Party Strength, the Personal Vote, and Government Spending
David Primo & James Snyder
American Journal of Political Science, April 2010, Pages 354-370
"Strong" political parties within legislatures are one possible solution to the problem of inefficient universalism, a norm under which all legislators seek large projects for their districts that are paid for out of a common pool. We demonstrate that even if parties have no role in the legislature, their role in elections can be sufficient to reduce spending. If parties in the electorate are strong, then legislators will demand less distributive spending because of a decreased incentive to secure a "personal vote" via local projects. We estimate that spending in states with strong party organizations is at least 4% smaller than in states where parties are weak. We also find evidence that strong party states receive less federal aid than states with weak organizations, and we theorize that this is because members of Congress from strong party states feel less compelled to secure aid than members from weak party states.
Are Congressional Leaders Middlepersons or Extremists? Yes
Stephen Jessee & Neil Malhotra
Legislative Studies Quarterly, forthcoming
Abstract: Influential theories of legislative organization predict that congressional
leaders should be selected from the center of their parties. Yet, the extant literature has generally rejected the "middleperson hypothesis," finding that leaders are extremists. We reexamine these findings by testing more appropriate null hypotheses via Monte Carlo simulation. We find that congressional leaders (and leadership candidates as a whole) tend to be closer to the party median than would occur by chance, but also tend to be selected to the left of the median for Democrats and to the right for Republicans. Compared to the pool of announced candidates for leadership positions, winners are not ideologically distinctive, suggesting that factors affecting the ideology of leaders tend to operate more at the
candidate emergence stage.
The multidimensional nature of party competition
Jeremy Albright, Party Politics, forthcoming
Abstract: Left-right is a convenient tool for summarizing the complexities of voter- party linkages in a manner that is comparable across contexts and that avoids the pathologies of preference aggregation in higher dimensions. Yet several reasons exist to believe that left-right is increasingly incapable of summarizing political behavior: the inability of left-right to capture policy concerns beyond economics and religion; the accumulation of new issue concerns over time; pressures for policy convergence stemming from the globalization of the world economy; and the decline of social cleavages that historically structured vote choice. This paper shows that parties are indeed talking about a growing number of issues, they are converging on the left-right scale, and the ideological cues they are sending to voters are
growing increasingly ambiguous. Social democratic parties have in particular been affected by these trends.
Nod to Kevin L.
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