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Why Are There So Many Divided Senate Delegations?

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  • Alberto Alesina
  • Morris Fiorina
  • Howard Rosenthal

Abstract

The last three decades have witnessed a sharp increase in the number of states with spilt Senate delegations, featuring two senators of different parties. In addition, there is evidence that senators of different parties do not cluster in the middle: they are genuinely polarized. We propose a model which explains this phenomenon. Our argument builds upon the fact that when a Senate election is held, there is already a sitting senator. If the voters care about the policy position of their state delegation in each election, they may favor the candidate of the party which is not holding the other seat. We show that, in general: (1) a candidate benefits if the non-running senator is of the opposing parry; (2) the more extreme the position of the non-running senator, the more extreme may be the position of the opposing party candidate. Our 'opposite party advantage' hypothesis is tested on a sample including every Senate race from 1946 to 1986. After controlling for other important factors, such as incumbency advantage, coattails end economic conditions, we find reasonably strong evidence of the 'opposite party advantage.'

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 3663.

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Date of creation: Mar 1991
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Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:3663

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Cited by:
  1. Heckelman, Jac C., 2000. "Sequential elections and overlapping terms: voting for US Senate," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 42(1), pages 97-108, May.
  2. V. V. Chari & Larry E. Jones & Ramon Marimon, 1997. "The economics of split-ticket voting in representative democracies," Working Papers 582, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.

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