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Policy-Balancing and Ticket-Splitting: Problems with ‘Preference for Checks and Balances’ in Taiwanese Electoral Studies*

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  23 April 2014

Department of Political Science, Pennsylvania State University,
Department of Political Science, University of California at Santa Barbara, CA,
Institute of Political Science at Academia Sinica, Taipei,


In order to better understand the individual-level motives for ticket-splitting, Taiwan's Election and Democratization Study has since 2001 included a question aimed at measuring respondents’ preferences for checks and balances. We argue that this set of questions, designed to measure a combination of Fiorina's policy-balancing hypothesis and Ladd's cognitive Madisonianism, is inconsistent with principles of survey methodology and thus produces data that are suboptimal. Following a method developed by Carsey and Layman, we propose an alternative concept, the policy-balancing index derived from the perceived ideological distance between respondent and political parties, which both avoids methodological violations and provides us with a more precise concept to work with. We test the index and find it to be a significant determinant of ticket-splitting behavior.

Research Notes
Copyright © Cambridge University Press 2014 

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Data analyzed in this article were collected as part of the research project entitled ‘Taiwan's Election and Democratization Study, 2012: Presidential and Legislative Elections’ (TEDS2012) (NSC 100-2420-H002-030). The coordinator of the multi-year TEDS project is Chi Huang of the Department of Political Science at National Chengchi University. The principal investigator is Professor Yun-han Chu of the Institute of Political Science at Academia Sinica. More information can be found on the TEDS website ( The Department of Political Science, National Taiwan University; the Department of Political Science, Soochow University; the Graduate Institute of Political Science, National Sun Yat-Sen University; the Department of Political Science and Graduate Institute of Political Economy, National Cheng Kung University; the Department of Political Science, Tunghai University; and the Election Study Center, National Chengchi University, were responsible for distributing the data. The authors appreciate the assistance of the institutes and individuals aforementioned in providing data. This research is partially supported by National Chengchi University's Top University Project. The views expressed in this paper are those of the authors alone.


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