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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

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.

Suggested Citation

  • Hirano, Shigeo & Snyder, James M. & Ansolabehere, Stephen & Hansen, John Mark, 2010. "Primary Elections and Partisan Polarization in the U.S. Congress," Quarterly Journal of Political Science, now publishers, vol. 5(2), pages 169-191, August.
  • Handle: RePEc:now:jlqjps:100.00008052
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    File URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1561/100.00008052
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    Cited by:

    1. Scott R. Baker & Nicholas Bloom & Brandice Canes-Wrone & Steven J. Davis & Jonathan Rodden, 2014. "Why Has US Policy Uncertainty Risen since 1960?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 104(5), pages 56-60, May.
    2. Amorós, P. & Martínez, Ricardo & Puy, M. Socorro, 2013. "The closed primaries versus the top-two primary," UC3M Working papers. Economics we1319, Universidad Carlos III de Madrid. Departamento de Economía.
    3. Pablo Amorós & M. Socorro Puy & Ricardo Martínez, 2016. "Closed primaries versus top-two primaries," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 167(1), pages 21-35, April.
    4. 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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