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Primary Elections and Partisan Polarization in the U.S. Congress

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  • Hirano, Shigeo
  • Snyder, James M.
  • Ansolabehere, Stephen
  • Hansen, John Mark
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    Abstract

    Many observers and scholars argue that primary elections contribute to ideological polarization in U.S. politics. We test this claim using congressional elections and roll call voting behavior. Many of our findings are null. We find little evidence that the introduction of primary elections, the level of primary election turnout, or the threat of primary competition are associated with partisan polarization in congressional roll call voting. We also find little evidence that extreme roll call voting records are positively associated with primary election outcomes. A positive finding is that general election competition exerts pressure toward convergence as extreme roll call voting is negatively correlated with general election outcomes.

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    File URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1561/100.00008052
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    Bibliographic Info

    Article provided by now publishers in its journal International Quarterly Journal of Political Science.

    Volume (Year): 5 (2010)
    Issue (Month): 2 (August)
    Pages: 169-191

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    Handle: RePEc:now:jlqjps:100.00008052

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    Web page: http://www.nowpublishers.com/

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    Cited by:
    1. Scott R. Baker & Nicholas Bloom & Brandice Canes-Wrone & Steven J. Davis & Jonathan A. Rodden, 2014. "Why Has U.S. Policy Uncertainty Risen Since 1960?," NBER Working Papers 19826, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    2. P. Amorós & Ricardo Martínez & M. Socorro Puy, 2013. "The closed primaries versus the top-two primary," Economics Working Papers we1319, Universidad Carlos III, Departamento de Economía.
    3. Evrenk, Haldun & Lambie-Hanson, Timothy & Xu, Yourong, 2013. "Party-bosses vs. party-primaries: Quality of legislature under different selectorates," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 29(C), pages 168-182.

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