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Why Parties MatterPolitical Competition and Democracy in the American South$
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John H. Aldrich and John D. Griffin

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780226495231

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: May 2018

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226495408.001.0001

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Competitive Party Systems and Democratic Responsiveness

Competitive Party Systems and Democratic Responsiveness

(p.183) 8 Competitive Party Systems and Democratic Responsiveness
Why Parties Matter

John H. Aldrich

John D. Griffin

University of Chicago Press

Chapter 8 examines a key consequence of competitive elections: more responsive elected officials. We chiefly do this by assessing whether the roll call behavior of southern elected officials reflected the same level of responsiveness to variation in citizen opinion as was observed in the North. We will see that during the Whig and post-Reconstruction eras, and from 1948 to 1980, responsiveness in the South was either nonexistent or did not come close to approaching the level of responsiveness seen in the North. Only in the last three decades has the responsiveness of Southern office holders caught up to their Northern peers. We observe a parallel trend when we examine other forms of legislator responsiveness beyond roll call voting—appropriations, constituency service, and so on. In sum, where it was for most of its history true that Southerners did not enjoy the same level of representation as did Northerners, today the two regions are indistinguishable on this score.

Keywords:   party, representation, responsiveness

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