IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this paper

Why Are There So Many Divided Senate Delegations?


  • Alberto Alesina
  • Morris Fiorina
  • Howard Rosenthal


The last three decades have witnessed a sharp increase in the number of states with spilt Senate delegations, featuring two senators of different parties. In addition, there is evidence that senators of different parties do not cluster in the middle: they are genuinely polarized. We propose a model which explains this phenomenon. Our argument builds upon the fact that when a Senate election is held, there is already a sitting senator. If the voters care about the policy position of their state delegation in each election, they may favor the candidate of the party which is not holding the other seat. We show that, in general: (1) a candidate benefits if the non-running senator is of the opposing parry; (2) the more extreme the position of the non-running senator, the more extreme may be the position of the opposing party candidate. Our 'opposite party advantage' hypothesis is tested on a sample including every Senate race from 1946 to 1986. After controlling for other important factors, such as incumbency advantage, coattails end economic conditions, we find reasonably strong evidence of the 'opposite party advantage.'

Suggested Citation

  • Alberto Alesina & Morris Fiorina & Howard Rosenthal, 1991. "Why Are There So Many Divided Senate Delegations?," NBER Working Papers 3663, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:3663
    Note: ME

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: no

    References listed on IDEAS

    1. repec:cup:apsrev:v:80:y:1986:i:02:p:567-588_18 is not listed on IDEAS
    2. Anthony Downs, 1957. "An Economic Theory of Political Action in a Democracy," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 65, pages 135-135.
    3. Bernheim, B. Douglas & Whinston, Michael D., 1987. "Coalition-Proof Nash Equilibria II. Applications," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 42(1), pages 13-29, June.
    4. repec:cup:apsrev:v:84:y:1990:i:02:p:513-524_19 is not listed on IDEAS
    5. Bernheim, B. Douglas & Peleg, Bezalel & Whinston, Michael D., 1987. "Coalition-Proof Nash Equilibria I. Concepts," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 42(1), pages 1-12, June.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)


    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.

    Cited by:

    1. Chari, V V & Jones, Larry E & Marimon, Ramon, 1997. "The Economics of Split-Ticket Voting in Representative Democracies," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 87(5), pages 957-976, December.
    2. Heckelman, Jac C., 2000. "Sequential elections and overlapping terms: voting for US Senate," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 42(1), pages 97-108, May.

    More about this item


    Access and download statistics


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:3663. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (). General contact details of provider: .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.