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Are Moderates Better Representatives than Extremists? A Theory of Indirect Representation

  • JOHN W. PATTY (a1) and ELIZABETH MAGGIE PENN (a1)

Abstract

Few, if any, elected representatives are capable of unilaterally implementing their platforms. Rather, they choose between options generated by other actors and/or external events. We present a theory of voters’ preferences over representatives who will cast votes on their behalf, and show that in this setting voters’ preferences over candidates’ platforms will not look like voters’ preferences over policies. We demonstrate that these induced preferences for representation tend to favor more extreme representatives, and we present two models of electoral competition in which induced preferences over representatives lead to elite polarization.

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Copyright

Corresponding author

*John W. Patty, Professor of Political Science and Quantitative Theory & Methods, Emory University, jwpatty@gmail.com.
Elizabeth Maggie Penn, Professor of Political Science and Quantitative Theory & Methods, Emory University, elizabeth.m.penn@gmail.com.

Footnotes

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We thank Alberto Alesina, Chris Berry, Thomas Bräuninger, John Brehm, Ethan Bueno de Mesquita, Ryan Bubb, Peter Buisseret, Bill Clark, Tom Clark, Torun Dewan, Tiberiu Dragu, Wioletta Dziuda, Scott DeMarchi, John Ferejohn, Mark Fey, Sean Gailmard, Sandy Gordon, Bernard Grofman, Lewis Kornhauser, Dimitri Landa, Gabe Lenz, Thomas Leeper, Tom Mann, Gerard Padró i Miquel, Amy Pond, Jas Sekhon, Gilles Serra, Ken Shepsle, Ahmer Tarar, Stephane Wolton, Dan Wood, and audience members at the University of Chicago, University of California-Berkeley, University of California-Irvine, University of California-Merced, Harvard University, London School of Economics, New York University School of Law, University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, Stanford University, Texas A&M University, University of Warwick, and the 2016 annual meetings of the Southern and Midwest Political Science Associations for very helpful comments on, and conversations, about this project, which was previously circulated under the titles “Does Representation Induce Polarization? A Theory of Choosing Representatives” and “Preference for Representation versus Preference for Policy.” This article is dedicated to the memory of our friend and most loyal reader, Amanda Marie Patty. All remaining errors are our own.

Footnotes

References

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