Use this URL to cite or link to this record in EThOS:
Title: Papers on the polarization of Congress
Author: Norton, Mike
ISNI:       0000 0004 7232 8427
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2018
Availability of Full Text:
Access from EThOS:
Full text unavailable from EThOS. Please try the link below.
Access from Institution:
This dissertation, a collection of independent papers, explores the polarization of the United States Congress through the lens of primary elections, campaign finance, and party structures during a pivotal moment in American political history. Paper 1 focuses on the top two primary format and its potential in producing moderate candidates and legislators, while Paper 2 expounds on the deleterious consequences it poses for the party system as a whole, particularly in this modern era of both high polarization and high fragmentation. Paper 3 examines the Downsian median voter theorem from the perspective of primary election voters, asking if general election wins/losses beget the nomination of more ideological/moderate nominees next cycle. Ultimately, the article illustrates that the parties instead retain consistent records through both election wins and losses, linked to credibility concerns from position changes as well as the inability of members to disentangle from national party identities. Its companion paper, Paper 4, takes that Downsian question to elites in Washington, D.C. Through original interviews with twenty-three individuals including former members of Congress, leadership, congressional staff, and think tank scholars, I describe the electoral and legislative pressures that prevent officeholders from responding to their median voter, especially among those in swing districts most exposed to the risks of partisan behavior. Paper 5, the final paper, brings together the themes of those preceding it by analyzing the ways in which outside interference, specifically political action committees and more inclusive primary elections, propagates legislative caucus fragmentation and weakens official leadership. This work plays one minor role in providing prescriptive steps to improve and empower channels of dialogue in the U.S. legislative brancha - in spite of larger systemic sorting along geographical and partisan lines - and ensure the mediation of ideology between voters and their elected representatives results in policy solutions rather than gridlock.
Supervisor: Eggers, Andrew Sponsor: Marshall Scholarship
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Political parties ; Elections ; Polarization (Social sciences) ; United States. Congress ; congress ; polarization