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
Date Written: May 1, 2013
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
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