American politics is dominated by two major parties and has been for a century. The duopoly enjoyed by the Democrats and Republicans is largely the result of Duverger's Law: the tendency of a single-member district system to produce two-party competition (Duverger 1963). Minor parties ultimately fail in a single-member district system because (1) the winner-take-all approach does not reward candidates who finish third and (2) citizens vote strategically to avoid “wasting” their votes on hopeless candidates and spoiling the election (Cox 1997; Riker 1982). Because the U.S. two-party system is so dependent on its majoritarian electoral rules, one might suspect that other election regulations would have little effect on the number of parties.
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