Proximity Voting in Congressional Elections
University of Chicago - Irving B. Harris Graduate School of Public Policy Studies
Washington University in Saint Louis - Department of Political Science
May 8, 2013
A large class of theoretical models posits that voters choose candidates on the basis of issue congruence, but convincing empirical tests of this key claim remain elusive. The most persistent difficulty is obtaining comparable spatial estimates for winning and losing candidates, as well as voters. We address these issues using candidate surveys to characterize the electoral platforms for both winning and losing candidates and by generating estimates of citizen preferences using large batteries of policy questions that appeared in the 2008 CCAP and 2010 CCES. Identical and near-identical questions that were answered by both candidates and citizens allow us to jointly scale these estimates. We find robust evidence that vote choice in congressional elections is strongly associated with spatial proximity. Partisanship mediates this relationship, with independents more sensitive to spatial distance. These results have important implications for theories of voter decision-making and electoral institutions.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 35
Keywords: Ideology, Congress, Ideal Points, Bridging, Representation, Common Space, Votingworking papers series
Date posted: July 19, 2010 ; Last revised: May 8, 2013
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