The U.S. apportions congressional districts both across states and within states based upon population. Scholars have long focused on the electoral implications of redistricting within states, but there has been less consideration of the electoral implications of apportionment across states. In this paper, I analyze congressional elections from 2002 to 2014 and theorize that the limited number of political opportunities in states with few congressional districts will lead to higher levels of quality candidate emergence and electoral competition in these states. I find support for this theory; specifically, as the number of political opportunities in a state increases, the number of quality candidates running for office decreases.
This article explores diversity within top leadership positions in state governments, specifically, the role that position selection method plays in promoting the inclusion of racial and ethnic minorities into positions of power. We hypothesize that minorities will be more likely to serve in appointed positions as governors consider diversity in making appointments and less likely to serve in elected positions due to the additional hurdles for candidates of color. Using an original data set of state executive leaders from 2001 to 2017 from all 50 states, we find evidence that institutional design influences levels of diversity among state executive leaders. Racial and ethnic minorities are more likely to be appointed than elected to state executive leadership positions. In addition, we find that Democratic governors are more likely than Republican governors to appoint minorities. Ultimately, this evidence is important for understanding how institutional design can have consequences for descriptive representation, specifically for groups that have been historically excluded from political life.
This paper considers whether the rules governing state political parties help to explain primary election outcomes. I theorize political parties will see lower levels of competition during primary elections when they have bylaws that centralize power within the state central committee. To test this expectation, I created a dataset of state-level party rules by collecting and coding provisions within the bylaws of all 100 state-level Republican and Democratic parties. I operationalize party centralization of power as whether or not elected officials are represented within each party’s formal membership, their state central committee, and whether or not each party has an endorsement or neutrality policy when it comes to contested primaries. I find the centralization of party power does correlate with lower levels of competition in primary elections for the House of Representatives in 2018 and 2020. Specifically, parties are more likely to see uncontested primaries when they guarantee ex-officio state committee membership to their co-partisan elected officials and are more likely to see fewer candidates in general when they guarantee ex-officio state committee membership to their co-partisan elected officials and when they do not have rules that require the state central committee to remain neutral during contested primary elections. While evaluating the causes of this trend is beyond the scope of this paper, these findings appear to be driven by Republican primaries.
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