Divided We Vote
32 Pages Posted: 2 Nov 2010 Last revised: 15 Dec 2010
Date Written: November 2, 2010
Previous research has shown that divided government correlates with more constrained government, but less is understood about the empirical conditions that lead to divided government. This paper treats divided government as the dependent variable in an empirical macro political economy model estimated on 30 years (1976-2005) of panel data for the American states. Using both continuous and categorical measures of divided government, results indicate that voters support more divided government after periods of increased government spending per dollar of tax revenues, which suggests that voters attempt to utilize divided government for its constraining effects. On the other hand, voters generate more unified government after incomes have decreased and (to a lesser extent) after unemployment rates have increased, which suggests that voters seek to empower government in response to periods of economic distress. Only conditional support is found for the strategic-moderating theory (Alesina and Rosenthal 1996) that focuses purely on midterm cycles and split-ticket voting absent economic conditions.
Keywords: divided government, limited government, midterm cycles, split ticket voting, American states
JEL Classification: D72, E62, H71
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation