The Yale Undergraduate Research Journal


The 2020 general election turned out more American voters than any other election, its monumental stakes commanding the attention of the world. While the focus in the race’s aftermath has primarily been the top of the ticket, the rebuke of President Trump’s time in office, the equally important down-ballot races have been largely passed over. Many major political analysts like the Cook Political Report predicted that Democrats would expand their House majority by 5-10 seats. Yet, the Democratic Party ended up losing 10 seats1. During the certification of election results, I collected data on incumbents in the US House of Representatives in their re-election bids. The paper examines performance of 2020 incumbents relative to 2018, and the factors which caused change in vote share. Findings suggest that the GOP had an even more successful down-ballot campaign than reported and highlights the absence of certain systemic factors once assumed to weigh heavily on incumbency advantage.