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Becoming a Candidate : Political Ambition and the Decision to Run for Office



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Cambridge University Press
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Becoming a Candidate: Political Ambition and the Decision to Run for Office explores the factors that drive political ambition at the earliest stages. Using data from a comprehensive survey of thousands of eligible candidates, Jennifer L. Lawless systematically investigates what compels certain citizens to pursue elective positions and others to recoil at the notion. Lawless assesses personal factors, such as race, gender and family dynamics, that affect an eligible candidate's likelihood of considering a run for office. She also focuses on eligible candidates' professional lives and attitudes toward the political system.

Author Biography

Jennifer L. Lawless is an Associate Professor of Government at American University, where she is also the Director of the Women Politics Institute.

Table of Contents

List of Tablesp. xi
List of Figuresp. xv
Acknowledgmentsp. xvii
Mudslinging, Money-Grubbing, and Mayhem: Who Would Ever Run for Office?p. 1
The Importance of Studying the Initial Decision to Run for Officep. 6
Organization of the Bookp. 10
The Decision to Run for Office: The Theoretical and Methodological Approachp. 14
The Initial Decision to Run for Office: Developing a More Complete Theory of Political Ambitionp. 16
The Citizen Political Ambition Panel Studyp. 24
Political Ambition in the Candidate Eligibility Poolp. 31
Candidate Emergence from the Eligibility Poolp. 35
Who Runs for Office? Eligible Candidates' Expressive Ambitionp. 35
Who Considers Running for Office? Eligible Candidates' Nascent Ambitionp. 37
Predicting Nascent Ambition: The Null Effects of the Political Opportunity Structurep. 40
Dynamic Ambition in the Candidate Eligibility Poolp. 42
Conclusionp. 48
Barack Obama and 18 Million Cracks in the Glass Ceiling: Sex, Race, and Political Ambitionp. 49
The Politics of Exclusion: Sex, Race, and the Conventional Explanations for Numeric Underrepresentationp. 53
Sex, Race, and Political Ambition: Existing Literature and Competing Expectationsp. 57
Similarities in Political Participation, Proximity, and Interest: An Overview by Sex and Racep. 60
Sex, Race, and Interest in Running for Officep. 66
Sex, Race, and Changes in Interest in Running for Office: Predicting Dynamic Ambitionp. 73
Conclusionp. 74
You Could Be President Someday! Early Socialization, the Role of Family, and Political Ambitionp. 77
In the Genes: The Lifelong Effects of a Politicized Upbringingp. 78
The Influence of Family Structures and Roles on Political Ambitionp. 86
Changes in Family Circumstances: Predicting Dynamic Ambitionp. 99
Conclusionp. 102
On-the-job Training: Professional Circumstances and the Decision to Run for Officep. 104
Professional Differences and Political Ambition in the Candidate Eligibility Pool: A Bivariate Analysisp. 106
The Role of Income and Financial Successp. 110
The Role of Professionally Conferred Political Proximityp. 114
The Role of Professional Credentials and Qualificationsp. 117
A Side Note on the Gender Gap in Perceptions of Qualificationsp. 121
The Impact of Professional Circumstances on Political Ambition: Multivariate Resultsp. 124
Changes in Professional Circumstances: Predicting Dynamic Ambitionp. 129
Conclusionp. 133
You Think I Should Run for Office? Political Parties, Political Recruitment, and Political Ambitionp. 135
Eligible Candidates' Political Attitudes and Partisanshipp. 137
Who Gets Asked to Run for Office?p. 142
Political Recruitment and Considering a Candidacyp. 150
Changes in Relationships With and About the Political Parties: Predicting Dynamic Ambitionp. 155
Conclusionp. 161
Biting the Bullet: Deciding to Run for Officep. 164
So Many Reasons Not to Run for Office: Negative Perceptions of the Electoral Environment and the Campaign Processp. 166
Fundraising as a Deterrent to Running for Officep. 170
Invasion of Privacy as a Deterrent to Running for Officep. 172
Negative Campaigning as a Deterrent to Running for Officep. 174
Expressing That Ambition: The Decision to Enter an Actual Racep. 176
The Role of the Political Opportunity Structurep. 185
Conclusionp. 186
Future Patterns of Candidate Emergence and Studies of Political Ambitionp. 188
Summary of the Findings: Contemporary Patterns of Candidate Emergencep. 190
Implications for Candidate Emergence and the Study of Political Ambitionp. 195
The Citizen Political Ambition Panel Studyp. 201
The First Wave Survey (2001)p. 204
The Second Wave Survey (2008)p. 217
The First Wave Interview Questionnairep. 229
The Second Wave Interview Questionnairep. 234
Coding of Variablesp. 239
Works Citedp. 251
Indexp. 269
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