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Rejecting Compromise
Legislators' Fear of Primary Voters


  • Date Published: February 2020
  • availability: Available
  • format: Hardback
  • isbn: 9781108487955

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About the Authors
  • Legislative solutions to pressing problems like balancing the budget, climate change, and poverty usually require compromise. Yet national, state, and local legislators often reject compromise proposals that would move policy in their preferred direction. Why do legislators reject such agreements? This engaging and relevant investigation into how politicians think reveals that legislators refuse compromise - and exacerbate gridlock - because they fear punishment from voters in primary elections. Prioritizing these electoral interests can lead lawmakers to act in ways that hurt their policy interests and also overlook the broader electorate's preferences by representing only a subset of voters with rigid positions. With their solution-oriented approach, Anderson, Butler, and Harbridge-Yong demonstrate that improving the likelihood of legislative compromise may require moving negotiations outside of the public spotlight. Highlighting key electoral motives underlying polarization, this book is an excellent resource for scholars and students studying Congress, American politics, public policy, and political behavior.

    • Presents experimental, survey, and observational evidence from elected legislators to understand how they view compromise and their voters
    • Exemplifies problem-oriented research with investigations of legislators, their voters, and policy reforms
    • Focuses on rejection of compromises that move policy toward what legislators prefer
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    Product details

    • Date Published: February 2020
    • format: Hardback
    • isbn: 9781108487955
    • dimensions: 235 x 158 x 14 mm
    • weight: 0.35kg
    • contains: 18 b/w illus. 12 tables
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    1. Rejecting compromise, getting gridlock
    2. Legislators reject half-loaf compromises
    3. Legislators reject half-loaf compromises because they fear voter retribution
    4. Primary voters as the source of punishment
    5. Voter punishment is rare but real
    6. Structuring negotiations in the shadow of primary voter punishment
    7. Compromise, voter punishment in primaries, and legislative gridlock

  • Authors

    Sarah E. Anderson, University of California, Santa Barbara
    Sarah E. Anderson is an Associate Professor of environmental politics at the University of California, Santa Barbara. Her research examines how legislature and bureaucracy shape policy. She has previously worked as a legislative assistant for a member of Congress.

    Daniel M. Butler, University of California, San Diego
    Dan Butler is a Full Professor of political science at the University of California, San Diego. His research uses experiments to understand representation. He is the author of Representing the Advantaged (Cambridge, 2014).

    Laurel Harbridge-Yong, Northwestern University, Illinois
    Laurel Harbridge-Yong is an Associate Professor of Political Science and a Faculty Fellow at the Institute for Policy Research at Northwestern University. Her work focuses on partisan conflict and party influences. She is the author of Is Bipartisanship Dead? (Cambridge, 2015).

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