Something to Run For: Articulated Interest and Candidate Emergence
Patterns in candidate emergence affect who voters can choose from, and thus the quality of representative democracy. Despite extensive work concerning patterns in interest in running for office and, separately, patterns in emerged candidacies, there is little empirical evidence regarding the transition from being interested in running for office to emerging as a candidate. We provide such evidence here using a novel dataset of over 10,000 open-ended statements of interest collected by Run for Something, a non-profit that encourages political amateurs to run for state and local office. We find that respondents who emphasized issues and political dynamics specific to their local communities - as opposed to more general, natiionalized indicators of ideological extremity or political sophistication - were among the most likely to emerge as candidates. Our results highlight the importance of motives in candidate emergence -- particularly the pragmatic, often less ideological reasons why citizens become politicians.