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Political Competition in Legislative Elections


We develop a theory of electoral competition in multidistrict legislative elections when nomination decisions are made by local policy-motivated party members, and voters care about both local and national positions. We show that the asymmetry generated by different national party positions reduces or even entirely removes the competitive pressure to nominate moderate candidates. The model has important implications for our understanding of policy divergence and, in particular, of the effects of gerrymandering.

Corresponding author
Stefan Krasa is a Professor, Department of Economics, University of Illinois, 1407 W. Gregory Dr., Urbana, IL 61801 (
Mattias K. Polborn is a Professor, Department of Economics and Department of Political Science, Vanderbilt University, Nashville, TN, 37235 (
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We are very grateful for the comments of three referees and the editor that helped us to improve the paper. Both authors gratefully acknowledge financial support from National Science Foundation Grant SES-1261016. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this paper are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation or any other organization. We are thankful for helpful comments by seminar participants at USC, Caltech, NYU, MPI Munich, ITAM, Toulouse, Illinois, Princeton, Western Illinois, Iowa, Michigan, Notre Dame, UC Irvine, Illinois State, Mannheim, ETH Zurich, Brigham Young, New Economic School, Higher School of Economics, Yale, Southern Methodist and Vanderbilt, as well as Odilon Camara, Tiberiu Dragu, Bernie Grofman, Matthias Messner, and Arturas Rozenas. Replication files are available on the American Political Science Review Dataverse:

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