Gridlock or Leadership in U.S. Electoral Politics



Formal work on the electoral model often suggests that parties or candidates should locate themselves at the electoral center (or origin). Recent research has found no evidence of such convergence. In order to explain non-convergence, the stochastic electoral model is extended by including various kind of valences, some of which are based on individual and electoral perceptions. These electoral perceptions can be influenced by the contributions made by activist groups to the various parties. We present this formal activist model and then discuss the US presidential election in 2008 and the midterm US election in 2010 in order to evaluate the influence of activist groups, such as the so-called “Tea Party.” As an application of the model, we discuss the continuing realignment of US politics that has that has occurred since the end of the nineteenth century as a result of conflict between activist coalitions.


Stochastic electoral model Valence Electoral perceptions Local Nash equilibrium 


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© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of GovernmentHarvard UniversityCambridgeUSA
  2. 2.Center in Political EconomyWashington UniversitySaint LouisUSA

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