One Strike and You're Out: The Effects of the Master Lever on Senators' Positions
72 Pages Posted: 27 Dec 2016 Last revised: 27 Mar 2018
Date Written: March 12, 2018
This paper accounts for the effects of the master lever (ML), a straight-ticket voting option, on the positions of elected U.S. senators from 1961 to 2012. The ML, still present in some states, allows voters to select one party for all elections listed on a ballot by ticking only one box, as opposed to filling out each office individually. Introducing it changes the groups of voters targeted by parties and the positions of senatorial candidates. Theoretically, we analyze the effects of this shift in tradeoffs by building a model of pre-election competition. Empirically, we use a difference-in-differences estimator to account for selection into treatment, and find that the ML has led to a right-wing shift of Republican positions, and has had on average no effect on Democratic senators. We explain this asymmetric result by examining the joint distribution of partisanship and positions in our sample.
Keywords: Ballot Design, Elections, Political Positions, U.S. Senate
JEL Classification: D72, K16, N42
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation