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The direct primary stands as one of the most significant and distinctive political reforms of the Progressive era in American history. In this book, the authors provide the most comprehensive treatment available on the topic and utilize new data on election outcomes, candidate backgrounds, incumbent performance and behavior, newspaper endorsements, and voters' preferences. They begin by studying whether primary elections have achieved the goals set by progressive reformers when they were first introduced over a century ago. They then evaluate the key roles these elections have played in the US electoral systems, such as injecting electoral competition into the regions that are dominated by one of the two major parties, helping select relatively qualified candidates for office, and, in some cases, holding incumbents accountable for their performance. They conclude with studying the degree to which primaries are responsible for the current, highly polarized environment. Anyone interested in US primary elections, US political history, or electoral institutions more generally should read this book.
We develop a model of legislative policymaking in which individual legislators are concerned with both policy and reelection. Legislators' preferences are private information, and they have two means of communicating their preferences to voters. First, they each have a “party label” that credibly identifies an interval within which their ideal points must lie. Second, their roll call votes may convey additional information about their preferences. Each legislator must therefore tailor his or her votes to his or her district in order to forestall a reelection challenge from the opposing party. In equilibrium, nonsincere voting records will occur mostly in moderate districts, where extreme incumbents are vulnerable to challenges from relatively centrist candidates. In those districts, the most extreme legislators may even choose to vote sincerely and retire rather than compile a moderate voting record. Thus, both roll call scores and candidate types will be responsive to district type. An empirical test of shifts in roll call scores of retiring House members in moderate districts confirms these findings.