Primary Election Laws and Candidate Entry
19 Pages Posted: 15 Jul 2012 Last revised: 16 Sep 2012
Date Written: 2012
States differ in terms of how easy or difficult it is to get on the ballot and on who what types of voters may cast ballots in primary elections. In this paper, we consider how these rules affect candidate entry. Indeed, if electoral rules make some candidates systematically less likely to run, this will have implications for representation that go beyond the ideological ones already discovered in previous literature (e.g. Gerber and Morton 1998). We connect this literature on the effects of electoral institutions on outcomes (Morton and Williams 2001; Besley 2003) to the literature on women and candidate entry (Lawless and Fox 2010; Fox and Lawless 2010; Kanthak and Woon 2011), developing a theory of differential candidate emergence, whereby electoral institutions, in part, determine what types of candidates pursue elective office. Specifically, we find that in Congressional elections, states with semi-closed primaries generate relatively more female candidates, whereas states with semi-open primaries generate relatively more male candidates, even accounting for other factors that may affect candidate entry. These results indicate that practitioners ought to consider the representation effects of various electoral institutions when updating old electoral rules or creating new ones.
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