Our article investigates the role of congressional candidates during the era of party ballots in nineteenth-century congressional elections. We examine how these candidates contributed to the overall quality of the party ballot and the means by which nationalization of elections served to mitigate candidate attributes. In our analysis, we take advantage of two unique features of elections during this era. First, election timing was quite variable before 1872, as many House races were not held concurrently with presidential elections. Second, House candidates' position on the ballot varied depending on whether a presidential or gubernatorial race was also being contested at the same time. To investigate these factors, we examine House elections prior to the adoption of the Australian ballot and find strong evidence of candidate effects during this period. Our findings raise important implications about candidate influence and electoral accountability in a more party-centered era.