chapter  12
20 Pages

Judicial Elections: Just Like Any Other Election?

ByMatthew J. Streb

Of all the subjects in this book, perhaps none have seen so many developments and so much controversy over the last decade as judicial elections. When I sat down to write this chapter for the first edition of the book, judicial elections were still flying below most people’s radar. Few scholars were systematically studying judicial elections, media largely ignored them, and voters in only a few states encountered heated judicial races. Today, that has changed. Although studies of judicial elections (and, hence, what we know about them) still lag behind analyses of presidential or congressional elections, a new wave of research has emerged analyzing elections for judge at all levels (see Bonneau and Hall, 2009; Streb, 2007 for overviews of much of this research). Media coverage, though far from abundant, has grown markedly. And voters in many states have now encountered bare-knuckled, expensive campaigns that look more like elections for the most political offices than for positions whose occupants are supposed to be above politics. Judicial elections certainly no longer can be compared to playing a game of checkers by mail as one journalist once did (Bayne, 2000).