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Has the Prohibition of Fusion Really Hurt Third-Parties?
Unformatted Document Text:  running for President, fusion could help reduce the distinction between these opposition groups and the major party in a way that leads to the strengthening of that major party and the disappearance of the minor party. Second, this statistical analysis says only that if fusion is permitted by the state’s election laws and if fusion actually occurs during House elections, third-party candidates will fare better during the general election. Much of the literature on fusion begins with the assumption that fusion was widely used before 1900 and then gradually disappeared over the twentieth century as state legislatures banned the practice. If it is true that fusion largely disappeared because states made it illegal, then Table 1 would indicate that making it legal again would likely increase the vote for third-party candidates in House races. This claim makes two critical assumptions: First, that fusion was widely used around the period from 1890 to 1920, and second, that fusion was widely used by third-parties wherever it was legal. Figure 2 shows a very basic test of how widely fusion was used in House races from 1890 to 2006. It shows the percent of House districts with three types of House candidates. The first type is a non-fusion third-party candidate, or candidates who were nominated by a single third-party and neither the Democratic nor the Republican Party. The graph indicates that in the 1890s, 70% to 90% of House districts had at least one non-fusion third-party candidate running. This figure began dropping rapidly, and by around 1960 only 10% to 15% of districts had at least one third-party candidate who wasn’t also a fusion candidate. This figure then began rising again and then peaked around 2000 when there was at least one non-fusion third-party candidate in 70% of the House district races. The second type is a major party-minor party fusion candidate, or candidates who were nominated by the Democratic or Republican Party and at least one third-party. As the graph indicates, there was this type of fusion candidate in 16

Authors: Tamas, Bernard.
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running for President, fusion could help reduce the distinction between these opposition groups
and the major party in a way that leads to the strengthening of that major party and the
disappearance of the minor party.
Second, this statistical analysis says only that if fusion is permitted by the state’s election
laws and if fusion actually occurs during House elections, third-party candidates will fare better
during the general election. Much of the literature on fusion begins with the assumption that
fusion was widely used before 1900 and then gradually disappeared over the twentieth century as
state legislatures banned the practice. If it is true that fusion largely disappeared because states
made it illegal, then Table 1 would indicate that making it legal again would likely increase the
vote for third-party candidates in House races. This claim makes two critical assumptions: First,
that fusion was widely used around the period from 1890 to 1920, and second, that fusion was
widely used by third-parties wherever it was legal.
Figure 2 shows a very basic test of how widely fusion was used in House races from
1890 to 2006. It shows the percent of House districts with three types of House candidates. The
first type is a non-fusion third-party candidate, or candidates who were nominated by a single
third-party and neither the Democratic nor the Republican Party. The graph indicates that in the
1890s, 70% to 90% of House districts had at least one non-fusion third-party candidate running.
This figure began dropping rapidly, and by around 1960 only 10% to 15% of districts had at least
one third-party candidate who wasn’t also a fusion candidate. This figure then began rising
again and then peaked around 2000 when there was at least one non-fusion third-party candidate
in 70% of the House district races. The second type is a major party-minor party fusion
candidate, or candidates who were nominated by the Democratic or Republican Party and at
least one third-party. As the graph indicates, there was this type of fusion candidate in
16


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