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Has the Prohibition of Fusion Really Hurt Third-Parties?
Unformatted Document Text:  anti-fusion laws have negatively impacted third-party success rates. Our work seeks to fill in this research gap. Method: Our dependent variable was third-party success in races for the US House of Representatives. The unit of analysis was each House race (i.e., at the district level) each election from 1890 to 2006. House races were chosen because, unlike the Senate, there were approximately 435 races each election to test, and unlike races for state legislatures, the data is readily available. For races from 1890 to 1996, we combined data from the ICPSR Study 0001, United States Historical Election Returns, 1824-1968 (1999), Congressional Quarterly’s Guide to U.S. Elections (2001), and Michael Dubin’s United States Congressional Elections, 1788-1997 (1999). The data provided by Dubin was particularly valuable because he listed all third-party candidates and their vote totals, whereas the ICPSR study and Congressional Quarterly book included only those who had received at least 5 % of the vote. For House elections from 1998 to 2006, we downloaded and reorganized data from the Federal Election Commission (www.fec.gov). We defined a third-party candidate as any candidate who ran under a party label (i.e., not an independent candidacy) but was not nominated by the Democrats, Republicans, or one of its internal factions. 4 In cases of major-minor party fusion candidates, we attributed the received votes to the major party, since we assumed that these candidates were almost always more 4 An internal faction of a major party, as opposed to a group that split off, was determined by whether that party had run candidates against the major party. For example, Minnesota’s DFL is not considered a third-party; it was simply the name of the Democratic Party in Minnesota. Similarly, had the study extended back to the Civil War, the Union Party would not have been considered a third-party, since it was really another name for the Republican Party and never actually ran against any Republican candidates. In contrast, the Liberal Republican Party of 1872 was a splinter from the Republican Party and had, in fact, run against Republican candidates throughout the country. The same was true of the Progressive Party around 1912; it was coded as third-parties. 11

Authors: Tamas, Bernard.
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background image
anti-fusion laws have negatively impacted third-party success rates. Our work seeks to fill in this
research gap.
Method:
Our dependent variable was third-party success in races for the US House of
Representatives. The unit of analysis was each House race (i.e., at the district level) each
election from 1890 to 2006. House races were chosen because, unlike the Senate, there were
approximately 435 races each election to test, and unlike races for state legislatures, the data is
readily available. For races from 1890 to 1996, we combined data from the ICPSR Study 0001,
United States Historical Election Returns, 1824-1968 (1999), Congressional Quarterly’s Guide
to U.S. Elections (2001), and Michael Dubin’s United States Congressional Elections,
1788-1997 (1999). The data provided by Dubin was particularly valuable because he listed all
third-party candidates and their vote totals, whereas the ICPSR study and Congressional
Quarterly book included only those who had received at least 5 % of the vote. For House
elections from 1998 to 2006, we downloaded and reorganized data from the Federal Election
Commission (www.fec.gov).
We defined a third-party candidate as any candidate who ran under a party label (i.e., not
an independent candidacy) but was not nominated by the Democrats, Republicans, or one of its
internal factions.
In cases of major-minor party fusion candidates, we attributed the received
votes to the major party, since we assumed that these candidates were almost always more
4
An internal faction of a major party, as opposed to a group that split off, was determined by whether that party had
run candidates against the major party. For example, Minnesota’s DFL is not considered a third-party; it was simply
the name of the Democratic Party in Minnesota. Similarly, had the study extended back to the Civil War, the Union
Party would not have been considered a third-party, since it was really another name for the Republican Party and
never actually ran against any Republican candidates. In contrast, the Liberal Republican Party of 1872 was a
splinter from the Republican Party and had, in fact, run against Republican candidates throughout the country. The
same was true of the Progressive Party around 1912; it was coded as third-parties.
11


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