Sore Loser Laws and Congressional Polarization

Legislative Studies Quarterly, Vol. 39, 2014

Emory Legal Studies Research Paper No. 13-265

28 Pages Posted: 15 Nov 2013 Last revised: 26 Jun 2016

Date Written: 2013

Abstract

To enhance explanations for party polarization in the U.S. Congress, we focus on an unappreciated legal structure known as the sore loser law. By restricting candidates who lose partisan primaries from subsequently appearing on the general election ballot as independents or nominees of other parties, these laws give greater control over ballot access to the party bases, thus producing more extreme major party nominees. Using several different measures of candidate and legislator ideology, we find that sore loser laws account for as much as a tenth of the ideological distance between the major parties.

Suggested Citation

Burden, Barry C. and Jones, Bradley and Kang, Michael S., Sore Loser Laws and Congressional Polarization (2013). Legislative Studies Quarterly, Vol. 39, 2014; Emory Legal Studies Research Paper No. 13-265. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2354168 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2354168

Barry C. Burden (Contact Author)

University of Wisconsin - Madison ( email )

716 Langdon Street
Madison, WI 53706-1481
United States

Bradley Jones

University of Wisconsin - Madison ( email )

1050 Bascom Mall
Madison, WI 53706
United States

Michael S. Kang

Northwestern Pritzker School of Law ( email )

750 N. Lake Shore Drive
Chicago, IL 60611
United States

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