Woodrow Wilson

Department of Politics

Ph.D. Student Richard Burke and Assoc Prof Justin Kirkland Published in PRQ

December 18, 2020

Ph.D. student Richard Burke and Associate Professor Justin Kirkland, with Dr. Jonathan Slapin of the University of Zurich, had their article "Party Competition, Personal Votes, and Strategic Disloyalty in the U.S. States" published in Political Research Quarterly in September. The article examines the phenomenon of legislators voting against their party’s position on roll-call votes to differentiate themselves from the party mainstream and accrue a “personal vote.” Research suggests that the use of rebellion to generate a personal vote is more common among majority-party ideological extremists. The authors argue that majority party extremists only have a strong incentive to rebel in situations where the accrual of a personal vote is electorally useful. In the article, Burke, Kirkland, and Slapin evaluate variation in rebellion rates of state legislators in the United States conditional on ideological extremism and majority control, and find that when legislators have little incentive to differentiate themselves from their parties, this “strategic” party disloyalty among majority party ideological extremists is limited. However, when legislators have strong incentives to craft a personal vote, ideological extremists defect from their party more often than their moderate counterparts.

The article can be found here.