Why Americans Split Their Tickets

Campaigns, Competition, and Divided Government

Subjects: Political Science, American Politics
Hardcover : 9780472112869, 216 pages, 17 drawings, 36 tables, 6 x 9, November 2002
Ebook : 9780472023066, 216 pages, 17 drawings, 36 tables, December 2009
Paperback : 9780472089840, 216 pages, 17 drawings, 36 tables, 6 x 9, March 2004
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Argues that ticket splitting is an unintentional result of congressional campaigns

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Copyright © 2002, University of Michigan. All rights reserved.


In Why Americans Split Their Tickets, Barry C. Burden and David C. Kimball argue that divided government is produced unintentionally. Using a new quantitative method to analyze voting in presidential, House, and Senate elections from 1952 to 1996, they reject the dominant explanation for divided government, that ticket splitting is done to balance parties that are far from the center. The ideological positions of candidates do not matter in American elections, but voters favor centrist candidates rather than a mix of extremists. When candidates of opposing parties adopt similar platforms, ticket splitting arises. For voters, ideological differences between the parties blur and other considerations such as candidate characteristics exert a greater influence on their voting decisions. Among their other findings, the authors link changes in congressional campaigns--namely the rise of incumbency advantage and the greater importance of money in the 1960s and 1970s--to ticket splitting and argue, in addition, that the transformation of the South from a Democratic stronghold to a Republican-leaning environment has made regional factors less important.
Burden and Kimball draw upon a diverse and unique range of data as evidence for their argument. Their analyses rely on survey data, aggregate election returns, and new ecological inference estimates for every House and Senate election from 1952 to 1996. This approach allows for the examination of divided voting in traditional ways, such as choosing a Democratic presidential candidate and a Republican House candidate on a single ballot, to less traditional forms, such as voting in a midterm House election and choosing a state's Senate delegation.
Barry C. Burden is Assistant Professor of Government, Harvard University. David C. Kimball is Assistant Professor of Political Science, University of Missouri, St. Louis.

Barry C. Burden is Associate Professor of Government at Harvard University.

David C. Kimball is Assistant Professor of Political Science at the University of Missouri, St. Louis.

". . . should be in the collection of every political scientist interested in electoral behavior and should be required reading in graduate courses on electoral behavior."
Perspectives on Politics

- Sean Q Kelly, Niagara University

". . . the most careful and thorough analysis of split-ticket voting yet. It won't settle all of the arguments about the origins of ticket splitting and divided government, but these arguments will now be much better informed. . . . [E]ssential reading for anyone interested in understanding the major trends in U.S. electoral politics of the past several decades."
—Gary Jacobson, University of California, San Diego

- Gary Jacobson, University of California, San Diego

"When voters split their tickets or produce divided government, it is common to attribute the outcome as a strategic verdict or a demand for partisan balance. Burden and Kimball strongly challenge such claims. With a thorough and deft use of statistics, they portray ticket-splitting as a by-product of the separate circumstances that drive the outcomes of the different electoral contests. This will be the book to be reckoned with on the matter of ticket splitting."
—Robert Erikson, Columbia University

- Robert Erikson, Columbia University

". . . the authors offset the expansive statistical analysis by delving into the historical circumstances and results of recent campaigns and elections. . . . [The book] certainly makes a scholarly and informative contribution to the understanding of the voting habits of the American electorate—and the resulting composition of American government."
—Shant Mesrobian, NationalJournal.com, April 18, 2003

- Shant Mesrobian