Divided We Vote

32 Pages Posted: 2 Nov 2010 Last revised: 15 Dec 2010

See all articles by Peter Calcagno

Peter Calcagno

College of Charleston - Department of Economics

Edward J. Lopez

Western Carolina University - College of Business; Liberty Fund, Inc.

Date Written: November 2, 2010


Previous research has shown that divided government correlates with more constrained government, but less is understood about the empirical conditions that lead to divided government. This paper treats divided government as the dependent variable in an empirical macro political economy model estimated on 30 years (1976-2005) of panel data for the American states. Using both continuous and categorical measures of divided government, results indicate that voters support more divided government after periods of increased government spending per dollar of tax revenues, which suggests that voters attempt to utilize divided government for its constraining effects. On the other hand, voters generate more unified government after incomes have decreased and (to a lesser extent) after unemployment rates have increased, which suggests that voters seek to empower government in response to periods of economic distress. Only conditional support is found for the strategic-moderating theory (Alesina and Rosenthal 1996) that focuses purely on midterm cycles and split-ticket voting absent economic conditions.

Keywords: divided government, limited government, midterm cycles, split ticket voting, American states

JEL Classification: D72, E62, H71

Suggested Citation

Calcagno, Peter and Lopez, Edward J., Divided We Vote (November 2, 2010). Public Choice, Forthcoming, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1701940

Peter Calcagno

College of Charleston - Department of Economics ( email )

66 George Street
Charleston, SC 29424
United States

Edward J. Lopez (Contact Author)

Western Carolina University - College of Business ( email )

College of Business
Forsyth 315E
Cullowhee, NC 28723
United States

HOME PAGE: http://www.edwardjlopez.com

Liberty Fund, Inc. ( email )

11301 N. Meridian Street
Carmel, IN 46032
United States

HOME PAGE: http://www.econlib.org

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