Primary Electorates vs. Party Elites: Who are the Polarizers?

14 Pages Posted: 9 May 2013  

Seth E. Masket

University of Denver

Boris Shor

University of Houston - Department of Political Science; Georgetown University, Department of Government

Date Written: May 8, 2013

Abstract

Advocates of direct primaries argued that party nominees selected by voters should be more independent-minded than those hand-selected by party elites. We test this claim through a study of state legislative vacancy appointments, through which a small group of party activists is responsible for replacing legislators who have died or resigned. We compare the roll call voting behavior of two decades of legislators in Colorado and Illinois based on whether the legislators were directly nominated in primary elections or selected by party elites on a partisan vacancy committee. Results demonstrate that there is, in fact, little ideological difference between the two types of incumbents, suggesting that party elites are largely able to secure the nominations of their preferred candidates even under conditions of a direct primary.

Keywords: state legislatures, primaries, polarization, ideology, party

Suggested Citation

Masket, Seth E. and Shor, Boris, Primary Electorates vs. Party Elites: Who are the Polarizers? (May 8, 2013). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2262076 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2262076

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 (Contact Author)

University of Houston - Department of Political Science ( email )

Houston, TX 77204-3011
United States

Georgetown University, Department of Government ( email )

Washington, DC 20057
United States
3122834599 (Phone)

HOME PAGE: http://research.bshor.com

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