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A Theory of Political Parties

by Kathleen Bawn, Marty Cohen, David Karol, Seth Masket, Hans Noel, John Zaller


Rather than considering politicians (office-seekers) as the main movers behind parties, the authors look at ``intense minorities'' (activists and interest groups) as the demanders and creators of parties. Instead of considering politicians that present platforms to win votes, they consider parties as coalitions of intense minorities that choose policies to their liking, subject to the soft constrained of uninformed voters. They claim that a couple of facts support their theory: 1. Legislators are more extreme (Nominate scores) than one would suspect looking at their levels of district support. In other words, legislators do not represent the median voter in their district, but the main intense minority in their district. 2. Intense minorities try to get away with ideological candidates. If they have been in the wilderness for a while, they will nominate more centrist individuals. They do show that candidate moderation and years in opposition are correlated in the US and the UK.

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