this chart. Write down a question that comes to mind:

  17. Based on the data, what assumptions would you make about the popularity of Congress today?

Learning Extension

This is a meme about Congressional incumbents.

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Check out Pulitzer Prize winner Politifact's exploration of whether this meme is true.

Action Extension

Think about incumbents and why they win. Think about the Congressional incumbents who represent you (they could be Senators or members of the House). Do a little research on your own personal incumbent and decide whether you should vote for them or not. If you can vote, vote your conscience. If you can't vote, find someone who can and explain whether they should vote for the incumbent or not.

Bonus Charts



Hilarious Animals!

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