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Third-party threat and the dimensionality of major-party roll call voting


  • Daniel Lee



This paper assesses the influence of the electoral threat of third parties on major-party roll call voting in the US House. Although low-dimensionality of voting is a feature of strong two-party politics, which describes the contemporary era, there is significant variation across members. I hypothesize that major-party incumbents in districts under a high threat from third-party House candidates cast votes that do not fit neatly onto the dominant ideological dimension. This hypothesis is driven by (1) third party interests in orthogonal issues, and (2) incumbents accounting for those interests when casting votes in order to minimize the impact of third parties. An empirical test using data from the 105th to 109th Congresses provides evidence of this effect. Copyright Springer Science+Business Media New York 2014

Suggested Citation

  • Daniel Lee, 2014. "Third-party threat and the dimensionality of major-party roll call voting," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 159(3), pages 515-531, June.
  • Handle: RePEc:kap:pubcho:v:159:y:2014:i:3:p:515-531
    DOI: 10.1007/s11127-013-0066-x

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Miller, Gary & Schofield, Norman, 2003. "Activists and Partisan Realignment in the United States," American Political Science Review, Cambridge University Press, vol. 97(2), pages 245-260, May.
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    4. Marcus Drometer & Johannes Rincke, 2009. "The impact of ballot access restrictions on electoral competition: evidence from a natural experiment," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 138(3), pages 461-474, March.
    5. Lauderdale, Benjamin E., 2010. "Unpredictable Voters in Ideal Point Estimation," Political Analysis, Cambridge University Press, vol. 18(2), pages 151-171, April.
    6. Thomas R. Palfrey, 1984. "Spatial Equilibrium with Entry," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 51(1), pages 139-156.
    7. Fleck, Robert K & Kilby, Christopher, 2002. "Reassessing the Role of Constituency in Congressional Voting," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 112(1-2), pages 31-53, July.
    8. Martin, Andrew D. & Quinn, Kevin M., 2002. "Dynamic Ideal Point Estimation via Markov Chain Monte Carlo for the U.S. Supreme Court, 1953–1999," Political Analysis, Cambridge University Press, vol. 10(2), pages 134-153, April.
    9. Yoshinaka, Antoine & Grose, Christian R., 2011. "Ideological Hedging in Uncertain Times: Inconsistent Legislative Representation and Voter Enfranchisement," British Journal of Political Science, Cambridge University Press, vol. 41(4), pages 765-794, October.
    10. Clinton, Joshua & Jackman, Simon & Rivers, Douglas, 2004. "The Statistical Analysis of Roll Call Data," American Political Science Review, Cambridge University Press, vol. 98(2), pages 355-370, May.
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