- The Oxford Handbooks of American Politics
- List of Figures
- List of Tables
- About the Contributors
- The State of Survey Research as a Research Tool in American Politics
- Optimizing Survey Questionnaire Design in Political Science: Insights from Psychology
- Laboratory Experiments in American Political Behavior
- Field Experiments and the Study of Political Behavior
- Formal Modeling, Strategic Behavior, and the Study of American Elections
- Why is American Turnout so Low, and Why Should We Care?
- American Voter Turnout in Historical Perspective
- Expanding the Possibilities: Reconceptualizing Political Participation as a Toolbox
- Voter Registration: Turnout, Representation, and Reform
- Early, Absentee, and Mail‐in Voting
- Digital Democracy: How Politics Online is Changing Electoral Participation
- Voting Technology
- The Study of Electoral Behavior
- The American Voter
- Politics, Expertise, and Interdependence within Electorates
- Constructing The Vote: Media Effects in a Constructionist Model
- Campaign Effects on Vote Choice
- Forecasting Us Presidential Elections
- Economics, Elections, and Voting Behavior
- Latinos and Political Behavior: Defining Community to Examine Critical Complexities
- Organizing American Politics, Organizing Gender
- Gauging the God Gap: Religion and Voting in US Presidential Elections
- Local and National Forces in Congressional Elections
- The Study of Local Elections in American Politics
- Studying State Judicial Races in a Transformed Electoral Environment
- Primary Elections
- Direct Democracy in the United States
- Voters in Context: The Politics of Citizen Behavior
- Getting up off the Canvass: Rethinking the Study of Mobilization
- Parties, Elections, and Democratic Politics
- Organized Interests: Evolution and Influence
- Money and American Elections
- American Electoral Practices in Comparative Perspective
- On Participation: Individuals, Dynamic Categories, and the Context of Power
- Studying American Elections*
- In Search of Representation Theory
- Name Index
- Subject Index
Abstract and Keywords
The claim of this article that party competition is a necessary precondition for democracy may not strike all readers as particularly innovative. It starts by defining what is meant by a political party, by a party system, and by a competitive party system. Then, it describes how both citizens and politicians benefit from the construction of and adherence to clear party labels in a self-enforcing equilibrium. Meaningful party labels allow voters to play a substantial role in selecting the direction of policy and holding politicians accountable; ambitious politicians affiliate with parties that create meaningful and popular labels; a party will be competitive when its label attracts a sufficient number of voters and ambitious candidates; and a competitive party system consists of two or more parties each of which is in equilibrium.
John H. Aldrich is the Pfizer–Pratt University Professor of Political Science at Duke University.
John D. Griffin is Associate Professor in the Department of Political Science at the University of Notre Dame.
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