Midterm Elections and Divided Government: An Information-Driven Theory of Electoral Volatility

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Date: Sept. 1999
From: Political Research Quarterly(Vol. 52, Issue 3)
Publisher: Sage Publications, Inc.
Document Type: Article
Length: 140 words

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Abstract :

Divided government affects individual choices over how to vote in midterm elections because it increases uncertainty in the minds of voters. Particularly, divided control of government makes blame attribution more difficult by obscuring causal connections and reducing the overall amount of usable information. As a result, we argue that under divided government, voters are less likely to vote for the House candidate not of the President's party. Using both NES and election-specific contextual data, we examine divided government's effect on the voters' political knowledge and candidate preferences in all midterm elections from 1978 to 1994, controlling for well identified factors that shape outcomes in House elections. We find, first, that divided government reduces the amount of political information held by voters. Second, divided government helps the President's party by lowering the probability that an individual votes for the out-party candidate.

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Gale Document Number: GALE|A57815530