Pivotal politics, partisan polarization, and policy predictability

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2 Scopus citations


Traditional political economy models such as those founded on the work of Duncan Black and Anthony Downs cannot capture certain important features of the dynamics of policy outcomes in the United States. Because these models assume that policy change is directly responsive to the median voter, they cannot address questions about policy gridlock and drift. Because the Black-Downs model assumes that only the median matters, it assumes away other changes to the distribution of preferences of voters and legislators. In particular, it cannot address the potential consequences of polarization for policy outcomes, gridlock, or uncertainty. I argue that the pivotal politics framework of Keith Krehbiel may be quite useful in understanding the relationship between political polarization and policy uncertainty in addition to its traditional application to the study of gridlock.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1076-1081
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Politics
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jul 1 2018

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Sociology and Political Science


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