Party Elites, Ideological Voters, and Divided Party Government

Paul Frymer, Thomas P. Kim, Terri L. Bimes

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Scopus citations


Do voters consciously split their tickets in order to "balance" the national government between the two major political parties, as some theories of divided government contend they do? Or do "sincere" and ideologically consistent voters split their ballots in response to elite behavior and party cleavages? Focusing on the 1988 election, the last time divided government was the direct result of split-ticket voting, we find that most split-ticket voters in national elections are ideologically conservative in their policy views. These conservative voters split their tickets in favor of the Republican presidential candidate and a Democratic House candidate they perceive to be similarly conservative. Meanwhile, the smaller proportion of voters who split for the Democratic presidential candidate and a Republican House candidate are ideologically liberal, and they respond to House Republicans perceived as similarly liberal. Finally, we discuss the implications of both our theory and our findings for the 1994 Republican midterm victories.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)195-216
Number of pages22
JournalLegislative Studies Quarterly
Issue number2
StatePublished - May 1997
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Sociology and Political Science


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