Political Behavior

, Volume 41, Issue 1, pp 79–103 | Cite as

Measuring Preferences for Divided Government: Some Americans Want Divided Government and Vote to Create It

  • Dean LacyEmail author
  • Emerson M. S. Niou
  • Philip Paolino
  • Robert A. Rein
Original Paper


Tests of theories of the electoral origins of divided government hinge on the proper measurement of voter preferences for divided government. Deriving preferences for divided government from voters’ ideological positions or responses to the standard American National Election Studies question inflates estimates of the proportion of people who prefer divided government. We present two alternative survey measures of preferences for divided government and evaluate the measures across multiple surveys. We find that the percentage of voters who prefer divided government is smaller than previous studies suggest. Voters who prefer divided government according to the new measures are significantly more likely than other voters to vote in ways that create divided government in both presidential year and midterm congressional elections.


Elections Split-ticket voting Divided government Nonseparable preferences 

Supplementary material

11109_2017_9442_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (57 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (PDF 56 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of GovernmentDartmouth CollegeHanoverUSA
  2. 2.Department of Political ScienceDuke UniversityDurhamUSA
  3. 3.Department of Political ScienceUniversity of North TexasDentonUSA
  4. 4.University of Chicago Booth School of BusinessChicagoUSA

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