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Explaining variation in the competitiveness of U.S. Senate elections, 1922–2004

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  • Stanley Winer
  • Lawrence Kenny

    ()

  • Bernard Grofman

Abstract

We develop and test predictions about the factors determining the competitiveness of elections to the U.S. Senate. To do so, we deliberately abstract away from candidate-specific conditions that have often been used to study political competitiveness in order to focus on basic structural features of the electoral landscape. In our framework, party-specific constraints on the ideological positioning of local candidates, linked to the national party organization and its contributors, interact with the heterogeneity of state electorates to determine the number of highly competitive Senate contests. Three hypotheses emerge from this model: (1) the greater the diversity of a party’s national legislative delegation, the more highly competitive Senate elections we will observe; (2) states in which the ideological heterogeneity of the electorate is relatively high will exhibit a greater number of highly competitive elections; and (3) highly competitive Senate contests will be more common in states with closed primaries than in states with open primaries. We provide strong evidence in support of the first two hypotheses and some evidence in support of the third. Copyright Springer Science+Business Media New York 2014

Suggested Citation

  • Stanley Winer & Lawrence Kenny & Bernard Grofman, 2014. "Explaining variation in the competitiveness of U.S. Senate elections, 1922–2004," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 161(3), pages 471-497, December.
  • Handle: RePEc:kap:pubcho:v:161:y:2014:i:3:p:471-497
    DOI: 10.1007/s11127-014-0176-0
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. J Stephen Ferris & Stanley L. Winer & Bernard Grofman, 2016. "The Duverger-Demsetz Perspective on Electoral Competitiveness and Fragmentation: With Application to the Canadian Parliamentary System, 1867-2011," CESifo Working Paper Series 5752, CESifo Group Munich.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Electoral competition; Political competitiveness; U.S. senate elections; Ideological heterogeneity; National party constraints; Primary elections; Spline regression; Asymmetric breakpoint; D72;

    JEL classification:

    • D72 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Political Processes: Rent-seeking, Lobbying, Elections, Legislatures, and Voting Behavior

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