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District Medians and Median Districts: Electoral Adaptation in Post 1994 Japan

35 Pages Posted: 15 Jul 2012 Last revised: 25 Aug 2012

Frances McCall Rosenbluth

Yale University - Department of Political Science

Mathew D. McCubbins

Department of Political Science and Law School, Duke University

Kyohei Yamada

Rikkyo University

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Date Written: August 22, 2012

Abstract

There is considerable evidence supporting the prediction of spatial models of politics that parties adapt to electoral rules. But as in economic markets, adaptation can occur either when parties behave strategically in the face of new incentives, or when electoral competition at the district level weeds out maladapted candidates, creating more optimal party configurations from the bottom up. Although both processes can happen simultaneously, top-down strategic adaptation is easier when districts occupied by party incumbents are internally heterogeneous with respect to voter preferences and the range of preferences is similar across districts. Conversely, parties are hard to manage when their districts are internally homogeneous but different from one another. Following electoral rule change in 1994, an incumbency cartel within the long-dominant Liberal Democratic Party slowed down but did not stop the Party’s move to the national median. Electoral competition is apparently pushing both parties towards a left-right continuum as they orient themselves around urban swing districts. This adaptation gives business cycles a larger role in Japanese electoral politics than ever before.

Keywords: electoral adaptation, median voter, median district, electoral competition, business cycles

Suggested Citation

Rosenbluth, Frances McCall and McCubbins, Mathew D. and Yamada, Kyohei, District Medians and Median Districts: Electoral Adaptation in Post 1994 Japan (August 22, 2012). APSA 2012 Annual Meeting Paper. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2108028

Frances McCall Rosenbluth (Contact Author)

Yale University - Department of Political Science ( email )

Box 208269
New Haven, DC 06520-8269
United States
203-432-5256 (Phone)

Mathew D. McCubbins

Department of Political Science and Law School, Duke University ( email )

210 Science Drive
Box 90362
Durham, NC 27708
United States

Kyohei Yamada

Rikkyo University ( email )

3-34-1 Nishi-Ikebukuro
Toshima-ku, Tokyo 171-8501
Japan

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