Lame Ducks and Divided Government: How Voters Control the Unaccountable
Divided government is not only the outcome of moderate voters’ electoral decision to balance party ideology in government, but a more general reaction of voters to a systematic control problem. Voters realize that term limited executives (i.e., “lame ducks”) cannot be held accountable due to the missing re-election incentives. By dividing government control voters force a lame duck to compromise on policies with an opposing legislature and restrict his ability to extract rents. Based on US state data I present empirical evidence showing that the probability of divided government is 9 to 15 percent higher when governors are lame ducks.
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