Research Insights: How Do Elections Affect Policy Outcomes?
The opportunity to run for reelection provides a significant incentive for incumbent U.S. governors to exert effort, creating a disciplining effect. This improves policy outcomes by 4.9 percent. Reelected governors are more aligned with voters than non-reelected governors, meaning that elections induce a selection effect. This selection improves policy outcomes by 2.9 percent. The widely used two-term election regime improves voter welfare by 4.2 percent compared to a one-term regime. Better voter information about governor effort further increases voter welfare by up to 0.5 percent.