A Primary Cause of Partisanship? Nomination Systems and Legislator Ideology

American Journal of Political Science, v58, n2, April 2014, pp. 337-351

48 Pages Posted: 9 Sep 2010 Last revised: 9 Jul 2014

Eric McGhee

Public Policy Institute of California

Seth E. Masket

University of Denver

Boris Shor

University of Houston - Department of Political Science

Steven Rogers

Princeton University - Department of Political Science

Nolan McCarty

Princeton University - Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs; Princeton University - Department of Political Science

Date Written: May 1, 2013

Abstract

Many theoretical and empirical accounts of representation argue that primary elections are a polarizing influence. Likewise, many reformers advocate opening party nominations to non-members as a way of increasing the number of moderate elected officials. Data and measurement constraints, however, have limited the range of empirical tests of this argument. We marry a unique new data set of state legislator ideal points to a detailed accounting of primary systems in the United States to gauge the effect of primary systems on polarization. We find that the openness of a primary election has little, if any, effect on the extremity of the politicians it produces.

Keywords: State legislatures, polarization, primaries, American politics, partisanship

Suggested Citation

McGhee, Eric and Masket, Seth E. and Shor, Boris and Rogers, Steven and McCarty, Nolan, A Primary Cause of Partisanship? Nomination Systems and Legislator Ideology (May 1, 2013). American Journal of Political Science, v58, n2, April 2014, pp. 337-351. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1674091 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1674091

Eric McGhee (Contact Author)

Public Policy Institute of California ( email )

500 Washington Street
Suite 800
San Francisco, CA 94111
United States
415-291-4439 (Phone)

Seth E. Masket

University of Denver ( email )

Sturm Hall, Room 466
2000 E. Asbury Ave.
Denver, CO 80208
United States
303-871-2718 (Phone)
303-871-2045 (Fax)

Boris Shor

University of Houston - Department of Political Science ( email )

Houston, TX 77204-3011
United States

Steven Rogers

Princeton University - Department of Political Science ( email )

Corwin Hall
Princeton, NJ 08544-1012
United States

Nolan McCarty

Princeton University - Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs ( email )

Princeton University
Princeton, NJ 08544-1021
United States

Princeton University - Department of Political Science ( email )

Corwin Hall
Princeton, NJ 08544-1013
United States
(609) 258-1862 (Phone)
(609) 258-2809 (Fax)

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