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Why representatives are ideologists though voters are not


  • Amihai Glazer
  • Bernard Grofman


Though few voters appear to hold consistent ideological views, the roll call votes of congressmen and senators can be well predicted by ideological terms. An explanation for this puzzle is that ideology allows candidates to succinctly explain their views. Because it is difficult to explain detailed positions to voters, a candidate who presents his position in ideological terms may be able to defeat a candidate who supports a set of issue positions that would, in toto, be preferred by a majority of well-informed voters were the voters aware of all the views of that candidate. This effect can be a powerful one. Moreover, ideology may be a source of electoral stability, and a means of providing regularity and structure to elite political debate. Copyright Kluwer Academic Publishers 1989

Suggested Citation

  • Amihai Glazer & Bernard Grofman, 1989. "Why representatives are ideologists though voters are not," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 61(1), pages 29-39, April.
  • Handle: RePEc:kap:pubcho:v:61:y:1989:i:1:p:29-39
    DOI: 10.1007/BF00116761

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    1. repec:cup:apsrev:v:82:y:1988:i:03:p:773-788_19 is not listed on IDEAS
    2. repec:cup:apsrev:v:68:y:1974:i:02:p:626-649_11 is not listed on IDEAS
    3. Kalt, Joseph P & Zupan, Mark A, 1984. "Capture and Ideology in the Economic Theory of Politics," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 74(3), pages 279-300, June.
    4. repec:cup:apsrev:v:68:y:1974:i:02:p:650-660_11 is not listed on IDEAS
    5. McKelvey, Richard D, 1979. "General Conditions for Global Intransitivities in Formal Voting Models," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 47(5), pages 1085-1112, September.
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    Cited by:

    1. Scott Feld & Samuel Merrill & Bernard Grofman, 2014. "Modeling the effects of changing issue salience in two-party competition," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 158(3), pages 465-482, March.
    2. Lodewijk Smets & Stephen Knack & Nadia Molenaers, 2013. "Political ideology, quality at entry and the success of economic reform programs," The Review of International Organizations, Springer, vol. 8(4), pages 447-476, December.
    3. Dur, Robert A J, 2001. "Why Do Policy Makers Stick to Inefficient Decisions?," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 107(3-4), pages 221-234, June.

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