Electronic Theses and Dissertations





Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts


Political Science

Committee Chair

Michael Sances

Committee Member

Eric Groenendyk

Committee Member

Shelby Grossman


With little oversight, high levels of discretion, and regular partisan elecitons, it is plausible that district attorneys may change their behavior or priorities as their own elections approach with the hope of being rewarded by the voters at the ballot box. I collect arrests and dispositions data from all thirty-one judicial districts in Tennessee from 2001-2017 to test whether district attorneys become tougher on crime leading up to their elections. I find that district attorneys are about one percentage point more punitive in election years than in non-election years. To assess whether voters do, in fact, reward district attorneys for this increased punitiveness, I analyze election results from the 2006 and 2014 elections. I find that there is no evidence of retrospective voting in district attorney elections but there is a statistically significant correlation between Democratic district attorney vote share and Democratic governor vote share duing same-year elections.


Data is provided by the student.

Library Comment

Dissertation or thesis originally submitted to the local University of Memphis Electronic Theses & dissertation (ETD) Repository.