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date: 20 August 2018

Abstract and Keywords

Scholars have provided little insight in terms of understanding the conditions that lead to party building through conversion. This article addresses this gap and examines party switching by southern state legislators between 1980 and 2008. By providing the first analyses that isolate the factors conducive to state legislative party switching, this article makes two points. First, factors largely exogenous to legislators' own careers (such as the election of a new governor or partisan trends in the state) can produce conditions propitious for legislative party switching. Second, legislators' own career ambitions may provide an incentive to switch parties. By combining aggregate-level and individual-level analyses, this article provides the most thorough examination of party switching among elites at the state level.

Keywords: conversion, party building, party switching, southern state legislators, career ambitions, elections

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