Existing studies imply a model of “thermostatic voting”—a phenomenon characterized by negative feedback from government policy to election outcomes, suggesting that a party's success in setting policy diminishes its electoral prospects. This phenomenon could give politicians an incentive to constrain the fulfillment of public demands, which would conflict with the notion of electoral accountability, which also forms part of the theoretical framework in question. This article addresses this paradox and provides new data that expand an existing time series of American policy liberalism. Employing the new data, the article identifies thermostatic voting in American presidential elections, but in light of the analysis, certain empirical features are also identified that reduce the possible incentive to withhold promised policy changes.
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